Building A Bright Future

Building A Bright Future

Curriculum 2005

Questions and Answers for learners, educators, parents and governing bodies

Department of Education

Republic of South Africa

 

This booklet is for parents, educators, and all interested members of our society. It has been developed to provide answers to the questions being asked about Transformational Outcomes‑Based Education (OBE), which the Ministry of Education is committed to.

 

It is hoped that the answers provided will contribute towards greater understanding, and address the fears the public may have concerning the shift towards OBE. This effort to provide information will be supported by further documents and booklets, as well as by a helpline (088 121512) that will be in place until the end of February 1998. The national Department of Education hopes that the aforegoing will assist it in responding to the needs of the broader community.

 

It is furthermore hoped that ongoing dialogue will be ensured and increased so as to enhance the possibility of a strong, supportive partnership among diverse communities in order to improve the culture of learning, teaching and service.

 

I recommend this publication to you and invite individuals, professional groups, school staff, governing bodies and parent groups to explore and discuss the ideas and issues it presents. The learners in our schools and our society as a whole can only benefit if we can succeed together in becoming a lifelong learning society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr INIC Mangany!

Director‑General

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


"You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity about life, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.

CP Bedford.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

Introduction

A brief reminder about the outgoing, (traditional) system

 

A brief summary of the new system, Curriculum 2005

Why Transformational OBE?

Transformational OBE and the learner

Transformational OBE and the educator

Transformational OBE and the School

 

Transformational OBE, the parent and the community

Transformational OBE and School governing bodies

 


INTRODUCTION

 

South Africa's education system is in the process

of change; sweeping and widespread change, involving not only the essential remodelling of an outdated system, but a shift, a paradigm shift, in the attitude we adopt to the entire educational process.

The changes are aimed at making more South Africans, and more South African products and services, more competitive in an increasingly competitive world.

The changes are aimed at producing more qualified South Africans, more consistently, more predictably, by equipping them for the real world. The changes are aimed at elevating the real skills and learning levels of the South African learner, by promoting a thirst for knowledge, a love of learning and a determination to succeed, so multiplying the number of South Africans who achieve marketable skills.

The changes are focused on the adoption of a new educational approach entitled Curriculum 2005, which revolves around the concept of Transformational Outcomes‑Based Education, or OBE. And the product of this approach will be recognised and certified by the new National Qualifications Framework.

The overall objective is a culture of lifelong learning.

Yet although we live in a world characterised by change, a world in which change is the norm, we would not ourselves be acting normally if we did not harbour some doubts and apprehensions when confronted by such radical alterations to the way we think, act, and live our daily lives.

Highly qualified South Africans and eminent international authorities have made distinctive contributions to the evolution of the new system, and all are confident that the new approach will have the outcome that the nation demands of it.

They are also confident that once the system is in operation, that whatever misgivings might exist will swiftly be laid to rest.

Nonetheless, since the new system is not yet fully in place, the designers of the system are anxious to address whatever anxieties might exist, either by way of prior prejudice, or inadequate information. Remember that we live in a country where disinformation has played a disgraceful role, and with this in mind we urge you to view the new curriculum with a clear and open mind.

This booklet has been compiled to highlight the questions most commonly directed at the designers and creators of the new system. It does not purport to be all‑encompassing, since the system is itself flexible and open to constant adjustment.

The compilers of the booklet hope that once its information has been absorbed that it will lead to a more widespread adoption of the optimism and enthusiasm which they themselves share about the new system.

 

What we have here is a new educational motor car with outstanding performance and design characteristics. What we need are educators with the skills to drive it to victory.

 

 

 

 

 

A BRIEF REMINDER ABOUT THE OUTGOING, (TRADITIONAL) SYSTEM

 

The old South African system has not served the country well and is out of step with world trends. It catered to passive learners, was driven by examinations, often entailed learning in parrot‑fashion, and was characterised by a syllabus which encouraged minimal crossfertilisation in that it was content‑based and broken down into convenient compartments or subjects. It rigidly adhered to textbooks and worksheets and was thus completely centred on the teacher, with the result that the learner saw the syllabus as rigid and non‑negotiable. Teachers alone were responsible for motivating the learning process, for encouraging a love of learning, which in turn placed great stress on the personality of the teachers and what they hoped to achieve. All this was placed against a backdrop of inflexible time frames, and the public at large were not encouraged to comment or contribute to the process of curriculum development.

The elements critical to a successful, modern education system: equity, access, redress, and quality‑assurance were completely absent from the agenda.

Add to this the fact that the system was designed to cater for the perceived needs of an obedient minority and that it was largely denied to the majority of South Africa's learners, and we begin to understand how urgently the system was in need of review ‑ in every respect.

 


A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE NEW SYSTEM, CURRICULLUM 2005

 

Those whose learning takes place under the umbrella of Curriculum Those will be encouraged to become active learners, not only at school, but throughout their lives. Indeed, the benchmark is the promotion of lifelong learning, and the love of it. Assessments will take place on an ongoing basis, and credits awarded in terms of the criteria of the National Qualifications Framework. Critical thinking will be encouraged at all times, in terms of reasoning, consideration and reflection, and action. The new system recognises that teaching is not an end in itself ‑ that the purpose of teaching is to instruct and inform a group or individuals in such a way that at the conclusion of the course, the learner has a thorough understanding of the fundamental elements of the learning programme, and the way that learning impacts on related issues. In this context the learner is at the centre of things, and the teacher is the facilitator, constantly using group work and teamwork to draw the most out of this new approach and to consolidate it. The learning programmes are seen as guides, educators are encouraged to be innovative and creative in designing effective courses for the learners entrusted to their care. The learners are responsible for their own learning and progress, constantly motivated by feedback and positive comment concerning the worth of their efforts. Since assessment is continuous, time‑frames are flexible and learners learn at their own pace. And comment, constructive criticism, and assistance from the wider community is actively encouraged.

