Tag Archives: Department of Basic Education

Draconian measures required to fix SA broken education system

Nelson Mandela education quote


Is South Africa and government progressing in the challenge to reverse the legacy of Bantu education. Is the leadership of South Africa being honest and doing all it can to address all the wrongs of Apartheid? Even though the country has come a long way since the dark days of Apartheid, there are still so many challenges and issues to address and it all begins with a good education system and strong leadership.

During the dark days of Apartheid, the education system discriminated against individuals based on their skin color and ethnicity. The result of Bantu education prohibited the vast majority of our society from accessing a decent education system and deprived them of basic school resources. Even with these deplorable our society prevailed. The fall of Apartheid brought a sense of hope and expectation that there would be a profound change in the education system offering a decent and equal education to all citizens of South Africa.

Sadly after 20 years, freedom and democracy has not brought about any changes for many citizens and children of the country. Contrary to the promises of many politicians and the Constitution of South Africa, many citizens and children still do not have access to a decent education granting them the opportunity and chance to a improve their lives and those close to them. The South Africa education system continues to fail or provide for those children who have no power to change anything. The Department of Education problems and issues continue to grow even with the changes and updates to the system on a whole.


Textbooks and proper learning material

Firstly, let start with basics and where education all begins. In order to learn you need textbooks and lets be honest, for those children in the Limpopo Province, they have been dealt a huge blow at no fault of their own with the ‘textbook scandal’. To date, no one has been held accountable for this and the government and leadership has yet to give a reasonable and honest explanation for this disaster. The delivery of textbook to children is not an issue in Limpopo but also in the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal. All this is doing is delaying the education of children because of the lack of accountability in government and leadership of our country.

In many areas of the country there is still a scarcity of libraries to provide school pupils additional resources to supplement the lack of resources at schools. In many areas it is only the teachers who have textbooks in the classrooms. How do we as a society and government, who are the custodians of the country, expect our children to succeed at school and provide them with the opportunity to further their education at college and university. How do we expect children to learn, do school projects, write tests without access to the proper learning material.  It should be a criminal offense with highest and most extreme punishment attached for those individuals and government officials who are depriving the children of South Africa a basic education.


UN Declaration of the Rights

On 20 November 1959 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a much expanded version as its own Declaration of the Rights of the Child, adding ten principles in place of the original five. Principle 7 reads as follows:

“The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society.

  The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the first place with his parents.”

  The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavour to promote the enjoyment of this right.”

It is a grave injustice and criminal for the children of South Africa to suffer because of the incompetence of our government and those individuals responsible for providing a basic education.


School infrastructure and maintenance

The next major problem the country faces is the lack of proper and basic infrastructure and maintenance in schools. In some parts of the country, children have to walk vast distances to go to school only to sit under a tree which is their classroom. How can we expect a child to learn like in winter. How can we expect our children to grow up and succeed in life when they, in some instances, children have to walk barefoot and no food in their stomach while we hear of stories of government officials riding around in the latest BMW, taking first class airline trip, staying in 5 star hotels, government officials  running up tabs at Nandos running tabs into the 10’s of thousands, the suspect R80 billion arms deal….. the list goes on and on and on.

For those areas that do have basic schools and infrastructure, you will find that many of the roofs are leaking, there is no access to clean water and sanitation. However, our leaders, government, and parents still expect the children of the country to succeed in these deplorable school environments.


Teacher training and qualifications

Given all of this, school children are further burdened with the reality that they are taught by under-qualified teachers. There are many teachers that are very professional and are contributing immensely to the education system, however looking at the system as a whole, this is still not enough. Why are there still teachers out there arriving late for class. Why are there teachers that do not have or understand the curriculum being allowed to teach our children. All this is doing is placing the children of the country at a disadvantage and placing a huge amount of stress on the future growth and development of the country.

In order to give schools pupils any hope of success, we need to provide them with a quality education taught by qualified teachers. How can we honestly expect teacher who have junior certificates and did not finish high school themselves, to go out and teach our children; the future of the country and society.

