Major Developments in the Education Sector

 Angelina Matsie Motshekga

By Angelina Matsie Motshekga

We have strengthened the National Curriculum Statement through the development of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS). During the strengthening of CAPS content was specified, sequenced and paced per grade. This has provided teachers with the confidence to teach and assess learners.

Support has been provided to subject advisors through the CAPS’ orientation process. To date 8268 Grade 10-12 subject advisors and 1600 subject advisors responsible for Foundation Phase, Intermediate Phase and Senior Phase have been trained respectively. Provinces have trained teachers in CAPS and are continuing to support its implementation. The CAPS is incrementally implemented and the implementation schedule is as follows: Foundation Phase and Grade 10 were in 2012; Intermediate Phase and Grade 11 in 2013 and Senior Phase and Grade 12 in 2014.

The process has been smooth and it has received overwhelming support from educators. We have now firmly put behind Outcome Based Education (OBE) safely and permanently.

The country has passed the stage of counting numbers within the Early Childhood Development (ECD). The Council of Education Ministers has adopted a new curriculum for ECD. It is a seamless curriculum in line with the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP).

Section 6(4) of the South African Schools Act 34 of 1996 recognizes SA sign language for use in teaching and learning of Deaf Learners in public schools. In 2012 there were 8 835 deaf learners in 116 in public schools (special and ordinary). The majority of learners are taking South African Sign Language and are also taught through the medium of SASL. There are however different pockets of SASL curricula across different provinces with different dialects and thus lacking in standardization.

A further complication is the fact that albeit SASL is being recognized by SASA 1996 as a language for teaching and learning of the Deaf, the government has not accorded SASL an official status like it has with the other 11 official languages. The December 2012 call by the President to have SASL eventually declared an official language offers a glimmer of hope for the deaf community and for offering the SASL curriculum for grades R-12 at Home Language level.

It is within this context that I, as Minister, subsequently established a curriculum management team that will coordinate the development of the above mentioned curriculum. Among the terms of reference is to come up with a clear definition of sign language and to determine which of the following sections such oral, grammar and literature are applicable to sign language.

I am also happy to announce that I met with 2 important Ministerial Task Teams this morning – the Task Team in South African Sign Language, and a Task Team responsible for Technical Schools’ curriculum. I have committed to discuss with Education MEC that the Sign Language curriculum be offered as a Home Language from 2014. More details will be revealed after CEM next month.

The Technical High school sector is under severe pressure to attract learners. The enrolment figures in 2007 were at 119 000 and in 2013 it now stands at 45 000. This is mainly due to curriculum related matters. It was within this context that a Ministerial Task Team was set up to look at the challenges facing technical schools.

I am also pleased to announce the receipt of the draft CAPS for Technical Schools as prepared by the Ministerial Task Team. These CAPS will allow for specialization in each of the following subjects: Civil Technology, Electrical Technology and Mechanical Technology. These subjects will be supported by Technical Mathematics, Technical Science and the current Engineering Graphics and Design.

The introduction of the subjects will be preceded by the following:

  1. An audit of available resources i.e. Infrastructure, equipment and educator competence

  2. Development of LTSM

  3. Continuous Professional Development of educators to ensure competent teaching and skills development

  4. Financial implications for implementation and sustainability

  5. Collaboration with business and industry professional bodies, Higher Education Institution sector, organized labour and statutory bodies.

These will be supported by a rigorous advocacy process to promote Technical Schools as institutions of choice for learners. The present reality in South Africa is that the majority of learners at both school and tertiary level use English as the Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT).


Hand-in-hand with the increase in the use of African languages is the strategy to strengthen the teaching of English as a First Additional Language. Research is clear: discipline-based instruction in reading and writing enhances learner achievement in all subjects.

Without strategies for reading subject matter and opportunities for writing thoughtfully about it, learners have difficulty in mastering concepts. The PIRLS 2011, South Africa’s Annual National Assessments and the National Senior Certificate results all speak to the negative impact of poor English competence on learner performance and the need to improve the quality of English teaching and learning. As a result, from 2012, all children intending to learn through the medium of English began instruction in this language from Grade 1 level.

The Department of Basic Education is also addressing the quality of English teaching. In partnership with the British Council, it has developed a training programme, the Certificate in Primary English Language Teaching (CiPELT), to support the implementation of EFAL.

Earlier this year the Department received a report on the incremental introduction of African Languages in school. The report recommended that as from 2014 all public schools should introduce African languages from Grade R to Grade 1. However, CEM resolved to broadly support the proposal that Provincial Education Departments would largely consider, for piloting the initiative in 2014, an option that provided for ten schools per district.

CEM gave the go ahead for the publication of National Policy on the Conduct, Administration and Management of the Annual National Assessment. This policy proposal will provide clarity on the administration of ANA especially the setting of the tests, administration of tests, marking, and resulting and how feedback is provided to schools. In two weeks’ time it will be gazetted for public comment and we will then consolidate the responses.

It is all systems go for this year’s ANA which starts on 20 September and it will assess more than 7.2 million learners from Grade 1 to Grade 9.

The CEM received a report on the state of readiness for the 2014 school year. The CEM resolved that there’s a compelling case around the educational and economic viability of small schools, the implications for their continued existence and the need for the school rationalization process as this should form part of the plans for 2014 school readiness.

It was agreed that the Department of Basic Education would continue to closely monitor the nature of support required by Provincial Education Departments (PEDs); it was however resolved that PEDs should submit their school furniture needs to the DBE by 16 August 2013;

As part of addressing the shortage of teachers, the meeting further resolved that the timeline for the placement of Funza Lushaka graduates should be moved forward from December to November of each year. Provincial Education Departments which failed to place graduates allocated to them within this timeline should relinquish such graduates to other provinces that really need them.

CEM has noted the impressive turnaround of the preparation for the examination processes in Mpumalanga taking account the challenges faced by the province a few years ago. The examination processes in Mpumalanga should indeed be celebrated as the best model and included in the Council media statement.

The proposed 2015 school calendar was published for public comment in Government Gazette notice number 36386 of 19 April 2013. The Department received 9 comments on the proposed 2015 school calendar. There was a proposal that the 2015 school calendar should be a single calendar just like the 2014 school calendar. Four comments accepted the proposed School Calendar while one comment was not related to the proposed calendar. The comment proposing a single calendar was not accepted because the proposed 2015 School Calendar does not have the challenges that the 2014 calendar had. Council approved the Proposed 2015 School Calendar that allows inland provinces and coastal provinces to have separate dates for reopening of the 2015 school year.

On the matter of the Director General, the process of appointing the retired Judge is underway. Once the State law office has completed the processing the Judge will start with the work. I have taken note of the comments by the Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. I appreciate her understanding of the challenges facing education. Her continued effort in clarifying education matters are appreciated and demonstrates the highest level of inter-government relations.

Angelina Matsie Motshekga is the Minister of Basic Education

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