After learning of the dismal showing by pupils in the Annual National Assessments results, we are tempted to reproduce the article we published in Politisweb of 20 July 2010 in which we sought to highlight that the education system followed in this country was never thoroughly researched for the needs of our children.
The results prove that education in the Foundation Phase of our schools system is down and out.
There has been so much talk about the poor quality of education offered in this country that those in authority hardly find sleep about the dismal failure education is in this country.
It is unfortunate that on gaining power the ANC never exercised their minds thoroughly regarding what they would like the nation to learn. The good ideas and documents on education that were churned out during the days of the struggle seem to have been left in some inaccessible archives.
All nations revamp their education systems on gaining freedom but the ANC tried to take the Outcomes Based Education system without having looked into whether it will be suitable for our needs.
They should have known that change is very difficult to administer. They should have started with pilot schools or even provinces to find out to what extent the system is manageable. This would have given them time to train teachers for this new system of education.
The management of change has shown that at all times in all cases there are enthusiasts, those who are receptive to change, some are slow to accept the change while others reject change outright.
The mixture of the threesome is enough to see any system fail. It is unfortunate when even the enthusiasts turn their backs on the issue. The laggards take even more time to find out if it will succeed.
That there was no supervision in the form of education officers was yet another problem.
In the last twelve months the minister has tinkered the education system twice already, and despite that she says it is the end she will still have to revisit it to remove some chunks that may be unwelcome.
We have to accept that education is a process that has to evolve with the times; it cannot be static. It however needs enthusiastic and passionate practitioners who get into it as a labour of love and not as a means to turn rich.
Education needs selfless people like the departed giants such as Tamsanqa Kambule, Prof Ernest S Moloto, Prof William Kgware and many others who strove and burnt the midnight oil to improve themselves academically while also nurturing their students.
It is unfortunate that teacher development is not being institutionalised by the department. Such an important part of education cannot be left to universities. The education of early childhood teachers should take preference in the programme of the education department. Much talk without action on the reopening of teacher education colleges will cost the nation much in the long run. Teacher development should not be left to universities only.
The department should of necessity have in-service training centres so that any contemplation of a curriculum change can be mounted at such centres. Teachers would attend and go back to class after two weeks and try the new methods. Their success or otherwise would be noticed promptly and corrected.
Human beings are unlike machines that are brought back to the factory floor once it is noted that they have faults. Human beings cannot be recalled to the primary school if they are found wanting in numeracy and literacy or any learning area. They should be taught well right from the beginning as tinkering with the curriculum 12 years later is of no consequence to those who have been subjected to the poor education.
We do not want to gloat and say we told them, but we are vindicated and hope all those involved in education will go back to the basics with the full knowledge that the years lost in education will be difficult to recover as human beings cannot be taken back to the factory floor to correct faults made at the assembly point!
Sent by: Sipho Mfundisi
Deputy President: UCDP
Cell: 083 469 3473