The onus and responsibility of this falls directly on the President and Department of Education. It is their responsibility to provide and ensure that qualified teachers are placed in our schools. Yes, we can expect that during the dark days of apartheid it was the will of the government to provide a less than basic education and have unqualified teachers teaching black children to ensure that Bantu education maintain the  status quo thereby ensuring a white supremacy and black inferiority. Not only is it the responsibly of government but also trade unions who need to stand up and acknowledge their part in the education system. Trade unions need to make sure that their members are qualified and encourage them to acquire the skills that are fundamental to ensure that they can do their jobs in an efficient and productive way.

It is high time that the country places more emphasis on the global and fundamentals rights of children and their access to a quality education. The one things that can empower and improve the lives of all South Africans is education. We cannot blame the low quality of education in the country on lack of resources or the Apartheid government any longer. We can place blame on the lack of will of our leaders and government. It is a tragedy and a disaster, given the amount of money assigned to education in the annual budget, that South Africa is ranked 133 out of 142 countries surveyed by the World Economic Forum. This is an unacceptable scenario 20 years into democracy where South Africans have gained their freedom and are no longer discriminated against because of their skin color.


Education research studies and reports

How many studies and reports need to be undertaken before our leaders face up to the reality that our education system is broken. The recent report by the Council on Higher Education highlighted that atrocious performances and results of university graduates in the country. The report reveals that less than 5% of all black and coloured students are capable of succeeding at university, and more than 50% of university students do not complete their degrees and graduate. The report outlines that the leading cause for the atrocious student performance at university level is primarily due to the inadequate academic performance at school. Furthermore, the report states that given the current schooling curriculum and systems, there is little hope that the South African schooling system will be adequately be able to prepare matriculants to levels required by higher education institutions in the near future.

Research done by National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (Needu) at the Department of Education has revealed some alarming and highly disturbing facts that there are students that are unable to even read a single word. Research results show that roughly 13% of pupils could read a single word from a simple test that was given to them. Dr Nick Taylor, the head of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit, has called on government to make reading a national priority.


How to fix a broken education system

In order to fix the education system and overcome all the challenges the county is facing when it does to education, all start with government taking responsibility and being held accountable for their actions. The Norms and Standards Act should be implemented and actions taken to apply the changes. However, the reality and fact is that government cannot fix the problem alone. Government needs to act first and take the initiative to build trust and faith in the government and Department of Eduction. The government and all members of parliament need to take the concerns brought forward by civil society seriously. In order to form partnerships with NGO’s and other stakeholders involved with education, the government needs to show that they can be trusted, be responsible and be held accountable for their actions.

The National Education Collaboration between parent bodies, NGOs, trade unions and community leaders is a huge step forward and in the right direction with the aim and objective of improving the quality of education. It is the right of each and every citizen of South Africa to have access to education and it is up to the government of the day to stand up and honor the rights of its citizens and uphold the constitution of the country.

All South Africans need to wake up, stand up and use their voting rights, and hold the government accountable for the right to a basic education for all citizens and learners.


Matric students lack the skills and competencies for university

A recent study has shown that high school matric results are generally a poor indicator of 1st year university performance. In order to improve upon the performance of university students would require that the Department of Basic Education equip high school students with the required skills and competencies as outlined in the department’s policy documents. Students entering university are ill-equipped and do not possess these basic skills and competencies to succeed at university.

Michèle Stears and Angela James from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s undertook the study to identify whether or not Grade 12 life science results were any indication of their competence at first-year in relation to their knowledge and skills levels. They concluded that poor performance amongst students was not a new phenomena amongst university students in South Africa.

The study did indicate that scholars competency level in certain sub jest was poor and lower than the required level as stated in Department of Basic Education policy documents.

According o the study the lack of competencies in certain areas and skills along with failure at a university is having a debilitating effect on students live and their levels of self confidence. Student complete high school and enter tertiary institutions with high hopes and expectations only to be confronted by the reality that they did not possess the skills or competencies to succeed at university.

In the study, Michèle Stears and Angela James recommended that in order to improve on students 1st year performance results would take a two pronged approach. Firstly, high school students should be  equipped by the schools with required skills and competencies prior to graduating. Secondly, higher education institutions should assist by creating an environment that enables high school students a far better and smoother transition into higher education.

The study did take into account the  degree of transformation that has been achieved since 1994 within the education system. Matric results are one indicator to display how the South African education system has transformed and improved since the demise of apartheid.

