ATC121122: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the attendance of the 2012 Umalusi Conference on Standards in Education and Training, dated 20 November 2012
the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the attendance of the 2012
Umalusi Conference on Standards in Education and Training, dated 20 November
The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having participated in the
2012 Umalusi Conference on Standards in Education and Training,
reports as follows:
A delegation of the Portfolio Committee on Basic
Education participated in the 2012 Umalusi international conference held in
The conference followed a joint meeting of the
Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and the Portfolio Committee on Higher
Education and Training on 24 April 2012 which focused on the expectations
Higher Education and Training concerning the quality of learners produced by
the schooling system. The debate on the quality of the learners produced and
the challenges faced by Higher Education Institutions in accepting learners
into these institutions had been in the public domain. The critical issue was
the perceived gap between schooling and higher education and the standard of
assessment. Amongst the key concerns was the quality of the National Senior
Certificate with questions raised regarding qualifying candidates not
displaying requisite knowledge and skills. In this context, the Committee took
a decision to attend the conference in order to gain insight into contemporary
debates and focal issues on educational standard setting and to strengthen its
oversight role over these issues.
The delegation comprised the following members of the
Portfolio Committee on Basic Education: Hon H Malgas MP (ANC) (leader of the
delegation), Hon N Gina MP (ANC) and Hon A Lovemore MP (DA).
Members of staff who formed part of the delegation
were Mr D Bandi (Content Advisor) and Mr L Mahada (Parliamentary Researcher).
Overview of the conference
The conference focused on the central theme of
Standards in Education and Training: The challenge
and explored six
sub-themes that converge around this theme. These were
: setting standards for an unequal society; how
quality assurance improves standards; the role of the curriculum in setting
standards; how standards improve through practice; the role of assessment in
ensuring standards; and language competency as a predictor of achievement.
The conference brought together national and
international academics; government officials both at basic education and higher
education and training levels; standardization bodies and practitioners
(further education and training lecturers and other service providers of
education and training programmes) to share ideas, perspectives and insights on
issues and challenges on standards in the education system at large in order to
build interventions towards ensuring quality education. In total, the
conference attracted 304 participants from 13 countries, and
focusing on the conference theme were presented in parallel sessions over a
period of three days.
The delegation of the Portfolio Committee on Basic
Education attended 27 presentations, three keynote addresses and two panel
discussions. The summary and analysis to follow only focuses on the
presentations that the delegation attended.
Summary and Analysis of Conference Presentations
In his opening remarks to the conference, the
Chairperson of the Umalusi Council, Professor S Mabizela, presented questions
that highlighted problem statements that the conference delegates should engage
with. The questions were:
we mean by standards in education?
the conception of standards in education?
people really understand standards?
people hold sensible topic debates on standards and contribute meaningfully?
we talk of standards in context where infrastructure is not conducive to
education; teachers are spending less time in the classroom than required;
where teaching and learning materials arrive late if at all; where teachers
have weak pedagogical knowledge; where the education system has weak
accountability and professional standards; and where society is manifested at
people have real issues on standards or are there just assumptions?
Professor Mabizela indicated that the standards
issue has become an emotive one and is subject to controversies. He warned on
media reports that broadly call for standards to be raised as very subjective
since the country is yet to have an inclusive debate on the issue of standards,
hence a conference of this nature is necessary. It is the media reports of this
nature that instead of adding value to the debate, create a lever that suggest
grade inflation to the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination. Adding
to the subjectivity call on standards is the fact that the reference point of
the perceived fall of standards is the
People glorify the past. They constantly say that these learners cannot do
what we did in our time as if education is static. Where the past seems not to
hold, teachers become the victims. He advised that while on the one hand,
castigating and condemning teachers will not take the nation anywhere, on the
other hand, teachers
must also accept
their own inadequacy and request assistance.
Therefore, a conference of this nature should debate
the issue of standards, contextualizing it within the current realities which
pose many challenges to both teachers and learners. Learner performance should
be acknowledged within the socio-economic challenges of the country. However,
The socio-economic challenges should not create a spirit of being comfortable
with such realities and forget to move forward and achieve.
In conclusion, Professor Mabizela highlighted that
the conference should therefore set a platform for robust and insightful debate
that will give proper responses to the questions that had been raised around
the issue of standards. This will assist to present a common understanding when
evaluating standards in education.
