Thursday, July 26, 2012

Discipline in schools

Over the years there has been a significant decrease in discipline in schools. More and more learners are losing their sense of respect, discipline and dignity. Seeing learners walking around in communities during school hours has become a norm. School uniforms are degraded by learners as they are worn incorrectly while smoking.

It is very difficult for teachers to maintain a constructive teaching enviroment when learners refuse to cooperate and parents are not involved. Teachers are teaching in enviroments where they themselves feel at risk. This cannot continue in our schools. All communities, parents and teachers have to work together to create change. Schools are managed by principals and teachers not learners. It is vital for schools to go back to being places of learning and development for learners, so as to ensure a society of individuals that is productive and effective. Let us create change as individuals and communities.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gap lead to textbook delay

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma met Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga over the late delivery of textbooks in Limpopo on Tuesday, the presidency said.
“Minister Motshekga explained to the president it was only in May that orders for textbooks could be placed with the publishers,” spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.
This was because the Limpopo education department and four other provincial departments had been put under national administration.
This made matters “very complex” as there was no legislation to regulate the interventions.
Zuma asked the presidency and the department of co-operative governance to prioritise filling this legislative gap.
“The president also directed that while the legislation is being finalised, a special protocol must be developed to manage relations between the spheres and ensure that service delivery is not affected.”
“When... (this) intervention was introduced... Limpopo had serious cash flow problems, which had serious ramifications for key basic education deliverables, such as the procurement and delivery of textbooks.”
The textbooks would usually have been paid for out of the 2011/12 budget, but due to “poor financial and human resource management and planning” there was no money left to pay for the textbooks.
“The minister has apologised unequivocally for the delays on delivery of the text books to grades 1 to 3 and 10,” Maharaj said.
Motshekga said that some schools had received textbooks and therefore it was incorrect to suggest that no learning was possible in the province.
For example, literacy and numeracy workbooks for Grades One to Nine were delivered on time.
“In addition, readers of the previous year and other resource materials could be used, as teachers were trained on where there was a deviation from the previous syllabus.”
All grade 10 pupils received mathematics and science textbooks on time too.
On reports that textbooks were dumped for disposal, Zuma told Motshekga that it was unacceptable for service providers or officials to destroy limited and precious education resources like books.
“The president appreciated the fact that the minister has instructed the department to take action against the perpetrators,” Maharaj said.
Maharaj said Zuma directed the department of basic education to complete the textbook deliveries, and work with the treasury and provincial government to make sure textbooks were delivered in time next year.
Zuma said those found to be responsible for the textbook delivery delay would face “consequences”. - Sapa

Article from

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reading Starz

For more than 33 years READ has encouraged a love for reading, for books and for literacy among communities across South Africa. We have done this through the Readathon campaign and the numerous literacy projects undertaken in schools. And always we did this with the support of the teachers, learners, parents and education officials.

Last year (2011) READ started a pilot book club project in three schools in Gauteng in order to learn more about the practicalities of running a book club, to see what youngsters would like to read when they had a choice of books to read and to find out how READ can contribute to existing book clubs.

As a result of the findings of the pilot project, READ started the Reading Starz Forum. The Forum aims to direct attention to the benefits of reading and will do so by supporting and offering existing book clubs a place to share ideas of what makes a book club work, what can be done to encourage the youth to read more and how we can inspire and learn from each other.

Reading Starz meets on the first Saturday of each month for an hour. Members are invited to join the meeting and interact with the guest speakers. READ trainers and book selectors will introduce new releases, discuss old favourites and share innovative ideas of how to increase access to books in book clubs and the community.

Above all, Reading Starz will encourage  its members to participate in forum activities by submitting  book reviews, by entering the competitions – where they will be able to win great prizes-, by using the special offers available only to Reading Starz members and by encouraging other book clubs to join the forum.

If you would like you and your school to be part of Reading Starz, put your email address in the comment space provided and READ Educational Trust will send you an invite.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Intermediate phase CAPS training underway

The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) for the Intermediate Phase (grades 4 to 6) and Grade 11 will be introduced in all schools in 2013, and already the system is being prepared for this important change to the curriculum. 

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is currently orientating hundreds of provincial and district subject advisors, for all subjects, on the changes that will be introduced so that implementation of CAPS in schools is strengthened.

