Newspaper clipping  - iol online – 5 June 2009

Back to basics for SA schools

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Friday vowed to cut the “frills” out of outcomes based education (OBE) and get back to teaching the basics in public schools.
“We must go back to basics….we have to make sure that our learners can read, write and count as a bottom line,” she said during debate in the National Assembly on Wednesday’s state of the nation address.

Motshekga was responding to concerns raised by MPs about the public school curriculum.
“You can transport learners to school, you can keep them in safe structures, you can feed them and protect them, but if there are still outstanding matters around the curriculum, then I think we are wasting our time and our resources. Our curriculum needs to be streamlined even further, and all the other frills, which can distract teachers from their core business of teaching and learning, must be removed, “ she told members.

In his address on Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma named education as one of his new government’s key priorities, and promised a “revival” of the system.

On Friday, Motshekga suggested a more pragmatic approach to OBE is on the way.
“The noble principles of outcomes based education cannot be wished away; they still remain great and noble. Our children, indeed, as future citizens, need to be equipped with skills that enable them to be well-rounded adults, who can solve problems, think laterally, who can work as teams. But the bottom line is they have to be able to read and write in that context. And that we are committed to.”

Motshekga said she had met many school principals and education officials, and “all of them, without fail, were raising issues about the curriculum.”

A committee had been set up, and “come 2010 we”ll be working on a streamlined curriculum that will make sure that we have clear outcomes without any frills”, she said.

Further she had issued instructions that school pupils, on completing grades three, six and nine, be tested “to assess outcomes on an ongoing basis”. Motshekga said these initiatives had one goal: to improve the quality of learning. - Sapa