South Africa embraced the Outcomes-based education (OBE) system 13 years ago to replace the old rote-learning method of education delivery.
It was a revolutionary change in that the teacher became a guide while the child was involved in the learning and teaching process. The teacher was meant to bridge the gap between the gifted and average children.
There were problems when the system was extended to remedial teaching and to accommodate children who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder Syndrome.
OBE was phased in from Grade 1 and this year's matrics will be the first to write examinations in this system.
OBE has many critics who question its efficacy and blame it for children who can hardly read or write English in matric.
Teachers say that while OBE is rele- vant for education, it does not work. They say they are not ready to teach OBE because they have not been trained in it. For the learner, it is a year-long classroom process but teachers have had only a week's study to change years of the old- style, authoritarian method of teaching.
They say teachers are a mix of bright as well as plodding individuals. They need time to change, to learn and to understand what the change is all about.
Top educator and Technisa rector Qetelo Masitha said that most learners are capable of passing the matric examination.
He said the reason most failed was because parents were not involved in their children's education. They lacked proper role models, had demotivated teachers, the role players had tunnel vision, and a lack of interventions and nurturing of intelligent and talented learners.
Masitha said certain factors such as background can enhance the capabilities of learners. If the parents are interested in what their children do at school, value education and understand its value in life, they will have a head-start over others.
"We have very few role players in our communities. Those who drive big German sedans are the new role models while the children look at a teacher with worn-out shoes and an old car with scorn.
"They question whether education will give them the material needs they desire. Another reason is that teachers are not motivated. The department does not offer them incentives. The conditions of service in the teaching profession, such as salaries, are not attractive," he said.
Masitha said the same excuses were trotted out every year when the matric results were published. There were no new and innovative ways to look at or study the problems.
He said there was a greater need for teachers in the new era. They were needed to intervene in bridging the gap between higher levels of education. Intervention programmes would also iron out inconsistencies or any poor preparations.
"Intelligence is not enough. Children must be guided by educationists. Intervention programmes which might add a year or two to a learner's school life must be explained to the parents so that they understand why this is so," Masitha added.
Pula-Madibogo Primary School science teacher David Modiba has won several awards that has helped his school to amass a few needed resources.
He won the Aggrey Klaaste Maths, Science and Technology Award 2006, the Capricorn Municipality Youth Development Award in Science and Technology, and the State of the Environment Award - Limpopo 2007.
These awards have earned the school a science laboratory, books, stationary and science instruments.
"It is passion that drives me. It is the love and commitment that keep me going, not the money," he said, laughing at the mention of the meagre salaries that teachers earn.
"We get few resources in black rural schools. I did not have resources as a pupil and I do not want the learners now in school to go the same route. That is why I have a passion for development," he said.
Modiba said OBE was a good system but there was no follow-up. Teachers attend in-service training workshops for five days and are then expected to teach OBE.
"There is lack of specialisation, especially in primary schools. If you are a physical science teacher you are also expected to teach maths. Both these subjects require specialisation and training.
"Also, I face classes of 75 to 105 learners. We have too many learners and not enough classes or teachers," he said.
Modiba said OBE requires that a teacher should give attention to each individual child.
The department, teachers and learners have all encountered problems with OBE.
But these have been dismissed as teething problems by Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng education department (GDE) spokesman.
"We changed a flat tyre while the car was moving. We introduced OBE within the system we were trying to flush out.
"We broke the backbone of apartheid education and introduced a system that suits all learners in our country," Lesufi said.