OBE is no longer — minister

2010-07-06 00:00

MINISTER of Basic Education Angie Motshekga is expected to brief the media today about major issues touching education, among which will be the announcement of changes to the 2011 curriculum.

Addressing the National Assembly last year, Motshekga announced a review process of the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) with the idea of making it more teachable.

The process will be phased out in the next five years, she said.

The decision followed Motshekga’s appointment of a panel of experts in July to investigate the nature of the challenges and problems being experienced in the curriculum’s implementation.

Though this review process is said to have been started by her predecessor, Naledi Pandor, it was the first time the government was seen to be openly admitting to flaws in the system.

The introduction of Curriculum 2005 and the NCS were highly contested and both have received considerable criticism for overburdening teachers and for the confusion that has arisen over outcomes-based education (OBE).

More distressing was the growing trend of under-perfor­mance among South African pupils, both in the international and local assessment arenas.

The loudest voice has been that of educationist Dr Mamphela Ramphele, who has tirelessly called for the scrapping of OBE on the basis of its failure in other countries.

However, the government has inisted that OBE is here to stay.

Motshekga told the National Assembly to applause: “The question on everyone’s lips is why we do not, as Mamphela Ramphele always wants us to do, declare the death certificate of outcomes-based education? I must say that we have to all intents and purposes done so.

“So, if anyone asks if we are going to continue with OBE, we say that there is no longer OBE. We have completely done away with it.”

A spokesperson for the National Association of Professional Teachers of SA (Naptosa), Anthony Pierce, told The Witness that teacher morale continues to be low because of a number of issues, including the assumed changes to the curriculum.

“Teachers and the general public assume that there are going to be major changes to the curriculum immediately, and that is not true.

“What the minister has in mind, and it is supported by Naptosa, is gradual changes. The curriculum task teams’ and writing teams’ current report is a work in progress. What they are tasked with is re-packaging the curriculum,” he said.

Pierce said the timeline changes that the union will propose will be to target the Foundation phase first in 2011. This will be followed by General Education Training (GET), which targets grades eight to 10. Grade 11 will chan­ge in 2012.

The implementation of changes to grade 12 will be in 2013.

Pierce said he believes that if the department tries to rush the time- line, education will be headed for disaster, as has been the pattern in previous years.

Dr Gerhard Griesel, chairperson of the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU) in KZN, said the union expects Motshekga to announce a further move away from OBE towards content-based education.

“We regard OBE as the biggest window-dressing exercise in the history of South African education. The SAOU has always been against the implementation of OBE, but in order to make a positive contribution to education in the country, we always worked with the system as best as we can by sending out explanatory circulars and giving extensive training to our members.”

Griesel said one of the most damaging aspects of OBE was the “millions of man-hours lost by taking teachers out of the classroom for what was often unnecessary training”.

EDUCATION spokesperson Granville Whittle reiterated that the minister will not be introducing a new curriculum.

He said that, based on advice on curriculum chan­ges from the ministerial committee she had initiated, certain changes were already implemented in 2010.

These changes have included the reduction in the number of projects pupils undertake, as well as the abolition of the pupils’ portfolio files.

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