Education System Overhaul (Part 1): Policy Perspective
In my previous post I pointed out the dire state which South Africa's basic education sector currently sits with. At the root of the problem is a crisis of leadership, part of which can be traced back to the poor education and dedication amongst those tasked with moulding and shaping policies, implementation (education officers, teachers, principals etc) and also monitoring and evaluation of interventions.
Recently I had a 'Facebook conversation' with a friend who
highlighted it would not be fair to expect a disadvantaged learner with no proper resources, being taught by a non-degreed teacher etc to be subjected to the same minimum 50% pass mark. I differed with her perspective because that is exactly where we are getting things wrong as a country. The state of an individual or society can not be improved by subjecting/exposing them to a low standard. A high standard pushes people to go beyond their normal capacities and tap into hidden potential.
There are some interventions which I suggest the Ministry of Basic Education takes into account. I will be quick to point out some of these suggestions have been highlighted countless number of times on different platforms.
i) Teacher training colleges
More need to be established to ensure those tasked with educating are themselves adequately educated. There have been recent cases where teachers were given the same exams which their learners were sitting for...and the pass rate was dismal :(. Apart from initial training there should be Continous Professional Development (CPD) by the teachers to ensure they are up to date with current trends.
ii) Remuneration more attractive
Teachers like any other working person have lives to live and families to look after, 'bread and butter' issues are therefore matters of concern. Properly trained and remunerated teachers will enable focus to be on how best to equip learners instead of energy being focused on 'toyi-toying' for better packages.
The minimum standards of how learning institutions need to be constituted need to be implemented as soon as yesterday. Each year Education receives one the largest shares in the National Budget- which means money is not the problem. The Department of Public Works has to ensure financial managers with project management acumen are in place to ensure funds get channelled to the right areas i.e. building of classrooms, electrification of schools etc.
iv) Educational Technology
We are currently living in the Information Age and the use of information technology (IT) has to become part and parcel of the educational landscape in the country. Last year there was a debacle surrounding textbooks in the country. As much as there was an issue of gross negligence and mismanagement as came out, the question we should be asking ourselves...in this day and age with rapid changes- should we still be using physical textbooks? Policy makers can look at rolling out the integration of IT in the SA education system.
~As an example: A tablet can hold all the textbooks which a learner requires for their subjects. If there are any changes in the edition or curriculum...all that will be required is downloading of the new edition. Virtual lessons can be conducted as well whereby learners get to exposed to other practitioners who can equip the with skills they might not have been able to obtain in their school.
v) Curriculum Development
The process of developing curricula for the different grades in the Basic Education level should focus on equipping learners to understand and not just to memorise material. For understanding to be established, the teachers/ facilitators have to be well equipped in the subject itself and also in techniques of how to empower the learners. Some have argued for the need to teach learners using their mother tongue in order to assist in the issue of understanding. However, the problem which has been encountered is the inability for the learners to adapt later on to having English as a language of instruction.
There are many other interventions which one can propose, but I will will leave it here as pertains to the policy perspective. Feel free to add more and to also provide comments to the proposed.
In the next instalment I will touch on another perspective and use a case study of a rural school in Kwa-Zulu Natal which has been performing exceptionally against all odds.
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