On standards and standard bearers in South
by Prof. J Jansen
This paper was a keynote address on the first
day of the conference. It argued that the educational standards set in
The first premise indicated that the
political heads of the country lowered the education standards to avoid
embarrassment and this amounted to a political cover-up of the governments
failure to reverse certain legacies of the past, particularly in Mathematics
and Science. As a result it brought significant number of failures; a dramatic
fall of NSC learners; high discrepancies between enrolled and those who wrote
examinations; an increase in numbers of Mathematics Literacy and a
corresponding decrease in numbers of Mathematics enrolments.
The second premise suggested that the country
must communicate the message that children of this country can rise to the
occasion. The right message should show that
He argued that universities should not extend
the mediocrity of the schooling system. For this reason, some universities use
the National Benchmark Test (NBT) as criteria for selecting good prospective
learners for admission. This is a sign that the public trust has been eroded in
public schools. There is a need for the Department of Basic Education to note
that it cannot fix standards of outcomes with what it failed to remedy with inputs
and process standards. The main questions for the Department to reflect upon
are: who are the standard bearers of education in
Upon deliberations and questions, conference
participants warned on the 50% minimum pass mark as a symbolic gesture. What
would the 50% minimum pass symbolize: knowledge attained or simply a pass mark?
They indicated that there is a need for public discussion on what a 50% minimum
pass mark means since the 50% of today can become 30% tomorrow. Further
deliberations indicated that there is just too much testing in
articulation and articulation what makes for coherence in a national
education and training system?
The paper defined articulation as to
say; speak distinctly; connect by joints
The paper indicated that the three concepts for defining articulation are
required to articulate an education and training system. There is a need in the
education system to create necessary connections within and across frameworks;
to create flow and extension on coverage of qualifications; and to create
seamless links of qualifications intended to achieve same objectives, for
example, Kha Ri Gude and Adult Education and Training. When the National
Qualifications Framework (NQF) was introduced through the South African
Qualifications Authority (SAQA) Act of 1995 after the 1994 democratic
elections, the intent was to create a single, integrated framework for learning
achievements in the South African education and training system. The focus for
articulation on the learning achievements was on educational and workplace
qualifications. However, the publication of the three sub-frameworks in 2009 by
the minister of Higher Education and Training which compromised the National
Qualifications Framework showed that sufficient articulation is not yet
The presentation examined the possibilities
that exist for articulation at different levels in the NQF environment starting
from level 1 up to the top level. The articulation was elusive since there were
continuous and too many changes in the curriculum. This generated a poor
understanding of the qualification. Underlying to the fact was that it seems
the parameters of the qualifications and its performance were determined
politically to raise access rather than educational imperatives. It is
therefore advisable to stabilize the curriculum. The Green Paper envisages what
it calls high-level articulation. The presenter cautioned that it may not be
possible to reach the envisaged high-level articulation if curriculum issues
are not resolved. Further, the paper argued that it must be taken into
consideration that articulation serves somewhat different functions in Higher
Education and General and Further Education and Training Qualifications
Frameworks. This explains why Umalusi, the Council for Higher Education (CHE)
and QCTO have roles to play in establishing the important links and
articulation between schooling, higher education and work learning.
and academic achievement: Perspectives on the role of African (Home) Languages
as a lingua academica in education
Prof M. Madiba
The paper discussed the role of African
(home) languages as academic languages in South African education. Noting a
great ambivalence among parents, teachers, learners and government towards home
languages, the paper argued that they form the foundation for the development
of academic language which is critical for academic achievement and in
attaining a high standard of education. In this regard, going straight into
English as the teaching and learning medium or early transition to English
disadvantages learners for whom English is not their first language. It is
important that attention be given to learners development of a high
proficiency in their home languages, particularly at an early stage. Another
key discussion point was that a model for integrating African (home) languages
was needed for their development as academic languages in the context of
of teaching and achievement in Mathematics and Science
Ms G Campbell and Dr F Adam
This paper presented some of the lessons
drawn from an evaluation to explore the relationship between English language
proficiency and achievement in Mathematics and Science at the FET level. In
particular, the study sought to identify factors that act as barriers to
raising learner achievement in English in relation to their achievement in
these gateway subjects. The evaluation study focused on a project supported by
Zenex to develop English competencies of teachers in the Dinaledi Schools
Programme aimed at improving learner performance in Mathematics, Science and
The study suggests that the relationship
between English language proficiency and achievement in Mathematics and Science
is complex and context specific. In the context of the study, the paper raises
issues related to professional development and training, teacher competence and
its translation into outcomes at student level. It also discusses the challenge
of implementing the policy of English as a language of teaching and learning
amongst second language English teachers and learners and refers to the
disjuncture between policies, on the one hand, and practices, on the other
hand. Some of the factors that limit the raising of learner achievement in
English in relation to their achievement in the gateway subjects of Mathematics
and Science include that there is limited evidence of challenging work being
given to learners. There is also limited learner conversation in English and an
extensive/elaborate use of code switching.