Students that completed high school in 2010 were the first set of students who completed school based on Curriculum 2005 (one of many changes to post-apartheid school curriculum reforms). There was enormous reservation and uncertainty about the skills and competencies of scholars under an outcomes-based education orientated system.

In order to arrive at their results and conclusions, the study compared results of 1st year life sciences students in 2011 and compared these to students who registered in 2009 and 2010. Stears and James said; “learners achieving 80% to 100% in their biology school-leaving examination had the skills to suggest specific changes to experimental design and provide conclusions showing awareness of data uncertainty, and could analyse problems and provide solutions as well as evaluate the relevance of biotechnological applications to life sciences.”

From the study, student showed evidence that they could also come to the conclusion and critically evaluate the application of scientific and indigenous knowledge locally in South Africa and globally. Students  could also develop justifiable and responsible positions on the influences of different beliefs, attitudes and values in various communities, as well as evaluate and give recommendations on the impact of scientific and technological processes and products on different communities.

For those students that achieved a 60% to 79% had the ability to  “analyse, reflect on and evaluate findings of an investigation and identify and allow for irregular observations when displaying data, debate and show how concepts, principles, laws, theories and models influenced one’s behaviour, analyse the application of scientific and indigenous knowledge in the South African context and debate the influence of beliefs, attitudes and values among communities.”

Results of students who enrolled for life sciences in 2008, only 36% were able to achieve a grade higher than 70% for biology in matric. In 2009 this same figure  rose to 43% while in 2010 it went up to 53%.

The study also showed that only 21% of student in the 2011 class could link biology to the environment. When these stunted were asked to observe the environment, only 18% were able to observe green plants, 61% were not able to observe the object biology, while 54% of the students could not make a link between what they were observing and the relevance of the course they and taken.

The study states that only 10% of the class of 2008 failed the biology module. This figure dropped to 5% in 2009, however increased to 12% for student of 2010 class. This gave more clout for those people and groups who have been arguing and stating that matric results in 2010 were manipulated by the Department of Basic Education.

Source: University World News


Focus is on provincial education HR management

The Council of Education Ministers affirms that there is an urgent need to scrutinize precisely how human resource management is carried out in provincial education departments to improve accountability among principals and schools.

During a special meeting organised last week, which was attended by Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, the council have agreed to the fact that there was an immediate need to scrutinize precisely how human resource management is carried out in provincial education departments to make certain that the curriculum is adequately covered to boost and improve the quality of education.

At the same time, it was agreed that the PERSAL system will be cleaned up to verify exactly who was employed by the Department of Basic Education, where these individuals are located and exactly what subjects they provide. This certainly will at the same time enhance initiatives to improve record keeping.

The council additionally affirmed its support of improved teacher accountability by way of teacher attendance, learner attendance, and class period control registers, in conjunction with continuous monitoring to be able to assist schools in the use of these accountability instruments.

Relating to the issue of human resources, the council concluded that provincial heads of department need to carry out an audit of learner and teacher numbers and finalise teacher profiles for departments in order to effectively make use of teachers within the system.

The council noted the Integrated School Health Programme, whose primary objective is health screening. The programme is going to be multi-departmental and rolled out in every school in order to do away with major health barriers to learning. The progressive implementation of the programme is going to be carried out in collaboration with the Department of Health, Social Development and National Treasury, the council mentioned.

Source: BuaNews


No Matric, No Problem!

Did you do matric in the past and never really got very good results? Did you maybe fail matric? Do you want to study further, but you think your matric certificate, or your matric fail is preventing you from further studies?

The Truth about Matric

Let me share with you some FACTS about Matric:

1.     Only 50% of students that start school ever gets to sit in a Matric class. Half of scholars leave school before they even get to the end of Matric.

2.     If you measure how many scholars passed Matric, by looking at how many should be in Matric, the failure rate for Matric is not 39.4%. The real failure rate is 79%

3.     Matric does not prepare you for any job. Employers employ people with real skills and real experience. If you have ever tried to get a job, you will know that very little of the interview is about Matric; and most of it is about your previous work experience.

