Unions support DEB's plan to cover content lost during lockdown next year
Unions have thrown their weight behind the Department of Basic Education’s plan intended to defer teaching of some of the content yet to be covered in classrooms to the next grade.
This is the so-called curriculum trimming and reorganisation plan, which is central to the department's drive to recover the teaching and learning time lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Matric and Grade 7 pupils were due to return to school next week Monday and other grades will return later.
Mathanzima Mweli, the department’s director-general, has sent a circular to provincial and district education officials and schools detailing the curriculum trimming and reorganisation plan.
The plan, intended for Grades 4 to 11, entailed covering of the core content just enough to “allow learners to cope with the next grade”.
“The key aim of the school recovery plan is to ensure that the critical skills, knowledge, values and attitudes outlined in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (Caps) and those that are relevant to the learner’s current grade are covered over a reduced time period,” said Mweli.
“In all grades the June examination has been cancelled to allow for more teaching time and schools will administer a final controlled examination only in key subjects in grades 4 to 11, to ensure that learners are assessed to identify their learning gaps which will be remediated in the subsequent grade.
“In the case of Grade 12, the curriculum has not been trimmed, but may have been reorganised to allow for more efficient and effective utilisation of the time available,” said Mweli.
Mweli added that the plan aimed, among other things, to remove repetitive content, reduce the curriculum “so that schools create ample space for meaningful learning” and align teaching and tests to the available teaching time.
Ironically, unions had complained over the years that Caps was overloaded and overburdened teachers and pupils.
Unions lambasted Caps, introduced as a new curriculum in 2011, on grounds that it demanded more assessments and less teaching time.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced a review of Caps in September 2018. She said the review was intended to afford teachers more teaching time.
Union leaders told The Star on Wednesday that they supported the curriculum trimming plan.
“The SA Democratic Teachers Union supports the reconfiguration of the curriculum,” said the union’s general secretary Mugwena Maluleke.
“The National Teachers’ Union welcomed the deferment of some lessons, “especially the concepts that will be introduced this year and be dealt with again next year”, said union president Allan Thompson.
“Some concepts don’t have to be introduced this year because they’ll be dealt with in the next grade.
“If you forfeit them this year, you’ll have a chance to learn them next year,” Thompson added.
“We support the trimming. In fact, the proper term is ‘rearrangement’ of the curriculum.”
Mweli emphasised that the plan was meant just for this year.
“The trimming and re-organisation of the curriculum are designed to accommodate the impact of Covid-19 and is, therefore, an interim deviation from the original curriculum,” he said.
“These interim changes are only to be implemented in 2020 and schools must revert to the original curriculum in 2021.”