The study points to the need for interventions for language improvement
to include all teachers.
Public Adult Learning Centres to Community Education and Training Centres: An
Dr P Rule
The presentation interrogated the shift
proposed in the Green Paper for Post-School Education and Training from Public
Adult Learning Centres (PALCs) to Community Education and Training Centres
(CETCs) for the provision of adult education. The paper started by noting the
change in names of the adult learning system. The paper raised questions
implied when such a name change occurs and whether it translates into changes
in the system.
paper juxtaposed PALC and CETC and
noted that PALC was initially regarded as night schools; regarded as second
chance schools; that mainly had a low throughput rate; that were weak; under
resourced; had no connection with Kha Ri Gude mass literacy project; and with
no clear pathways within those learning centres while the CETC is premised on
economic discourse; addressing the socio-economic needs; focusing on out of
school youth and adults; and regarded as an alternative institutional form of
However, the paper noted
that, regardless of the name change, there are still challenges associated with
purpose, location and participants. What PALC failed to achieve is not
addressed in the new CETC, therefore changing acronyms will not change reality.
The paper advised that more research is needed; there is a need for
newly-established education rather than a new name; there is a need to create
new institutional identity rather than a name change; and that there is a need
for community engagement and care which must be taken up to avoid a repetition
of past failures.
standards and how are they set and maintained over time?
Prof. J Barnard
The paper argued that setting and maintaining
standards is important in assessment. It indicated that standard setting can be
divided into two main types: test-based (item-centred) and Person -based
(candidate centred). While using the
(acquisition of skills and knowledge) and
(completion of curriculum) approaches, it argued that assessment should look at
both progression and knowledge and skills. The paper argued that when questions
are set, cognizance must be taken to balance the skills acquisition and
curriculum coverage. When a learner gets a 30% or 50% pass or certificate, it
should not just be based on getting the questions in the examination right but
also on the knowledge and skills needed to be mastered upon progression either
in studies or in life. It further argued that in standard setting, there is a
need for linking and equating progression with knowledge.
as a First Additional Language choice in secondary schools in
The paper argues that despite the fact that
many primary schools in
of student teachers on the quality of teacher education programmes in
This paper presented findings of a
qualitative research study that examined perceptions of student teachers on the
quality of teacher education programmes in South African universities. The
study reveals that student teachers are dissatisfied with the lecture method;
the link between theory and practice where what is taught is often quite
opposite from happens in class; and, teaching practice supervision. Quality
teacher education remains elusive. Student teachers do not feel like they are
taught effectively how to teach. They are not exposed to excellent teachers
during their training. Many lecturers have never been in the classroom. The
study recommends the infusion of microteaching sessions during lectures, longer
teaching practice slots as well as having a closer link with schools that host
student teachers during teaching practice.
Literacy test items and student errors: Investigating linguistic complexity
Ms P Vale
The paper argued that all sources and
processes of learning are contextualized in language. This includes the
learning and testing of Mathematical Literacy. The paper acknowledges that
Mathematical Literacy as a subject was introduced with the vision that students
will become capable of managing situations and solving problems in everyday
life, work, societal and lifelong learning contexts by making use of
mathematical concepts. However, the lifelong learning context is tested
through a written final examination and therefore this introduces assessments
that inculcate the use of language. While Mathematical Literacy has its own
concepts, the possible perplexing variable of language proficiency,
specifically the skills of reading and writing, makes writing the assessment
more challenging. This is because Mathematical Literacy examination requires
the processing of text as well as the interpretation of multi-modal information
presented in symbolic notation, diagrams, graphs, and tables and contextualized
in language. The paper concludes that due to language challenges experienced by
the second language learner, what is cognitively undemanding to an English
native speaker is more demanding for a second language learner and may have a
negative impact on the performance of the learner.
