Newspaper clipping – The Cape Argus – 20 July 2010

Mixed feelings as OBE is set to bite dust

Curriculum changes announced by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga are to be phased in over the next few years. While the minister did not mention the words Outcomes Based Education (OBE) in her statement, many say OBE is dead.

Here the Cape Argus speaks to people from across the education spectrum about their OBE experiences.

THE TEACHER

Xoliswa Qalazive, of Solomon Qatyana Primary in Strand, said a lot of planning and paperwork was required. She has been teaching four subjects to Grade 5 pupils and also teaches English to Grade 4 pupils.

Qalazive said that in English, for example, pupils had to do four projects a term.
“I have 50 children in the Grade 5 class. I spend a lot of time going through all their projects and assessing each pupil individually. Sometimes the days are not long enough for me to do my work.”

She said that in overcrowded classes teachers could not focus on struggling pupils. Qalazive said she would wait and see whether the changes would benefit teachers.
“Sometimes something sounds good, but when you try to implement it, it is not good.”

She said the department would also have to ensure that teachers were properly trained.
“Teachers need to be appreciated,” she added.

THE PUPIL

Tarryn de Kock, a matriculant at South Peninsula High School, said while pupils had to complete many projects, the continuous assessment mark represented only 25 percent of the year mark.
“Nobody has the time to do all the projects. Sometimes parents would do the work on behalf of the children.”

She said she had enjoyed the fact that OBE allowed for discussion in class and felt school had prepared her well for university.

THE PARENT (and teacher)

Zelda Andrews, a parent and teacher from Atlantis who has two children at high school, said her children coped well with OBE.
“The availability of resources at home enabled them over the years to engage with research. It also enhanced their creativity and critical thinking within the learning process.”

Andrews, who teaches at Protea Park Primary in Atlantis, said teachers needed training as soon as possible to ensure they started 2011 fully prepared.
 “The clearly defined learning content envisaged for 2011 onwards, as well as one document provided for educators, will assist us with goal-directed and meaningful planning,” she said.

THE UNIVERSITY

Dr Susan van Schalkwyk, deputy director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Stellenbosch University, said while the average mark of Grade 12 pupils who had enrolled as first years in 2009 and 2010 declined, mostly because higher grade bonus points were no longer available, the average percentage achieved by the 2009 first years, at the end of the first year, showed no significant changes compared to previous years. (The class of 2008 were the first to write matric under the new curriculum.)

The retention rate (the number of students who went on to register for second year) also remained stable. She said this could be attributed to the fact that in 2006 Stellenbosch University conducted an investigation looking into how the old curriculum differed from the new one, and the effect of the changes in first-year curriculums. Lecturers were proactive in making adjustments, where necessary, she said.

The university also started a First Year Academy in 2007 to support the “new” group of students.
“Anecdotal feedback from lecturers indicates a lack of necessary knowledge of key concepts. Maths still seemed to be a problem, but students were more used to using the internet to obtain information,” she said.

Van Schalkwyk said some lecturers had indicated that many students were better prepared for visual interpretations, for example, through graphics. In chemistry, there were serious gaps.

She said first year students, as in the past, saw their biggest challenge as the volume of work and the pace at which they had to work.

CHANGES

Changes that took effect in January include:

  • The Common Tasks for Assessment for Grade 9 were discontinued.
  • The number of projects pupils have to complete were reduced.
  • The use of portfolios for pupil assessment were discontinued.
  • Teachers have to keep only one file for administrative purposes.

Changes scheduled to take effect in 2011:

  • All learning areas and programmes will be called subjects.
  • The language chosen by the pupil as the language of learning and teaching will be taught as a subject from Grade 1, not Grade 2 as is currently the case.
  • Workbooks for all pupils in Grades 1 to 6 will be distributed next year.
  • The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (Caps) for the foundation phase (Grades R to 3) will be implemented. The Caps will provide details on what teachers ought to teach, and assess on a grade-by-grade and subject-by-subject basis.

Changes scheduled to take effect in 2012:

  • The number of subjects in Grades 4 to 6 will be reduced from eight to six.
  • The Caps will be phased into Grades 4 to 12.

By Ilse Fredericks

Education Writer