School help ‘must start early’

2007-12-31 00:00

FOR the South African education system to see better results in matric, intervention should start at entry level rather than exit point.

This is the view of Dr Vijay Reddy, executive director of the research programmes on Education, Science and Skills Development at the Human Sciences Research Council, who expressed concern at the still declining pass rate.

Interventions have clearly come too late for the 53 672 pupils who failed matric this year.

The KZN Education Department is adamant that its interventions are yielding results, but Reddy said these should start at primary school level.

“I believe we were a bit naive to project immediate results starting from grade 10 to 12. We should have built foundation knowledge at lower grades. These will take a long time to achieve, yes, but there is no faster way to do it,” she said.

Reddy said reading and writing skills are crucial, and require the involvement of parents.

“Once we have developed the key focus earlier, we need measures to monitor them from as early as grade three, rather than at the exit point,” Reddy added.

The KZN intervention plan, adopted on January 25, 2007, covered all schools that achieved a pass rate of under 50% in 2006, and had funding of R20 million.

The aim was to help the schools with resources to improve teaching. These included sufficient setworks; study guides in English, mathematics, physical science, biology, history, economics and travel and tourism; audio and video materials in selected subjects; newspaper supplements; and mobile classrooms.

“I am confident that the cumulative effect of our interventions has been positive,” said MEC Ina Cronjé.

Matrics who failed have four years to obtain their senior certificates, as they cannot return to school because the 2008 class will write under the new curriculum.

Of the 148 093 full-time pupils who wrote the exam, 94 421 passed.

From grade R to grade 12, pupils will learn and write under the new outcomes-based National Curriculum Statement and will be receiving the National Senior Certificate in 2008.

Pupils will only be expected to re-write the subjects they failed and examinations will be written in May and June of every year from 2008 to 2011.

According to Cronjé, these pupils will be provided with support in key subjects outside normal school hours between February and May in 2008, and Saturday classes in selected centres throughout the province will also be made available. This information will be published in media in the first week of January, she said.

The registration date for the May 2008 examination is January 15.

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