This paper presented a conceptual framework
on how assessment can act as a quality assurance mechanism to enhance the
overall experience for learners. It drew on examples from various policies and
initiatives undertaken in the area of valid assessment. It also looked
critically at specific institutional processes, and at how the quality of
teaching and learning is enhanced through quality assured assessment. In
particular, the paper examines critical issues in outcomes-based assessment and
their role in enhancing educational standards. It calls for considerable effort
to be put into assuring the design of valid and reliable assessment practices
that can be transferred to the imperatives of enhancing teaching and learning. These
include through the consideration of taxonomies of learning and critical
variables such as the choice of assessment tasks, the reinforcement of
formative and summative assessment, the provision of feedback, reflection and
the use of self and peer assessments.
standards and teachers professional development: Unpacking collective learning
Dr V Scherman; Ms L Zimmerman; Prof. R Bosker; Prof. S Howie
The argument of this paper hinged on the fact
that in South Africa the exercise of setting standards does not involve
teachers. Therefore teachers are left with no clear understanding of what the
standard is and how it was arrived at. The same teachers, who are left out of
the exercise, are held accountable if learners do not meet the prescribed standards.
The paper then presented that the standard setting exercise contributes to
teacher professional development in terms of how assessment practices are
approached and how standards are articulated for reporting purposes. Using the
South African Monitoring system for Primary Schools (SAMP) as the guideline
methodology, the study concluded that involving teachers in standards setting
can improve their classroom judgments in the teaching profession and assist in
their professional development.
Foundation Phase teacher education through mentoring
Dr K Dixon; Dr L Excell; Ms V Linington
The paper presented mentoring as an effective form
of strengthening professional and knowledge development in the foundation phase
educators. The study depended on literature review and a multidimensional
mentorship programme between lecturers from the Foundation Phase at the Wits
School of Education and four Masters students from the
Vocational education: What
should the focus be? Dr Jeanne Gamble; Professor Peliwe Lolwana and Professor
This topic was addressed through a panel discussion. Upon setting the
scene, Dr Gamble chose to speak about
the power of vocational education in
highlighted that in vocational education, adult education is equally important
Wedekind highlighted about the issue of the qualifications of the college
lecturers being a catalyst to vocational education. He lamented that the
current situation in terms of qualifications of college lecturers show a huge
gap in vocational training. 33 per cent have no industry qualifications, 44 per
cent have no prior work experience and 40 per cent teach fundamental subjects.
Furthermore current lecturers are dazed and confused since they lack the
understanding of policy that guides FET colleges, the curriculum that is not
clear and the lecturer identity is being tossed between artisanship and
creating pathways or reinforcing inequity?
Ms C Marock
One of the objectives of the Green paper of
the Department of Higher Education and Training is to address the imperatives
underpinning equivalence. Equivalence envisages having a single integrated
National Qualification Framework (NQF) in order to peg qualifications on the
same level across the framework equivalent so that there will be an
understanding of their relationship to one another. The challenge is that
The above puts more questions on the
equivalence in the pathways of the occupational and trade courses. While trying
to reinforce the equivalence, the system is continually confronted with the
realities of inequity and technical challenges including the absence of a
national curriculum that guarantees consistent standard; the lack of suitable
descriptors to determine equivalence; complexities of the relationship between
providers of these programmes; the lack of support from workplaces and the
uneven role played by quality assurance bodies that have been located within SETAs.
Therefore debating equivalence in these qualifications creates false
expectations on equivalence and puts forward an obsession with credits which is
not helpful in workplace learning. The presenter warned that arguments for
equity should not be similar with arguments for equivalence. Qualifications
in terms of the NQF but they definitely are not
the same and have a different knowledge construction.
Research Task Project: Improving quality and standards in schools
Ms E Nel
This paper reported on the Independent
Examinations Board (IEB)s One Research Task Project (ORTP) initiated in 2011
to streamline research projects learners undertake as part of the School-Based
Assessment (SBA). The IEB observed that the SBA requirements of many subjects
in the National Senior Certificate call for the necessity to conduct research.
Based on the concern that learners may have to submit up to five research
projects depending on their subject choice and that the standards for these projects
vary from subject to subject, the ORTP was initiated to address the overload
imposed on learners by many time-consuming research projects; to address the
over-assessment resulting from the number of research projects required; and to
deepen and improve learners understanding of the academic research process.
As part of the methodology, a representative sample of 21 schools and 1 182
learners participated in the project in 2011.
