2010 Legacy: Nuts, bolts of quality education

2010-07-15 13:40

While South Africa has made huge strides in education since the establishment of our ­democracy, it is well known that learner achievement is unsatisfactory by ­international standards.

The Department of Basic Education is determined to address those challenges which continue to detract from how far we have come.

We have made sustained efforts to work towards strengthening planning and monitoring to achieve our goals.

The ­national basic education action plan, to be known as Schooling 2025: The ­Department of Basic Education’s Action Plan, sets out what we need to achieve over the next 15 years.

It establishes a set of measurable ­indicators which will allow for the ­monitoring of progress throughout the system, covering all aspects of basic ­education including enrolment and ­retention of learners, teachers’ ­performance, delivery and maintenance of infrastructure, school funding, learner wellbeing and school safety, mass literacy and educational quality.

By 2014 we must see an increase in the number of Grade 12 learners who pass the national examinations and qualify to ­enter university, and an increase in the number of Grade 12 learners who pass mathematics and physical science.

Simultaneously, the percentage of learners who obtain the minimum ­acceptable mark in the national ­assessments for literacy and numeracy must improve to at least 60%.

From this year, standardised annual ­national assessments of the quality of learning will take place for all Grade 3, 6 and 9 learners.

This will provide the ­department with the necessary ­monitoring tool to assess national learner achievement and school performance across all provinces.

We will also focus on key aspects which will lead to the achievement of these ­targets.

Teacher development and ­support are crucial to improving learner performance.

A significant intervention in this regard is the establishment of the National ­Education Evaluation and Development Unit this year.

Its role will be to assess and develop strategies for improving the quality of ­educational outcomes and supporting schools in achieving this.

The unit will ensure that learners learn and achieve, teachers teach and departmental officials support schools properly.

A key deliverable will be the ­national teacher development plan.

This detailed plan will focus on teacher ­development over the next five years, ­nested in a longer-term plan to ensure a sustainable teacher development system.

We are also exploring innovative ways of ensuring that infrastructural backlogs are eradicated in the short term to ensure that learning can take place in dignified ­conditions.

By strengthening planning, monitoring and evaluation for the entire basic ­education sector and setting realistic ­targets, we will be able to measure performance and intervene where necessary.

This will ensure clearer direction and more effective responsiveness of the ­system, and in this way we will ensure ­improved learner achievement and ­quality learning and teaching.

» ?Soobrayan is the director-general of the Department of Basic Education
 

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