Following the introduction of CAPS in the Foundation Phase and Grade 10 this year, preparations are progressing swiftly to ensure that the introduction of the second phase goes smoothly in 2013.
The DBE has gathered subject advisers for the Intermediate Phase from every district across South Africa in Johannesburg for the Orientation Programme. These advisers will then go on to orientate teachers to the content, assessment, teaching methodology, resources and management of classrooms in CAPS in their own districts. 

More than 1000 Intermediate Phase subject advisers, from all nine provinces, are being orientated in this process, which is scheduled to last for four weeks. Provinces have been clustered into groupings of three to ensure that the training runs smoothly and so that enough time is spent on practical application of what the changes will mean to teachers in the classroom. The training is held over five days per week.
The DBE has developed a manual and resource pack that is issued to each subject adviser , which is to be used for training the teachers. 

“There will be one orientation manual for each subject, which the subject advisers will use for training and pass on to teachers in their districts,” said Ms Jenny Kinnear, Director for Schools Curriculum, General Education and Training.
“We are trying to avoid dilution of the message that needs to go to all teachers on the requirements of CAPS as well as ensure that the same policies and materials are used in schools. There will be no localisation of these manuals.”

“In this way principals and school management teams will receive the same information on CAPS so that the management of CAPS is strengthened too. In fact all stakeholders involved in the training and support of teachers will have the same manual and requirements that will be used to effectively implement CAPS.”
At the same time, DBE FET subject advisors are doing the orientation of their provincial and district subject advisors for all subjects in Grade 11. By the end of their three week orientation, they would have orientated close to 2 100 officials across all provinces. 

For the first time, the DBE has experienced high levels of confidence and commitment from provincial and district officials as they prepare to go out and support teachers. 

The Department of Basic Education aims to have every Intermediate Phase teacher in the country trained and prepared for the introduction of CAPS before 2013. To ensure that teachers are sufficiently trained, the DBE will be sending out monitoring teams to ensure that training takes place at a district level and inputs from these visits will be used to further strengthen training for the introduction of CAPS in the Senior Phase, which is scheduled for 2014.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said 6 641 schools across the country had fewer than six teachers, and more than 20 000 teachers were forced to practise “multi-grade teaching”, in some instances teaching as many as four grades in one class. 

Motshekga was responding to a recent question from DA education spokeswoman, Annette Lovemore, in Parliament. 

The Eastern Cape, where the national government has had to intervene in the running of education, has the largest number of schools, 2 333, with fewer than six teachers, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 1 131 schools in this predicament. 

Lovemore said that while the DA “understands and accepts the current need for multi-grade classes”, mono-grade classes were “clearly preferable”. 

“Curriculum development and university training of teachers focuses solely on mono-grade teaching. Teachers are therefore ill equipped to deal with teaching more than one grade in a class,” she said.
In her reply, Motshekga said that “the department has contracted the Centre for Multi-Grade Education at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) to train teachers in multi-grade teaching”. 

But Lovemore said the CPUT website showed just 850 teachers had completed a short course on multi-grade teaching last year, and 150 teachers had attended the course this year.
“Since 2009, 430 teachers have enrolled for the Advanced Certificate in Education specialising in multi-grade teaching. This leaves a current shortfall of approximately 18 700 multi-grade teachers who are still untrained,” Lovemore said. 

“According to CPUT, these schools form the most neglected part of the education system. This cannot continue. Children in rural areas often face multiple challenges, including poverty, lack of transport and inadequate access to resources. 

“This is another example of how education is denied to children in the Eastern Cape and other provinces with large rural communities,” Lovemore said.
In another written reply from Motshekga this week, the minister confirmed that 12 schools in the Eastern Cape, KZN and Limpopo had a zero percent pass rate for the 2011 National Senior Certificate examinations. 

Lovemore said she would be visiting the three provinces to gather information on the situation in the schools with zero percent pass rates and to determine the success of the national department’s limited interventions. 

“The right to basic education is enshrined in the constitution. It is clear that, in certain provinces, pupils cannot rely on the government to establish an environment in which they can thrive,” she said. 

 By Shanti Aboobaker

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bridging the gap between grades 3 and 4

Over the years it has become apparent that the transition from grade 3 to grade 4 has become more difficult for learners, who need all the help they can get to make the adjustment easier. Why is this?

The main reason is the lack of communication between teachers and parents. In most cases teachers are restricted to handling the curriculum and their class, while too many parents mistakenly believe that their responsibility is limited to 'providing' at home - food, accommodation, and so on, including simply paying for education. To ensure a child's overall education, it is vital that parents and teachers put in equal efforts.

