A competency test for teachers, a major thumbs up.

2014-11-18 18:45

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela Angie Motshekga and The Department of Basic Education are headed in the right direction with their latest initiative to implement competency tests for teachers who apply for senior posts or promotions. However I feel that we should take it one step further and have competency tests available for not only the more higher levels of the hierarchy. We need to encourage and force a higher standard of performance from all our teachers. We should have a system in place where every single employed teacher has to pass the relevant competency tests, the results of their tests will be published to only the department and that specific teacher. Obviously avoiding any embarrassment, they would be allowed a period of 2 years to re-educate themselves and take the test again or fear the possibility of losing their teaching license. Despite spending massive resources on our education system, we continue to deprive learners of the sort of truly enriching educational opportunities, with compassionate and well-trained teachers. A large number of teachers already voiced their opinion stating that the fairness requirement will not be met if the state actually implements this system also; they believe that teaching involves much too broad a spectrum of skills, knowledge, attitudes and human understanding to be fully measured by a high or low score on a paper and pencil test. In fact it appears that competency testing can narrow the broad scope of academic excellence by zeroing in on easily measurable objectives while less easily defined but equally important skills. We can question on how does one measure motivation, creativity, ingenuity or compassion on a competency test? Another issue is the shortage of teachers and by having this system in place, not only will it discourage potential future teachers but it will further limit an already small circle of teachers available in South Africa. Even though there are numerous cons related to having competency tests in place. We have major educational hurdles to overcome; we have to be the generation that identifies a solution almost immediately when an issue arises. We have a really poor and complex educational system, the syllabus is constantly changing and most of the devastating aspects of apartheid played out in schools and universities, which led to the majority being deprived of proper education. Segregated schools deprived the majority of South Africans of educational advancements for generations. 20 years later and we cannot take any comfort from what public schooling offers our children. I strongly believe in competency tests, not the basic paper and pencil high and low score type but a competency test that is sub divided into say 4 sections. It should cover adaptability, academic and general knowledge, leadership/attitudes and competence. These tests should include a written and practical aspect to it. It might be costly and take a longer period of time to develop the number of teachers we develop currently but the standard of these teachers will be higher, they will educate our youth and improve their opportunities to achieve academically, morally and socially. I would love to see more of these initiatives and innovative ideas to improve the standards of our country and its various departments/industries. I wish that more of the state departments will follow suit and identify innovative ways and implement them accordingly.

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