Preliminary findings reveal inter alia that
the ORTP does enable learners to understand the research process more
effectively; it does reduce overload and repetition of work for learners;
several teachers feel that because fewer learners are doing a Research Task in
each subject, this gives them the opportunity to provide more individual
attention and meaningful support.
paper discussed how preliminary findings will be informing future practice.
nature and purpose of vocational qualifications within the General and Further
Education and Training Qualifications Framework: A comparison of the NC (V) and
Mrs H Matshoba
The paper is based on the studies that Umalusi
has been conducting since 2010. The studies compared the N-courses and the NC
(V) qualification through a comparison of the subjects offered in these
qualifications. In 2006, the Minister of Education promulgated a policy on the
offering of the NC (V) courses as a general vocational qualification that
offers learners a combination of theory and practice in simulated environments.
But at present, the N-courses are again offered alongside the NC (V) courses.
The paper argued that the two qualifications are indeed different and doing
away with the one may deny a certain group of people the right to education.
Upon comparison, the findings were that the N-courses were designed as
post-school qualification for older learners, often those who have been taken
up in work places, while the NC (V) was designed mainly for adolescent learners
in the 16 19 age groups. Finally, the findings revealed that there are major
differences between these two qualifications in terms of syllabus; duration of
studies and the nature and duration of the practical component.
progress in national TVET system development across diversity within the SADC
Dr R Lugg
emphasize that Technical
Vocational Education and Training (TVET) has value in economic growth, poverty
alleviation, and youth employment. In spite of the importance of TVET in
development and reform, major concerns remain regarding the state of reform
initiatives of TVET. The paper argued that reforms are failing because
initiatives are weakened by the methodological challenges and weaknesses. This
was visible in the indicators set to assess the national TVET system across the
13 SADC member states. Other challenges were visible during the piloting of the
TVET system where it was only piloted through consultancy. The lessons learned
in the process show that there is a need to have a common definition of TVET in
those states to replace the varied definitions of TVET; there are weaknesses in
the learning of TVET; there is a need for new descriptors of what TVET is; a
need to create a new toolkit for guidelines to the learning of TVET; a need to
accept that TVET learning differs due to the nature of the economy of the
particular country and whether it was affected by conflict.
Failure to launch in
the Foundation Phase: Matching literacy accomplishment with curriculum,
practice and standards
This paper presented findings on the analysis
of the isiZulu and English reading literacy skills of a Grade 4 cohort of
learners after three years of schooling in their home language. The study
reveals low reading levels in both languages, in decoding and comprehension,
suggesting a mismatch in the curriculum, perceived teacher standards, implied
national standards, language policy and literacy accomplishment. It suggests
that one of the main reasons for the poor results in schools that have African
languages as the Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT) lies in the
misattribution of determinants of success in formal schooling. The paper
concludes by proposing a framework for literacy development to help align the
curriculum, classroom practice and standards in an unequal society. This
foregrounds access to books, daily opportunities to read, motivation to read,
teachers who are knowledgeable about reading as well as explicit code
instruction and reading of extended texts and reading strategies.
for professionalization of college lecturers in
Currently, there seems to be little
imagination for the building of a strong professional core of educators beyond
the model of teacher training currently offered for school teachers. This
leaves a major gap in the provision for educators to be suitably qualified to
be college lecturers in
the flag: Misunderstanding as manifested in instructional communication
Ms L De Jager
This paper reported on findings of a study
that explored the extent to which misunderstanding in instructional
communication is a result of English second language speakers oral
proficiency. As part of the methodology of the study, data was collected of
authentic lessons presented by 26 pre-service teachers in the classroom,
specifically those teaching English as a second language and/or those teaching
their subjects through the medium of English (LoLT).
Key findings of this qualitative study showed
that the reasons for misunderstanding were poor oral proficiency, poor
communication skills and inadequate speech act realization patterns as well as
methodological factors such as poor instructional skills and inadequate
content/subject knowledge. Based on the findings, the paper proposes greater
attention in teacher education programmes to the development of oral
proficiency in English as a second language, as well as English as the language
of learning and teaching. It also recommends a stronger focus on developing the
required methodological skills for effective teaching and learning.
sustainable learning environments and standards in Further Education and
Prof. S Mahlomaholo
On the premise that many learners who obtained
either Bachelors degree or Diploma entry pass at Grade 12 National Senior
Certificate (NSC) refuse to be drawn into FET colleges to further their
studies; the paper argued that the FET colleges in their current form do not
add value to educational aspirations and opportunities to South Africans, as
intended. Though there is denial of this, in essence, FET colleges are failing
to exert as an alternative stream to education and tend to be viewed as a second
chance education option.
the TVET assessment standard through quality assurance in assessment and
The paper assesses areas that can assist to
enhance the technical and vocational assessment standards in the Nigerian post
primary schooling. The main focus was on industry, technical colleges and
universities, particularly focusing on pre-accreditation; accreditation;
monitoring and collecting and record keeping systems and how they influence
quality in the assessment and certification of skills. The findings revealed
that in many institutions offering technical and vocational education in
The challenge of attaining meaningful assessment
Dr F Shaw
This paper discussed meaningful assessment
and reflected on its evaluation. Key discussion points included firstly, that
good assessment requires systematic planning to ensure the
understanding and interpretation of results
; secondly, that it should
reflect the basic curriculum, as well as its application in the classroom, thirdly,
that assessment tasks should be characterized by a hierarchy of complexity to
enable scores to reflect increased competency. The paper noted four possible
levels of complexity on which assessment tasks could be analysed, namely,
recall, application, advanced (integrated) and heuristic. The paper also noted
that the evaluation of an assessment is designed to report both the strengths
and weaknesses of the assessment tasks.
or depth: What should SETA Sector Skills Plans (SSPs) communicate? A critical
review of four Sector Skills Plans
Mr S Ngcwangu
During the years 2010/11 the four Sector
Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) developed the Sector Skills Plans
(SSPs). The shortfall occurred when the SETAs developed the SSPs that were exclusively
dependent on the quantitative data to determine skills supply and demand,
without effectively considering qualitative factors that influence skills
development. The dependence on one methodology has the potential of reflecting
narrow and skewed needs of industry and of broader society. The paper argued
that the anticipation was that the Green Paper of the Department of Higher
Education and Training and the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS III)
released in 2011 would provide the framework that would assist communicating
what the SSPs should communicate. The findings in this paper were that these
SSPs are mainly fragmented and do not effectively provide an understanding of
the actual status of skills requirements in the various sectors.
It is not so much
what you report that matters, but how you report it the dilemma of
Mathematics and Mathematical Literacy
Ms A Oberholzer
This paper discussed the shift of learners
from doing Mathematics to Mathematical Literacy in Grade 12, its reasons, and
proposed and discussed some systematic alternatives to address the challenge.
The paper argued that the reasons for the shift, while compelling are not
always educationally sound, with several learners writing Mathematical Literacy
whilst they are actually capable of writing and passing Mathematics, which is
essential for economic growth. Amongst others, the paper identifies processes
that actively discourage learners from studying mathematics. These are that the
mathematics curriculum does not accommodate the range of needs of learners
adequately compared to other curricula in some countries; the pressure to
improve the Grade 12 pass rate and the University entrance requirements.
Inequality of access
to resources in previously disadvantaged South African high schools
Dr M Sedibe
This paper reflected on findings of a
qualitative research examining the availability and equality of resources in
previously disadvantaged South African schools. Grade 12 learners and their
teachers from three high schools in the
Improving the standard of
school level education in
This paper was a second panel discussion that focused on improving the
standard of school education in
Professor Soudien indicated that countries are failing with quality
tests simply because they do not understand what quality means and what it should
cover. He gave an example that in the
Professor OConnell presented a problem statement that, quality should
not only be normative
but should also be
about culture and knowledge. The main proposition that the paper makes is that
knowledge matters. In
Professor Vithal argued that Mathematics education is very important in
bringing knowledge and skills for the 21
education and life skills possibilities; and functions to stratify society.
Mathematics is a gateway subject; however, it has turned out to be a gate
keeper for many learners in
Curriculum needs stability. In
Professor Howie presented on the standards and quality of education in
Language, Literacy and the needs of the multilingual child
Prof. C Snow
The paper argued
that language is a major medium for education. It is a tool for learning that
also determines the outcome of education. It is used for the acquisition of
knowledge because it is a medium of instruction to teaching and learning.
Language is used to define content and skills to be acquired. It is therefore
important that opportunities for multilingual learning must be provided. The
paper also emphasized the importance of building a rich knowledge base in any
language from the earliest years of life.
