OBE education system revisited

2010-07-06 13:01

The Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) system will not be completely scrapped but will be modified to improve the performance of school pupils, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said today.

Admitting that the old curriculum had major problems, Motshekga said her department was reviewing the design and methodology of the OBE system.

“We have and will continue to make changes on an ongoing basis where they can be made with minimal disruption. We expect better outcomes from the system,” she told members of the media in Pretoria.

Acknowledging that the curriculum had been reviewed twice since its introduction 12 years ago, the minister said this shuffling was basically “removing the last ghost of 1998” but it was not a wholesale abandoning of the system.

“We now talk of a national curriculum and not OBE... It can’t be true that we are phasing it out, we want to ensure stability and no fatigue.”

Some of the changes in the system included the reduction of the number of projects for pupils. The department had also since the beginning of the year, done away with the need for portfolio files of pupils’ assessments and discontinued the Common Task for Assessment for Grade 9 pupils.

This followed recommendations by a ministerial committee tasked with the review of the implementation of the National Curriculum Statement last year.

The committee backed an outcry by teachers that they were overloaded with administrative work and that curriculum goals were unrealistic as some pupils lacked resources like study material and access to the internet.

The Council of Education Ministers last month approved the reduction of a number of learning areas in the intermediate phase from eight to six and that English be taught together with mother tongue instruction. However, Motshekga emphasised that English would not replace pupil’s home languages in the early grades.

The policy of continuous assessment had also changed, particularly for Grade 7 to 9. Matrics remained unaffected with 75% of their marks coming from the year-end exams and 25% from continuous assessment.

Motshekga said the phasing in of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements in the foundation phase, would only happen next year to allow time for the orientation and training of teachers.

“We will phase in other grades in 2012 so that we can make the necessary preparations,” she said, adding that because some of the changes had policy implications, her department would keep to due process and invite public comment.

“Our overarching priority is to bring about a fundamental change in schooling outcomes.”

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