Blame bad teachers for bad schools – Angie Motshekga

2014-10-06 10:12

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Blame for schools that perform badly should be laid at the door of teachers, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has said.

“Whenever I go to schools that perform well and ask principals what it is that they do to make their schools work, time and again they tell me the same thing: they have a group of dedicated, committed and caring teachers.”

The opposite was also true, said Motshekga, adding that more often than not, bad schools were a direct result of bad teachers.

“Where things don’t work, teachers are not doing their jobs right. They don’t complete the curriculum, they jump topics, they are not in class and they often don’t understand the content of what they teach.”

If we could sort out our teachers, more than 70% of our problems would be sorted out, she said.

Motshekga was delivering the keynote address at the South African Principals Association conference currently under way at the Ranch Hotel outside Polokwane, in Limpopo.

Badly performing schools, she said, always outsourced problems to crime, drugs and other social ills in their communities

Motshekga did not spare her department either, saying it had not covered itself in glory by not providing infrastructure, poor management practices and general chaos in administration.

Teacher development

In an effort to solve some of the many problems in the system, Motshekga said teacher development would be a key component of the next five years.

“Teacher development is one of the major focus areas in this current term of office. This will include various policy reviews including conditions of service, teacher recruitment, deployment, utilisation and development, including their general professional development,” she said.

As a start, the department had undertaken a major teacher profiling campaign.

“To succeed in the area of teacher development, we had to determine the quality and quantity of existing skills in our sector, hence we are rolling out the process of teacher profiling.

“This is important in order to ensure that we have the correct teacher teaching the correct subject in the correct grade.”

The lack of teacher profiling had resulted in the wrong deployment of teachers, the upshot being qualified teachers teaching subjects they had no clue about, she said.

Motshekga said she was happy that all unions had also launched their own “teacher development institutes”.

“I am happy to report that we now have 131 fully functioning teacher training centres. We firmly hold the view that the classroom is a centre piece of learning and teaching. And, at the core of this learning and teaching is a competent and confident teacher.

“Teachers are the backbone of any functional education system. It is within this context that we decided that the best way to deliver quality education was to continuously upgrade the content knowledge of our teachers,” she said.

In addition to the institutes, Motshekga said the department had also established subject committees and professional learning communities. These, she said, would contribute to curriculum development and the effective implementation thereof.

“Curriculum coverage remains the core business of everything we do in education and therefore it is vitally important that we are all working together on the same page to deliver a quality curriculum both effectively as well as efficiently,” she said.

It was for this reason that the department has also established norms and standards, and business processes and plans for grade-specific curriculum management and support.

Schools, Motshekga said, were the most important element of the sector.

“Schools are our clients and if anything we do, does not impact on schools, it’s not worth doing. Our success will depend on how well we run our schools.”

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