New education plan for 2017

Published Mar 1, 2016


Durban - The ‘suit and tie’ approach to life was not the only way for young people to make an honest living, Basic Education Director-General Mathanzima Mweli said on Monday.

He was speaking at a National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA breakfast in Durban, where he told school management teams of the government’s plans to roll out three-stream education.

The three-tier education plan by the department would involve academics-driven schools, technical vocational schools and technical occupational schools – all with dedicated functions to meet students’ intellectual needs.

Pilot programmes at select schools are to start next year before it is rolled out.

“We have never looked at hairdressing and panel beating as a career. We want to turn these skills so that people can use them to make a living, just like in countries like Botswana, where we have seen the smallmedium enterprises boost the economy,” he said.

On the long mooted Grade 9 exit plan, he said all pupils would be issued with General Education and Training (GET) certificates at the end of Grade 9 – but said this was not intended at kicking pupils out of the system.

“Some people are of the view that if we issue certificates at Grade 9 level we might encourage them to not continue, but I have certificates from Grade 7, 10 and 12, and I have four degrees, if you look at the Scandinavian countries and Zimbabwe, they are implementing it quite well. So are Angola, Mauritius and Madagascar,” he said.

“Some leave the system and join unemployment with no paper to indicate their skills and competencies, particularly children with special education needs. Retention in the system of 14-18-year-olds with special needs has had a huge drop, from 70% to 54%,” said Mweli.

Responding to a teacher who had commented that university and a degree was being over-emphasised, jeopardising other educational streams, Mweli said: “We’ve been pushing universities to say tie and suit is best, which is not really true. A successful artisan can earn more than a doctor per month”.

The new plan would be presented before Parliament and the School Governing Body Association. Teacher unions were part of the development of the plan.

Naptosa KZN chief executive, Anthony Pierce, said the new approach would require a “major paradigm shift” for teachers.

“Educators will have to be retrained to ensure that they are able to meet these new demands. The province will have to begin an advocacy programme in earnest. Today is the first public announcement of the venture that is no longer than 10 months away,” he said.

Pierce said it was a “mammoth task” and warned that if it was not implemented right, it could be detrimental for the future of the country.

“Primary school teachers will have to be brought on board to ensure pupils begin identifying their strengths and weaknesses at primary phase, to ensure that they do not pursue a stream above their intellectual capacity,” he said.

The technical occupational stream schools would start from Grade 6 to 9, where pupils would take 5 subjects – a home language, additional language, functional maths and life skills.

The pupils would then choose one subject of their choice from a selection of 26 – from areas such as agriculture, arts and craft, office administration, hairdressing and beauty care, plumbing, bricklaying and upholstery.

The technical vocational stream would incorporate engineering design, civil technology, mechanical technology, technical maths and technical science.

It is aimed at helping government reach its National Development Target of producing 10 000 artisans a year and 30 000 artisans a year by 2030.

Mweli said the academic stream would be for pupils who had shown they could handle the pressure. He said in all three streams pupils could still progress to matric. He explained that the technical and vocational stream was aimed to create artisans, but if pupils wanted to go to university, they would have to do pure maths and pure science.

He stressed that the choice of whether a pupil chose the academic, vocational or occupational route would be determined by their ability and results.

“The choice must be determined by the ability and results of the child… Many people did things their parents wanted them to do; some have done medicine, but don’t want to practice.

“The reality is not everybody will get to Grade 12, it’s a fact of life. It is this preoccupation of a few people that every child must go to Grade 12, that’s why we have a 15.3% dropout rate in the system,” he said.

The National Income Dynamic Study showed that pupils were leaving school between Grades 9 to 11. There were 6.6% dropouts in Grade 9, 9% in Grade 10 and 15.3% in Grade 11.

Mweli said the dropouts were worryingly high compared to the global rate at 1%, and the SADC region rate at 6%.

“That’s why we have 3.5 million young people not in employment and not in training (NEET); they break into our houses because they were frustrated and forced to do things they can’t do (in school),” he said.

“We are going to really change the paradigm; we don’t want people to think academics is the only way to survive. Of course, we still need people to do academics, we are not getting rid of it; we are creating a balance for skills production in the country.”

The SETAs would be roped in to ensure pupils were provided with employment and exposure.

Basic Education Director General Mathanzima Mweli has come out in support of teachers to be trained in their mother tongue, for pupils to reap maximum benefits.

He said it was not by accident teachers trained in Afrikaans and taught in the language were able to produce results. He said they were working with the Department of Higher Education to address the language challenge teaching students were facing.

“African languages are being trained in English at the universities; our teachers are expected to learn in English and then go back and translate what they have learnt in Sepedi, TshiVenda, isiZulu, and isiXhosa.

Historically and currently, universities are only training in English and Afrikaans. In the foundation phase, teaching was in mother tongue. “Now only for English and Afrikaans do you get people who are properly trained. If your home language is Afrikaans, you go to universities like Stellenbosch, Potchefstroom (North West University) and University of Pretoria. They get trained to learn in Afrikaans,” said Mweli on Monday.

He said teachers battled because they were not competent in English or their mother tongue. Knowledge and skills were not married to any one language, and African languages needed to be embraced.

By numbers

* 23 445 – pupils in mechanical, electrical and civil technology

* 36 KZN technical maths subject advisers trained (228 nationally)

* 23 KZN technical science subject advisers trained (203 nationally)

* 83 KZN technical maths teachers trained (636 nationally)

* 141 KZN technical science teachers trained (638 nationally)

* 15.3% Grade 11 drop-outs in education

[email protected]

Daily News

Related Topics: