Hierdie is die LitNet-argief (2006–2012)
This is the LitNet archive (2006–2012)
Jameson Maluleke - 2009-01-14
The absence of reading culture amongst our school children, for instance, which is bemoaned by the country at large, has a direct bearing on the high rate of matric failure. If children are not taught good manners, to uphold their own people’s culture or to preserve their country’s fauna and flora in their growing years, they are sure going to be hopeless failures in their adulthood, simple as that. It is beyond all human comprehension to understand why education authorities expect school children who can’t read, write and count to pass their matric examination with flying colours, and the labour market to absorb such unrefined students with ease. School children need to be taught how to read, write and count unless teachers are oblivious of their obligations once they’re in a class situation.
In years gone by, the Bantu Education system used to carve a black man into a useful idiot rather than a learned person. Only exceptional students studied as far as matric, and very few received university education. The rest went down in history as school children who were trained to read danger signs and instructions as befit menial workers. Fifteen years down the line, our education authorities have succeeded only in replacing the name of the previous much hated system with a new imported one.
This revelation is an embarrassment not only to the education authorities, but to all South Africans. Nobody can explain how South Africa leads other African countries if it can’t put its education house in order. Nobody can explain why our highly trained education staff members continue to fail our school children.
OBE is an imported education system widely used in developed countries like Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. It was hastily introduced in South Africa without assessing whether it is suited for a country struggling to recover from the ravages of the liberation war.
It was not long before teachers complained that as much as the system is attractive, they could not use it as most schools have no resources or teaching aids. Teachers had attended countless workshops to introduce them to the new education system, but they either found it impractical or they could not understand it. In short, teachers could not implement it in schools. Bhengu reached the end of his term as a minister without being able to implement it.
Education analyst Kobus Maree said that something had to be done to address the scourge of illiterate youngsters. "We can only blame the way outcomes-based education (OBE) was introduced in 1997. OBE itself is not the problem, but the way it came into schools - particularly in poorer schools in the rural and township areas where teachers did not have teaching and learning aids," he said.
Maree said if the problem was not corrected, many youngsters would be negatively affected. He said the only solution, in his opinion, was to give pupils who were battling, an extra year or two at school to catch up, and for the government to make it compulsory for qualified teachers to teach in rural areas for a specific period of time. He said that with education going "full-cycle" into the new curriculum from this year, experts would be able to assess the full impact of outcomes-based education in the country (The Mercury, September 12, 2008}.
This year more 592 000 matric students became the first group of students (the so-called guinea pigs) to write their final examination based on the (in)famous OBE curriculum. The shocking results have proved to all the doubting Thomases that OBE should be dumped in the trash bin. At 66,5 percent, the matric pass rate was slightly higher in 2006 than that of 2007, which was 65,2 percent. Although 2008 results (62,5) cannot be compared with those of the previous years because they are the first harvest of the OBE curriculum, the small percentage difference of 2,7 percent between the 2007 matric results and those of 2008 raises the question: How come students with the history of under-education and miseducation, that is, students who can’t read, write and count, managed to obtain a 62,5 percent matric pass rate? This is too high a percentage for students who can’t read or answer an examination question paper. One cannot rule out the fact that the results might have been doctored – they might have been condoned using students’ year marks to enable them to pass in large numbers.
Judging by the conduct and workings of foreign nationals from countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique, one is convinced that education authorities in those countries had virtually managed to discover a useful education system. Although there are no statistics to back my claim, many of these people living in South Africa today are prosperous in that their education has equipped them with life skills to create jobs for themselves rather than to seek for a government job. They are shoemakers, builders, painters, electricians, gardeners, and to a lesser teachers and university lecturers. I doubt if ministers of education in thosse two countries have gone out of their way to import foreign education systems. They used the traditional education system which had been around before them and insisted on having it successfully implemented.
The question is: What stops us from using a home-brewed method to educate our children so that they grow up to be upright and law-abiding citizens of tomorrow? Part of the answer lies in the fact that the DOE is, like all government departments, politicised. DOE has been run by ministers who have also been national executive members of the ruling party since 1994. So our education policy is essentially the ruling party’s version of how it wants our young ones to be nurtured.
He said, “This includes going back to basics such as phonetics, allocating reading time during classes, setting comprehension and spelling tests, working on learners’ spelling and vocabulary and multiplication tables. They shouldn’t introduce calculators too soon. Learners must get a sense of numbers.”
Gaum is also in favour of mother-tongue tuition from Grade R to Grade 6. His positive shouts might get swallowed by the hullabaloo of party politics. Nevertheless, fussing won’t help a bit. Leaders like Gaum should be encouraged to see more clearly on one hand. And on the other hand, our education authorities should call for a referendum – asking people to make a choice of education system for their children rather than introduce disastrous foreign education methods.