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