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new school plan

By Steven Ngubeni | Jul 09, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

IT WILL take a village to mend South Africa's ailing education system.

IT WILL take a village to mend South Africa's ailing education system.

Many of us gladly welcomed the introduction of outcome-based education and thought it would play a key role in bridging the gap between resourced schools, which provide quality education and produce excellent results, and under-resourced ones that we inherited from the apartheid system.

Adopted by countries such as the United States, Hong Kong and Australia, the main difference between OBE and traditional education approaches is that rather than measuring inputs it puts greater emphasis on creating specific measurable outcomes so assessments measure whether students can perform a required task or know the required information.

In addition, while OBE acknowledges that some students learn faster than others, there is a belief that all students, regardless of ability, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status and gender, can ultimately reach the same minimum standard.

It sounded like the ideal education reform model but in practice OBE did not work.

Alarm bells started ringing when teachers raised concerns about being unable to implement this new system because of a lack of training; having too much paperwork and therefore less time for teaching because multiple separate outcomes have to be measured; not agreeing with the proposed outcomes and indicating that too much time is spent helping struggling students.

Many also argued that the drop in the matric pass rate was a symptom of OBE's inadequacy. A lack of resources such as laboratories, libraries and computers did not make it easy for under-equipped schools to implement OBE.

But even with its shortcomings OBE did have positive elements that we can retain. Encouraging learners to actively seek out information is a valuable skill that they could implement throughout their lives. We should never go back to the situation in which learners are passive individuals who sit their way through class and cram information just so that they can move to the next grade.

With the introduction of Schooling 2025, the new education plan that is set to relieve teachers of administrative work, offer incentives that will attract teachers to rural schools and reduce the number of projects given to learners. We can only hope that we have turned the corner with our education system.

Employers often raise concerns that some matriculants walk out of school lacking essential skills that we automatically assume that they should be mastering, such as literacy and numeracy.

Our education system needs to mould young people into confident, knowledgeable and skilled individuals who are ready to take on the world and contribute towards the economy and decrease the high youth unemployment rate.

A matriculant should not be seen as yet another burden who will exhaust the government's resources but rather as a key resource that should be invested in because it is only a matter of time until we reap rewards.

The road to realising this goal will not be easy; as the African proverb goes "it takes a village to raise a child". The government needs to play its role in offering sufficient training and ensuring that schools are adequately resourced.

The private sector should also be willing to assist schools that are under-resourced. Teachers must teach and be positive role models for young people.

Headmasters must take charge and manage schools like well-oiled machines. They should not hesitate to take disciplinary action against teachers who are unwilling to work.

Parents must form relations with teachers and ensure that engaging with their children in school activities is part of their daily routine.

lThe writer is National Youth Development Agency CEO and ANCYL deputy general secretary. He writes in his personal capacity.


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