Performance agreements of education officials must be linked to the successful meeting of academic targets in schools. So said Education MEC Cameron Dugmore in his keynote address to a workshop on Assessment Standards in schools, convened by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) today and tomorrow in Paarl.
The workshop is attended by about 250 teachers, principals, union representatives, tertiary institutions, curriculum experts and senior education officials, to deliberate on protocols for assessment standards and qualifications in the new Further Education and Training (FET) curriculum and in the General Education and Training (GET) band in schools.
...40% of learners who have been allowed to enter Grade 12 simply did not make it at the end of the year.
Other key speakers include Deputy Director-General for FET in the National Department of Education Penny Vinjevold, as well as Jenny Rault-Smith, Director of Curriculum Development of the WCED.
Addressing delegates, MEC Dugmore said he could not understand how 40% of learners who have been allowed to enter Grade 12 simply did not make it at the end of the year.
"I think we have to ask ourselves what is happening in those schools in the Grade 8 - 11 classrooms as well. Do the teachers know how to teach properly? Do they know how to assess? Do their learners know how to study? We need to know what learning is taking place. We need to know if those who enter Grade 12 in the first place have really met the requirements at a Grade 11 level.
"A macro target for the province this year is to have not a single school recording a matric pass rate of under 60%. This is a very specific challenge today to the people in this meeting as I know you are, in fact, the critical roleplayers in this province. Let's get it right! For the sake of our children."
A macro target for the province this year is to have not a single school recording a matric pass rate of under 60%.
MEC Dugmore said parents need to know that the days where the parent only knows that a child is in trouble when the final report with the "F" on it drops into the letterbox, is a thing of the past.
"Our parents need to know that assessment is ongoing. It's not just tests any more, or exams. It is assessment with a purpose; it's assessment so that better learning and better teaching can happen. It's not assessment just to get marks; it's not assessment for a competition between learners; rather it is a checking and reporting mechanism.
"We don't punish or threaten children mindlessly. We help with discipline, yes, but we don't shatter and destroy. Nurture and challenge - but don't destroy."
MEC Dugmore revealed that the WCED is in the process of establishing an Assessments Directorate through the re-design process, which will be dedicated to assessment matters.
With regards to classroom-based support, MEC Dugmore said: "I must be honest here and lay a bold and direct challenge to unions. I know that classroom visitation is a sensitive matter and the subject of negotiation. But let me say plainly here that officials simply must be allowed, as a matter of course, into actual classrooms.
...lay a bold and direct challenge to unions ... officials simply must be allowed, as a matter of course, into actual classrooms.
"If we have teachers who are struggling, then we need to know what the problems are so we can help remedy them. I have received isolated reports of some cases where officials have been denied access.
"The matter was raised at a meeting of the Council of Education Ministers and the national Minister indicated that she found it hard to even accept that this was an issue - because the employer has a duty to ensure that our children are being properly taught.
"I don't for a moment want to suggest a compromise to the integrity of the shop floor role of unions. However I must repeat my plea made elsewhere for a constructive partnering model so that we can fight together against things that erode quality education and can fight together for the rights of our children.
"Through the evaluation processes starting up through our Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) I believe that we are developing more reflective teachers. We must, and we will, open our doors to officials to render practical support and training - with due sensitivity - where it is needed most."
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