New curriculum in full effect
Vivian Warby13 February 2008
In 2008, for the first time, scholars across South Africa will be on the same national school curriculum, with the completion of the curriculum change that was introduced in 1998, says Education Minister Naledi Pandor.
With all learners from grade R through grade 12 now learning under the outcomes-based national curriculum statement, the "class of 2008" will be the first to be awarded the new National Senior Certificate, a qualification that significantly raises the bar from previous ones.
"This year students will sit for a new matric exam, with a reduced number of subject offerings, but with substantial cognitive demands," Pandor told journalists at a briefing in Cape Town on Tuesday. "All exams will now be set at a national level, and the results will give us a good measure of the effectiveness of the new curriculum."
For example, either mathematics or maths literacy is now a compulsory subject, as is life orientation, with Pandor stating the effect on the matric pass rates of these compulsory subjects was yet to be seen, and that schools needed to implement ways to aid students.
The "Second Chance" programme for students who failed matric in 2007 - the last class of the old curriculum - has so far had a promising start, with over 100 000 students registering for the supplementary exam in May and June this year.
Pandor said that provincial education departments would be responsible for ensuring that these students were provided with extra-tuition at various venues, which the national department would support through the electronic and print media.
Pandor added that the number of Dinaledi schools, which offer mathematics and science at higher grade level and have qualified teachers involved in the project, had been increased to over 500, and that these schools had all been targeted for extra support.
"We hope to see 50 000 maths passes from these schools at the end of this year," she said.
The Dinaledi schools initiative was launched in 2001 to address the urgent need to equip learners with mathematics and science skills, after the government identified it as essential to contributing to the country's economic growth.
The project aims to increase access to mathematics, science and technology and to promote and improve results for these subjects in underprivileged communities.
An additional 800 maths and science teachers were recruited and have been appointed to these schools, and additional textbooks and other resources have been provided.
"The private sector has been hugely supportive of these schools, and numerous donations and incentives have been provided," Pandor said.
National qualifications framework
She added that the National Qualifications Framework Bill, together with consequential amendments to the Higher Education and General and Further Education Acts, would be gazetted for comment this week.
The Skills Development Amendment Bill 2008 was also well advanced and would shortly be tabled by the Department of Labour for engagement with the social partners at National Economic Development and Labour Council.
Pandor pointed out that the National Qualifications Framework would now consist of three distinct but closely inter-related qualification sub-frameworks under the South African Qualifications Authority.
"These are the Higher Education Qualification Framework, the General and Further Education Qualifications Framework and the Trades and Occupations Qualifications Framework," she said. "This underscores the belief that we learn throughout our life, and that this needs a structured framework to support and assist learners wherever they are."