Curriculum dispute

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

Whether to scrap or keep Outcome Based Education has been one of the biggest talking points in education circles this year.

There has been intense debate on whether pupils should continue with Outcome Based Education (OBE) or whether it should be stopped.

Education Minister Naledi Pandor had indicated that OBE was here to stay and that the department had already modified the system and would continue to tweak it.

Pandor said she intended to set up a special "curriculum implementation committee", comprising education department officials, experts and teachers' union representatives, to look at expanding and improving teacher training; reducing the current eight learning areas for pupils in Grades 4-7; and improving classroom materials.

OBE, which is based on learning through experience and exploration, was introduced to Grade 1 pupils in 1998 to counter Christian National Education and encourage critical thinking.

The other vital aspect i that the first group of matriculants wrote exams under the new National Curriculum Statement (NCS) this year.At least 592000 Grade 12 candidates wrote the new exams in 6500 examination centres. The department appointed 35000 markers and the results are expected to be out on December 29.

NCS is different from the old curriculum in that under the new arrangement candidates have to write standardised national papers. This was introduced to Grade 10 pupils in 2006.

Pupils now have to enrol for seven subjects and must attain at least 40percent in three subjects and 30percent in four.

The aggregate mark is not considered in deciding whether pupils pass or fail. This is to ensure that pupils pass in at least six of the seven subjects while maths or maths literacy is compulsory.

Candidates who were not eligible to write the matric final examinations have until 2011 to rewrite. The first group rewrote in May-June but their results were not impressive.

Only 294734 of the 410734 who registered to write actually did. Of these, only 20percent passed. This after the national Education Department implemented five-month intensive revision workshops to ensure that the pupils passed after rewriting.

But not all NCS candidates were able to sit for their exams. At least 260 candidates from an Orange Farm school in the Vaal were not allowed to write as their school did not register them for the exams.

Only 56 of the pupils at Siyaphambili Secondary School wrote the exams. The 56 are classified as Candidate As and the 260 are classified as Candidate Bs.

Candidate Bs will write in June under adult-based education.

Teachers and pupils claimed that an official registered the pupils and then deregistered them to receive a government subsidy.

On a sad note, pupil abuse by teachers continued in schools. In one of the worst cases, a Sebokeng teacher, Fumani Sejake, was charged with 23 cases of assault with grievous bodily harm for burning pupils' cheeks and hands with a hot knife. This after they failed a maths exercise.