31 January 2012

Looking back on education promises made in 2011

Following the state of the nation address 2011, President Jacob Zuma, stated:

"We will continue investing in teacher training, especially in mathematics and science."
"We will pay special attention to the training of principals, particularly those in underperforming schools."
"...we began the annual national assessments in literacy and numeracy that are internationally benchmarked for grades 3, 6 and 9."

In a bid to get a clearer picture from the documents which informed his statements, SAHA submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act request to the National Department of Basic Education. The request for information included; the annual national assessments in literacy and numeracy, records relating to investment in teacher training, and identification and plans for under performing schools.

In material released under the PAIA, the department acknowledge the problems faced include;
• the high number of underperforming schools,
• the identification of the affected geographical areas,
• the identification of priority educational areas including maths, science,
• the identification of 142 priority schools.

The material also includes systems that have been put in place to remedy the problems such as the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS), an intervention tool aimed at assessing school principals, teachers, and schools. The system aims to identify gaps on the ground and flag them.

The documents show that even this monitoring and evaluation system faces major downfalls which include- the lack implementation plans, failure by schools to uptake recommendations and poor administration management.

Furthermore, the documents illustrate the failure by provinces to properly utilise allocated budgets. This is indicative by the small number of teachers and principals (9.92%) who take-up the offer to go through further education and training interventions.

Unfortunetely no documents relating to national assessments in literacy and numeracy were released to SAHA. It must be noted that not all materials requested were released to SAHA.

Materials released can be found at SAHA's archives :

AL2878 The Freedom of Information Collection (A12.05)