The death of OBE

We’ve heard it all before, teachers, pupils and parents have all complained about how terrible the OBE system is. The main complaint has been how learners are going through the system and coming out on the other end not having learnt anything and matriculants often aren't ready for university studies.

On Tuesday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced plans to replace the OBE system with the new Schooling 2025 curriculum. There are a lot of changes being made to the current system that will see that teachers won’t be burdened with an unnecessary amount of admin work and will be able to put more time and effort into lesson planning and teaching. Pupils will also be able to concentrate more on core work.

Why OBE didn’t work

Shafiek Schroeder, a teacher at Lentegeur High School in Mitchells Plain explains that no system will be able to work properly if the socio-economic climate of the country isn’t sound. “There are children in Khayelitsha who don’t have access to libraries and the Internet, and that’s what the OBE system is based on”.

Motshekga also says that the Common Tasks Assessment for Grade 9s will be done away with, something that a lot of teachers felt was unnecessary.
The development of teaching materials and course outlines were left to the teachers with little support from the Department of Education.

What’s changing

There is going to be a shift to a more content based knowledge and the use of textbooks as a source of information. Learners from Grades 4 – 6 will only have 6 subjects instead of 8. Technology will be combined with Science, Arts and Culture will be combined with Life Orientation and Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) will be taught only from Grade 7.

Each subject will have “a single, comprehensive and concise curriculum and assessment policy statement that will provide details on what teachers ought to teach and assess on a grade-by-grade and subject-by-subject basis” said Motshekga.

From Grade 1, learners will be taught in their mother tongue and it will also be taught as one of their subjects. Symbol ratings that are currently being used from Grades 10-12 will be extended from Grade R – 9 as well.

There will be regular, externally set exams for Grades 3,6 and 9 to assess the literacy and numeracy skills of learners. The weighting for continuous assessment and year end exams for the different Grades are as follows:

  • Grades R-3:    100% continuous assessment
  • Grades 4-6:     75% continuous assessment: 25% end of year exam 
  • Grades 7-9:     40%: continuous assessment: 60% end of year exam
  • Grades 10-12: 25% continuous assessment  : 75% end of year exam

It seems as if more emphasis will be placed on reading, writing and arithmetic with the aid of workbooks and assessments. This shift is a welcomed change and hopefully will aid rather than hinder the future of our children.
What do you think about the changes to the OBE system? Are you in favour of them?

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