(This article was originally published in the Pretoria News)
The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, recently announced the great strides the Department of Basic Education has made on the finalisation of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements, which is likely to provide the leadership for teachers to educate our children.
While this is welcomed, there is the hope that this will help to address recurring issues in South Africa’s current public education system. It is hoped that these guidelines will also give young South Africans the edge to reach new heights so that current results, such as the 30 percent matric pass mark, are no longer the common standard.
It is clear that the responsibility of developing a young, educated nation is a joint responsibility of government, teachers and parents.
In my view, the following things also need to be done:
- Parents must be pro-active in holding schoolteachers, administrators and local, provincial and national government accountable for progress. They must be informed of tangible promises and per form reviews of the infrastructure roll-out progress and hours of teaching, among others.
- Parents should get involved in their children’s education. We must know what is happening and instil discipline in our children in and out of school. Neither teachers nor government can drive this alone. Holistic education requires us to continue our education everywhere.
- Teachers from disadvantaged schools need to prioritise pupils. If communities allow their own community teachers to dictate that they will only teach when their salaries are higher, it is the community’s task to help keep those teachers in class.
- In order to produce a steady educated population, skilled alumni should be encouraged to mentor pupils by providing voluntary tutelage in areas such as planning, administration, fund raising and reporting – or with skills that can assist them when they enter the workforce.
- South Africa must adopt a more visionary goal for its educational future if it wants to retain its position as a dominant economy in Africa – and remain in the G20 and Brics. Our focus on providing basic education to the majority of South Africans can never sustain that vision.
- Mathematics, science and technology must be prioritised as critical scarce skills. If we intend to be a dominant emerging economy, we ought to make mathematics, technology and science compulsory subjects from primary school level. We need to groom thinkers and innovators, not just the working class.
- The 30 percent pass mark must be scrapped. As long as children are made to believe that they can get to the next level with 30 percent, they will underperform. If you tell them they will achieve greater recognition among their peers and teachers if they strive for 60 percent, they will try their best to get 60 percent. We need to condition our young generation to aim for higher success. When I did accounting 1 at university; we were told that only 55 per cent would progress us to accounting 2, though 50 percent would still be a pass.
What are your thoughts? What should we be doing to improve the education system in South Africa? We welcome your feedback and comments.