Traditionally, parents and teachers interact only once or twice a year when report cards and bad marks are discussed, instead of the different aspects of the learning journey and how children are constantly adapting.

Thus parents generally remain very ill-informed about their child's progress  - and 'in the dark' about how the school assists learners in all ways. As a result, it is the children who suffer.

Parents and teachers are equally important in a child's education, which is why they have to work together to achieve a common goal. There has to be continual communication between them so that parents are informed and are then able to supplement and enhance activities initiated by the school.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Are you the heartbeat of your department? (The role of the HODs in schools)

When a student fails academically, who is held responsible? The student? The teacher? The parents? Or the Head of Department (HOD)? Invariably it is the HOD

As a HOD, a great deal is expected of you. You are responsible for the academic progress of students. It is up to you to support your subject teachers and ensure that all in the department participate effectively. This involves encouraging and supporting the professional development of your staff, promoting a working atmosphere that encourages co-operation, and valuing the contribution made by individuals in the department.

It doesn't end there. You have to lead by example. You must be effective in the execution of school policy. You have to encourage high standards in all aspects of school life, and you have to contribute to the effective and efficient management of the school.

Unfortunately, a school with a poorly-performing HOD is immediately recognisable through lack of productiveness in both the school and within the department. This is why it is vital for all HODs and management staff in schools to work together to create a happy, purposeful and productive environment.'

To ensure that learners are getting the best education possible, and in a safe and creative school environment, it's imperative that all stakeholders do their part. The Head of Department must be the heartbeat that connects all aspects of the school.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Exhaustion as an excuse to miss school, by teachers

More than 1000 teachers did not show up for the first day of the second term on Tuesday because they were exhausted from participating in the fifth Annual Association on non-aligned teachers Unions of Southern Africa (Antusa) games, which took place in Windhoek, Namibia.

This is one of many examples of the deteriorating system of teaching in this country. The teachers that were absent all applied for annual leave. Yes it can be argued that teachers should fight for their rights, but should it constantly be at the detriment of learners? The curriculum is structured in such a way that every school day must be utilised, so when this does not happen it is taking time away from learners, which contributes to poor pass rates.

What are we as a community doing to rectify this problem where school teachers are being protected by Unions even when they are at fault. How can we stand by and let this happen without consequence.

The teaching profession is now tainted beyond repair and it's a pity because in the eyes of society all teachers will be painted with the same brush. It is time for all stakeholders to take note and bring change. The more this is left uncontrolled the more our children pay the price.

What's your take?

Ideas from: The STAR, 10 April 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Raise the bar

'Teach like you've never taught before. Leave a legacy'. said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Over the years the teaching profession has lost its confidence, gone are the days when teachers would walk proud as a people. We need to get back to that place where teaching is regarded with the importance it deserves.

Teachers have to be confident in their profession, well-trained and constantly strive to improve their capabilities. Communities need to realise the value of teaching. It is the teachers in our schools who are a crucial part of moulding our future leaders.

Learners need the guidance of educators who are passionate about their purpose as teachers in a classroom. Educators, parents and learners all need to work together to get learning where it should be. Where learners are receiving the best from all stakeholders therefore encouraging them to succeed and be the best that they can be.

We call for teachers who want to empower and encourage students to break all boundaries and become competitive in the work force. Let there be more stories of teachers making a difference.

Teachers need to teach and learners need to learn, because our future as a nation depends on it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

FET Colleges is it really a solution?

Paying thousands to obtain a diploma or a certificate in your chosen field of study after matric is a huge expense and proving to be an even bigger risk, but what is the alternative for school leavers today?

To operate as a private FET institution, a college must first be registered as a company in line with the Companies Act of 1973, and then obtain registration with the Department of Education or Umalusi (the general and further education training quality assurance body).

For students who do not have university exemption or cannot afford university fees, a FET college is the next best option, But is this working in their favour long term?
Accredited colleges are providing students with measurable qualifications that can be used in industry. So the question is why are they not being hired but in the majority of cases their qualification is being looked down on and internships and jobs are being given to university students only.

This attitude of employers is preventing students from finding gainful employment resulting in them being forced into low-level jobs with very little if any prospect of career advancement.

What's your take?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Teacher Unions, effective or not?

Teacher unions have influenced education policy and social change throughout history. On the other hand, the development and history of teacher unions are closely related to their political relationship with government.

In this day in age it is quite clear that because of their role in policy implementation, teacher unions are not only able to sabotage or promote policies but also to influence society's perception about government performance.

