Specialist shortage spells worst results

Selby Makgotho

Selby Makgotho

Limpopo and Free State provinces posted worse matric results than last year.

And some experts insist that this will be the trend nationally after government's overzealous implementation of Curriculum 2005.

Ndo Mangala, Limpopo education spokesman, Abbey Ngoepe, an education analyst at the University of Limpopo, and an official who did not want to be named, said the problem stemmed from a huge shortage of curriculum specialists and predicted that the national pass rate would not exceed 70percent.

Mangala said this is the reason why the provincial education department has advertised almost 400 posts for specialists in the areas of mathematics, science and commercial subjects.

Another source who wished to remain unnamed said that the pass rate in Limpopo this year was 64,3percent, down from at least 70 percent last year.

"It's well known that both Limpopo and Free State did very badly and this will be reflected in the minister's [national minister of education Naledi Pandor] figures. The reasons are obvious," said the source.

"The provinces are terribly resourced but the lack of specialists is the main reason the pass rate has gone down and has been going down.

"The province does not have curriculum specialists to give guidance to teachers on how to implement the new curriculum."

A highly placed source told the Sowetan that the provincial education department was struggling to cope while operating without curriculum specialists.

The source maintained that filling the posts advertised would not solve the problem given the challenges brought by the curriculum changes in schools and that at least 2000 specialists were needed.

Teachers had only been exposed to new curriculum changes through week-long workshops since the Curriculum 2005 programme was started 12 years ago. This, the source said, was not enough.

Ngoepe said: "The chances are that the results would be a little low because we do not have people who are monitoring the implementation of the curriculum in schools.

"The situation this year cannot be compared with the previous ones because the curriculum is relatively new."

Ngoepe said the department found itself in a difficult situation where it could not hire all the 2000 curriculum specialists at once, and stressed that the shortage of specialists would continue to have a negative effect on Education if the matter did not get addressed.

The Limpopo provincial cabinet would also be expected to step in and help the situation, the source said.

Ndo Mangala said: "We hope that through the filling of the posts the problem will be solved.

"We hope to fill the posts early to ensure that urgent attention is paid to the curriculum changes in schools," Mangala said.

One item of good news from Limpopo is that results for Mogalatjane Mphahlele High, whose grade 12 pupils all failed last year, are expected to improve.