Issues Emanating from the Conference
The papers presented and summarised above, raised
critical issues pertaining to setting standards for unequal society; how
quality assurance improves standards; the role of the curriculum in setting
standards; how standards improve through practice; the role of assessment in
ensuring standards; language competency as a predictor of achievement, as well
as other issues that have bearing in the broader educational outcomes. These
included the following:
basic challenge that
teaching profession in
South African education system does not have routine and uniform
predictability. One cannot tell when the school day starts and when it ends.
One cannot tell or even predict what schools will be doing on a particular day
of teaching and learning. There is a need to streamline time, day activities
and a general routine in schools.
human development indices of the country still shape the access and quality of
education children receive and achieve in the country. This is because of the
large gap between the rich and the poor which translates into
changes and refinements must happen, but in a thoughtful manner. Further, the
curriculum should be given space to settle before any changes are envisaged.
professionalism and accountability remain a challenge.
role of language in achieving quality cannot be over-emphasised. Language is a
major medium for education. Language competence is the predictor of academic
excellence and it affects all aspects of education and training.
It is important that learners develop a high
proficiency in their home languages, particularly at an early stage. This has
implications for teacher preparation
is not always a way of ensuring sound achievement, so the culture of
continually testing learners should not take the place of actual teaching in
requires systemic planning to ensure understanding and interpretation of
results. Several papers drew from established literature and emphasised the
need to consider a hierarchy of complexity when designing assessment standards.
should be about progression, knowledge and skills acquisition. There should be
a balance between skills acquisition and curriculum coverage.
process of standard setting should involve teachers because it contributes to
teacher professional development.
plays a significant role in strengthening professional and knowledge
development in foundation phase educators.
education can also be used to provide vocational and occupational education.
is a need to build a strong professional core that caters for college
colleges in their current form do not add value to the educational aspirations
and opportunities of South Africans.
is a greater need for capacity building of technical school and college
way Sector Skills Plans are developed is mainly fragmented and does not
effectively provide an understanding of the actual status of skills
requirements in the various sectors.
is a need for stability in the South African education system given that
curriculum reform takes time to stabilize.
are still challenges in the outcomes of the basic education system and these
are mainly caused by the highly prevalent inequality in society and some
systematic challenges. This suggests that Parliament has to play an active role
in further processing legislation and intensifying oversight that gears to
addressing inequality and poverty.
challenges raised show some policy gaps that exist in the basic education
system and particularly in the FET sector and in technical and vocational
needs to continue the debate and discuss with the Department of Basic
Education, universities and quality assurance bodies on the quality of learners
produced by the schooling system.
indicated above, the core base that has a major influence in compromising
should look at whether there is some kind of prejudice to learners who are
learning and being taught in a language other than their mother tongue in all
human resources, professional development, and accountability are crucial for
effective teaching; there is a need to look at the implementation of policies
relating to staffing, teacher development and accountability.
lack of learner teacher support material (LTSM) proves to compromise
achievement of learners, there is therefore a need to continually monitor the
provision of LTSM in schools.
are other issues that could be of importance for further engagement by the PC
on Higher Education and Training since they are specific to the FET college
sector. They are:
To investigate the real impact that will be brought about by
the changing of the Public Adult Learning Centres to Community Education and
Expanding the provision of vocational and occupational
education to Public Adult Learning Centres for diversity of skills needs and
for differentiation purposes.
Over-academisation of Further Education and
Professionalization of FET lecturers to take cognisance of
the nature of what it means to teach in a college sector.
The reliability of the Sector Skills Plans of the Sector
Education and Training Authorities in informing the skills development in the
There is a need for the Higher Education and
Training Portfolio Committee to check as to what really takes place in the
development of the SSPs and whether they are responding to the needs of the
 Norm referenced tests may measure the acquisition of skills and knowledge from multiple sources such as notes, texts and syllabi.
 Criterion referenced tests can be used to determine if the test taker has met the programme objectives and it measures performance on specific concepts and these tests can also be used to determine if curriculum goals have been met.
 There are no institutions that train teachers for vocational teaching. Most are mainly artisans who do not have a formal teaching qualification.
 On knowledge base the paper refers to the vocational pedagogy and the development of the subject base of various subjects taught at FET colleges.
 On professionalism the paper alludes to formal teacher training programmes for college lecturers, exclusive jurisdiction for the lecturers, specialized work they should do, and regulating their qualifications.
 Education should be inclusive and accessible to all.
 Use education in the process of organizing society or aspects of social life.
 Quality should not only be about conforming to an ideal standard or envisaged model.
 Quality should not only be about conforming to an application of policies.
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