With all this in play are unions really effective? Can they continue to only have teacher's best interest at heart and nobody else? How can they allow srikes to continue for months on end knowing full well the impact it will have on the learners? There is a role for unions to play in a democratic society but it is a questionable role when the outcome of their actions is always to the detriment of the most vulnerable members in society- our children.

The question is: do we really need that?

Ideas from:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teaching in South Africa, where are we going

One could argue that South Africa is one of the more affluent countries in Africa but does this mean anything if we are failing to produce good teachers who in turn are failing to produce well educated learners who will be our future leaders?

Rural schools are faced with a myriad of problems of which under-qualified teachers are but one. How can we then expect good results from the vast majority of our learners when in actual fact poor teaching is at the root of our under performing education system. Could we be heading towards a future with no institutionalized teaching where parents will be left to educate their children at home and teachers become a distant memory...

The good teachers are mostly to be found in the ex model C schools where their skills, dedication and hard work are recognized and well compensated for. Now what does this mean for all previously disadvantaged schools? Will they be forever stuck with under qualified teachers who have lost their drive for teaching because of financial and behavioral issues? Will our learners rich and poor never receive the same level of instruction? Will the teaching profession continue to be overlooked leaving us with an even bigger shortage of skilled and passionate teachers?

What's your take?

Ideas from:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Are school systems preparing our children for the real world

Are school leavers ready for life after school? Are they academically proficient and work skilled on the same level? Home life and high school provide both security and predictability, but in the time immediately after, our young people are left to their own devices. Unfortunately they don't always have the right information, especially when they make critical decisions, sometimes in the heat of the moment. I'm not convinced that our approach to the transition between school and life thereafter is working, or that it ever has. This then leads to the question of who should be taking responsibility, is it the parents? The learners themselves? Teachers? Or our educational system as a whole.

The world is constantly changing, and grows in complexity with each new day. So it is vitally important that our children understand how it works from a very early stage. They should have access to all the information we can give them. Even though the sheer volume of information has made it difficult for anyone to offer clear perspective on life choices and the right places to source information. Are educators also restricted by the demands and confines of the curriculum? Education has numerous academic checks and balances, yet there is no measurement of how well we've prepared our learners for the real world.

Do you think the local school systems are preparing our children for the future?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Education and teachers, what's your take?

We need a national debate on education. At the moment we are driving down a unknown road without a map, we don't know where we are going exactly, what point we're at, how far we have to go or where our destination is. What kind of education system do we want? What is the purpose of our education system?

We talk equality but we implement differentiation, so in reality we have a two-tiered school system. What do business and industry want out of education? What do parents want? We are also confusing schooling with education and that is having a negative impact on basic education. There should be rigorous systems of accountability. We need to determine clearly defined standards of behaviour and performance and then place measures of accountability, and make sure that teachers and principals live up to them. Such monitoring and evaluation cannot be conducted by the teachers themselves, but must be undertaken by external, independent bodies and the community that uses the school. If our education system is to be competitive and productive, then we have to have standards that must be maintained.

This means improving district structures as well. One of our problems is that policy is set at national level and supposedly implemented at provincial level, but with provinces excluded from policy making, there is little interest in delivery. This in turn defeats and degrades the concept of policy. A more genuinely de-centralised system would promote much greater community involvement and school level accountability.

A further problem lies not only in the massive backlog of teachers, but also the low erosion rate of teachers and principals. When these professionals stay in one place for long periods, it becomes extremely difficult to implement any kind of change. This also leads to the culture shock awaiting new teachers trained with modern methods who are confronted with stubborn resistance to change by established teachers who often use out-dated methods and poor work practices, they don't know how to overcome this so they frequently either resign or give up and adopt. A starting point would need to be a detailed and realistic national plan on education. This will allow us to start getting the basic blocks in place.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What the new year has in store

The holiday season has come and gone. The new year is here!

Teachers need to be prepared for the new term, the new year and the influx of eager learners excited to learn and start the year in a new grade. It is imperative that teachers adopt a pro-active, positive approach to managing the challenges of the new year in an effort to ensure that learners become the best that they can be.

Enthusiasm for your role as a teacher and preparation are the key to making 2012 a success. Learners are looking up to you for guidence and help to reach their academic goals. As an educator you need to realize how important your role is in creating the leaders of tomorrow.

Work together with learners, colleagues, parents and the broader community to make this another year of teaching excellence as every contribution counts.