Education dept adopts recommendations on NCS

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Education has adopted the recommendations made by a task team on the review of the National Curriculum Statement (NCS).

In July this year, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga set up a team of experts to investigate challenges in the implementation of the NCS.

The report recommended changes that will relieve teachers and schools of some of the challenges experienced as a result of the current curriculum assessment policies and to leave more time for teaching and learning.

Motshekga announced on Thursday that they will implement those recommendations that can be put in place immediately.

This includes developing syllabi for implementation in 2011, discontinueing the use of learning of portfolios from 2010, reducing the use of learning areas in intermediate phase and emphasising the use of English from as early as possible for the majority of learners.

The minister, however, emphasised that the use of English did not include those learners who did not already know the language.

"The teachers will require only one file for administrative purposes, we should clarify the role of subject advisers and reduce the number of projects required by learners," Motshekga said.

The department therefore plans to distribute textbooks in every learning area to all Grade 4 to 12 learners. The additional R524 million allocated to education during the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement on Tuesday would be used to supply textbooks.

"The department will use guidelines for textbooks acquisition and distribution and retrieval to all schools, we'll also strengthen the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign that aims to mobilise all South Africans to commit to the goal of quality in education."

She, however, noted the budget would not address the infrastructure backlog.

"We need R168 billion and South Africa doesn't have those resources to do it once," she said, adding that the legacy of apartheid was extremely stubborn to eradicate.

The extensive learning and teaching packs for Grade R to 6 had been developed and would be distributed to all primary schools in January 2010.

The minister stressed out that the department was not doing away with the Outcome Based Education but streamlining and simplifying it.

The changes aimed at simplifying the administrative functions that teachers are responsible for that do not have a major bearing on their teaching and to provide structured, systematic support, Motshekga said.

The department is also developing its own tools through the establishment of the National Educational Evaluation Development Unit, which will evaluate teachers and schools and the entire system to identify challenges.

"[The national department] will monitor and assist the provinces, who will do the training, we'll guide their content, look at their plans to ensure that the quality is right and the budget is used accordingly," said Motshekga said.

South African Democratic Teachers Union President Thobile Ntola welcomed the report.

"We are happy with the reduction of administration work by teachers, we are aware of the commitment of the current administration and ensure to work with them on the implementation of the NCS and we are certain that it going to work, it might not be 100 percent, but we'll be there," Ntola said.