Longer hours for pupils

2011-12-28 00:00

FOUNDATION phase (Grade R to three) pupils will have longer days at school from next year, the Basic Education Department announced yesterday.

Instead of the home-bell ringing at 2 pm, the pupils will finish class 30 minutes later.

Spokesperson Hope Mokgatlhe said the move was in line with the department’s new curriculum and assessment policy statement (Caps), and that it would start in January.

“This is mainly to accommodate the teaching of a second language in the foundation phase, be it English, Afrikaans or any of the official languages in the country.

“Currently English is introduced in Grade four and this proved problematic as we find Grade 11 learners having difficulty in expressing themselves in the language,” said Mokgatlhe.

She said English remained a crucial language as it was the medium in which the school curriculum was taught and tested in South Africa.

“The plan is to focus on literacy, numeracy and life skills at an early stage so that when learners reach higher classes they are prepared.”

Literacy was previously taught over nine hours and 10 minutes a week.

From next year 10 hours of class time will be split between the teaching of each of the first and second languages.

Instruction time for mathematics will decrease from seven hours and 30 minutes a week to seven hours.

Asked if this would have a detrimental effect on mathematics, Mokgatlhe said the teaching of the subject would not be affected.

“Mathematics is losing 30 minutes and this is not a problem in any way.”

Individual schools would decide how they wanted to shape their timetables in accordance with the changes brought in by Caps.

The South African Democratic Teacher’s Union (Sadtu) said it would support the programme fully as long as it was implemented in the way it had been presented.

Sadtu KwaZulu-Natal secretary Mbuyiseni Mathontsi said the move to deal with literacy and numeracy was long overdue.

“We were so much impressed when the department presented this programme a while back.

“If implemented exactly the way it was presented to us, then we are [heading] in the right direction. During the presentation the department said that in the province parents must know that children in the foundation phase are able to count from one to 100 at a certain stage.

“If this is not happening then the parent can come to the school to find out what the problem is,” said Mathontsi.

He said longer school days were not an issue because this was to the benefit of the learners and the country.

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