4.     There are many courses you can study without first doing Matric.

So if you think you need Matric to be accepted for further studies… you are mistaken.

Some Background Figures

According to iol.co.za, “the Centre for Education Policy Development (CEPD) has shown that of the 1 550 790 pupils who entered the education system in 1998, only 551 940 made it to Grade 12 and wrote the final exam last year. This is a startling statistic that affects the official 60.6 percent pass rate’’.

“Of the 500 000 or so matrics who wrote the exam, 217 331 failed, representing a failure rate of 39.4 percent. But if the 998 850 pupils who got lost in the system during those 12 years were taken into account, the headline figures would change.”

The failure rate would double to 79 percent, the pass rate would shrink accordingly and the drop-out figure would stand at 64 percent, suggesting that it’s not six in 10 young people who are passing matric, as the Department of Basic Education’s figures show, but six in 10 young people who are getting no education at all!!! What does this say about our country’s school education system?”

FACT: nearly 8 out of 10 pupils that go to school either drop out, or, fail Matric.

So … Do you really need Grade 12?

If you want to go to a University and study for a Degree, you need to complete Grade 12. You need to pick the right subjects so that you can get a Matric with Exemption. And then you will also have to pass the University’s Entrance Exam.

If you want to study a College programme, short course or qualification, you must ask what the “entrance criteria” for that specific programme is. In some cases you need Grade 10, in some cases you need Grade 11 and in some cases you need Grade 12.

For some courses you need to have work experience, and for some you need to be over a certain age. And for some courses the requirement is that you have passed a course at NQF 3 (Grade 10) or 4 (Grade 12) level, but these do NOT have to be School Grades that you have passed!

This is all very confusing!

Yes it is! Please allow me to give you an easy way to figure out what to do next …..

Do you want to study for a Degree and go to a University?

YES – Complete your Grade 12 at school and make sure you have selected the correct subjects and that you comply with the University’s entrance criteria. Often they will require that your marks be at a certain level (for example: you must get an A for Maths). And most Universities will make you sit an entrance exam with the university, which you must pass before they will accept your applications.

NO – you have many, many options… keep reading!


Have you passed Grade 12?

YES – You can start most programmes that are at NQF 4 level. From this you can advance to NQF 5 level.

If you choose to do a programme that is not aligned to the NQF, you should still ask at what academic level the programme is. This will help you make sure that you will be able to master the academic content of the programme.

NO – keep reading. Next we shall show you some options open to people who do not have Grade 12.


Have you passed Grade 10 or 11?

YES – You can start any programme that is at NQF 3 level. From this you can advance to NQF 4 and sometimes NQF 5 level programmes. A programme at NQF level 4 is at the same academic level as Grade 12.If you choose to do a programme that is not aligned to the NQF, you should still ask at what academic level the programme is. This will help you make sure that you will be able to master the academic content of the programme. College SA has many courses that you can study if you have passed Grade 10 or Grade 11.

NO – keep reading. Next we shall show you some other options that might work for you.


Are you older than 23 years of age?

YES – Many training institutions will accept you on a course once you are older than 23. What you should check is that you will be able to handle the level of the language used in the course, and that you will be able to cope with the academic content of the course. If you feel unsure, it is always better to start with an NQF level 3 course and then work your way up from there.

NO – keep reading. Next we shall show you some options that might work for you.

Have you got work experience that is relevant to your studies?

YES – Most colleges will recognise your work experience. So if you have two or more years of work experience that is relevant to the area you want to study, then chances are that you will be accepted onto the programme based on your work experience.

What you should check is that you will be able to handle the level of the language used in the course, and that you will be able to cope with the academic content of the course. If you feel unsure, it is always better to start with an NQF level 3 course and then work your way up from there.

All courses have their own entrance criteria. And you will have to check the entrance criteria of any course you are interested in. For example, for some courses you need Grade 10, plus access to a Computer, and for other courses the only entrance criteria is that you must be older than 23 years of age, and able to understand the English used in the course material.

So you have many options, even if you don’t have matric?

Exactly! And to make it even easier, I shall now give you links to some of the courses at College SA, which you can do if:

  • you are older than 23, OR
  • if you have Grade 10, OR
  • if you have more than two year’s work experience

View College SA Profile and Courses