Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bold schools fix it plan

In a bid to improve the quality of education and matric results, the Gauteng government unveiled a bold plan for government schools, staring in the new year.

Designed by Education MEC Barbara  Creecy, the move has massive implications for pupils, teachers and parents.

In terms of the plan:

  • Grade 3, 6 and 9 pupils will write a standardised national test that will determine their knowledge of numeracy and literacy so that areas of weakness can be identified earlier and rectified before Grade 12
  • All schools will approach the curriculum standardised fashion, covering the same areas at the same time. 
  • 5000 teachers will be trained throughout the year in the curriculum
  • Parents will have to attend induction classes at the start of the school year. Schools reopen January 12, and the induction programme will be held on January 8 and 9.

Creey said this was to get parents to take more responsibility for their children's education and would serve to inform them about the year ahead, what was expected of them as their children.

Speaking at a special briefing of editors, Creecy painted a bleak picture of the state of education in the province. According to the latest figures only 30 percent of grade 3s are literate and just over 40 percent pass maths, while slightly more than 50 percent are literate.

At high school level, about 50 percent of children can't read or write, so it is difficult for the department to get the matric results up.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Make learning fun

If you’ve been teaching students, young and old alike, you have probably encountered the greatest drawback in teaching history – boredom. Boredom can be a teacher’s greatest insult.

Imagine having to stand in front of a number of students, you’ve been talking on end, and your students aren’t listening. You start to think if you’re the reason why they’re bored. Maybe you are the one who’s boring and not the topic. More often than not, it is the approach to learning, and not you that’s making learning boring.
Making learning fun is an art as much as it is a practice. It is a practice because it requires a skilled and knowledgeable teacher with the right attitude to teach a number of students and to teach them well. It is an art because it sparks your imagination; it opens up your creativity, and makes use of your talents to make it fun as well as knowledgeable.

Children at Kwa-Thema Creche enjoying reading time with one of the READ trainers

 Making learning fun doesn't mean having the best resources but rather making the best of the resources you have at your disposal. One can start by incorporating lively examples in your lessons. These examples must be relevant to the students you are teaching. Giving examples that are relevant to them stimulates their brains.

Making learning fun also entails that students have to feel rewarded from the lessons they are observing. Generate interesting and open-ended questions that require their brains to think of an answer, rather than a simple yes or no question.

Come up with games that incorporate the lesson for the day in it.Games allow students to apply what they have learned into real situations and are great evaluative tools for teachers.The best secret in getting student to enjoy lessons is in making them hungry for knowledge and the battle is half won.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Government plans to resource libraries fully

In September 2010, Dr J.C Kloppers Lourens (DA) asked the minister of basic education whether the Government has taken any steps to resource school libraries fully.

In her reply the minster was asked to address plans and proposed time lines for her department to provide every school in the country with a (i) properly equipped library and (ii) trained school librarian.

Children from schools in and around Soweto surrounded by books at a READ-CNA in-store reading.
In her reply the minister pointed out that this is something the department had been working on To address the infrastructure provisioning holistically two significant documents have  been developed namely the: 

  • National Policy for an Equitable Provision of an Enabling School Physical Teaching and Learning Environment. Through this policy, the department says it will realize the provision of all essential spaces and facilities, including school libraries. This policy is to be followed by the Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure. 
  • National School Library and Information Services Guidelines. Through these guidelines provision and support of libraries in the system will be addressed.
In terms of the Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure all new schools will have libraries. National Treasury has allocated an additional R2b for the next two financial years to provide libraries, laboratories and grade R classrooms 2011 and 2012. This amount is over and above the infrastructure budget allocated to provinces. The department is said to be in the process of developing a strategy that aims to accelerate the delivery of schools infrastructure and more specifically, aimed at the improvement of existing  schools infrastructure to achieve Optimum Functionality level in targeted schools infrastructure  within the 2010-2014 Strategic Plan Period and beyond. The targets related to this initiative are being finalised. From their budgets this year, provinces are meant to be providing 146 libraries to new and existing schools.

The minister added that the provision of teacher librarians would have to be made within the context of broad post provision according to priority needs.

We trust government will deliver on the said targets and that all children will have access to the ultimate windows of the world...Books