 

For example, a mother who has skills in indigenous arts would be very welcome to share her knowledge with all the learners at her children's school. The same thing goes for people who know how to play chess, now to get more from computers; fathers who are lawyers, businessmen and doctors. It is time to stop talking about schools being under‑resourced, and to look to community resources to play their part in heightening the learner's understanding of the real world. This is just one of the ways we can achieve our objective of "education of the head, heart and hand".

Above all, the system is designed to encourage and promote a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning. Variations of this system are in place in a number of enlightened countries and societies, and without exception they have led to a dramatic improvement, not only in the standard and depth of learning, but in the entire climate in which the process takes place.

 


The development and implementation of the Outcomes‑based approach is determined by the nature and significance of the outcomes we set as our goals. In South Africa, following a lengthy consultative process, there is now broad consensus. We expect the overall outcome will be that the learner learns things that matter in the context of building a meaningful and productive life in contemporary society, and that the values that are instilled in the education process continue to hold sway throughout the life of that individual.

 

As described previously, the outcome is defined and understood by 'Aall participants before the process begins. The primary focus is on achievements which equip the learner for a useful, fulfilling and contributory role in life. It encourages both initiative and collaboration and greatly expands all opportunities for successful outcomes, both in terms of educating and learning. Transformational OBE involves the integration of concepts in a cross‑curricula approach which embraces not only the structure of the curriculum, but also the methods by which instruction is delivered and meaningful assessments made. One of its most significant attributes is the promotion of cooperative learning which is the key to learning success.

Progress is demonstrated through integrated tasks and the application of skills to real world problems, and is monitored through multi‑dimensional methods of assessment. Importantly, although specific outcomes are known in advance, this does not mean that instructional programming is specified in detail. It remains the responsibility of educators to construct meaningful learning experiences that lead to the mastery of outcomes. In short, the system has been designed to provide the learner with both the will and the skill for a lifetime of achievement and learning.

It is also important to understand that Transformational OBE is defined in terms of the transformation of groups or individuals by motivating them to become involved contributors in the processes affecting their own educational advancement and that of their peers. Meaning that group and self‑assessment becomes a positive factor.

 

WHY TRANSFORMATIONAL OBE?

 

The Transformational OBE system is the result of extensive, exhaustive study, both nationally and internationally, as part of the Education Department's determined effort to install a national educational system which is timeous, contemporary and productive, as our country accelerates its efforts to find its rightful place in the world.

But in the final analysis it is a South African initiative aimed at transforming the education and training system so that South Africans are fully equipped to meet the challenges of the coming millennium. The initiative involves change, substantial change, and appropriately, it takes place at a time when the whole world is deeply involved in the processes of change, the lesson being that there was never a better time to institute meaningful change. The major change is in the focus of the education system, from content and the memorisation of statistics and fact, to a system that places its primary emphasis on the development of an inquiring spirit, leading to the acquisition of knowledge, together with the skills and attitudes to apply this knowledge in a constructive way.

The Transformational OBE system is organised around nationally agreed, cross‑field critical outcomes, which is the overriding objective of the entire process, and applies to all learners and all types of learning, with specific outcomes agreed for particular areas of learning, especially the 7 key areas of learning.

The system provides for holistic assessment on the basis of the outcomes ‑ that is a recognised and accepted method of value measurement, employing a mix of portfolio, performance and other aids to judgement. And in all cases, the effort centres around the needs, the capabilities and the interests of the learner.

Why should a person who is gifted at languages and social interaction be sidelined because of a poor performance in geography?

Since the outcomes are openly discussed with both the learners and their parents, in advance, they are fully informed about the skills and knowledge they will be expected to master over any defined period. Consequently, since learners are aware of the assessment criteria, the process of assessment is crystal clear and the "fear and trembling factor" eliminated. Furthermore, since our schools, colleges, technikons and universities are also fully aware of the outcomes, in terms of reachable goals, the effect is a greater degree of accountability and increased effectiveness on the part of our institutions of learning. We live in a rapidly changing world, and within a competitive, plural and increasingly polarised environment, a world that values people who are adaptable, inventive, ingenious and motivated, and we are confident that these are qualities that Transformational OBE is well placed to encourage, rehearse and release.

QUESTION

Does the word "Transformational" used in an educational sense, have any connection with the word "transformational" in a political sense?

ANSWER

0nly insofar as they are both concerned with the same outcome, the transformation of the people of South Africa into skilled, able and competitive citizens of the world. But in its educational meaning, the word transformational is a widely‑accepted international term and has no narrow party‑political implications.

 

 

TRANSFORMATIONAL OBE AND THE LEARNER

In the application of the Transformational OBE system there are nothing but benefits ‑ both educational and real‑life benefits. Let us consider what they are, firstly, for the learner. The process has systems to identify gatural talents and to develop these to the full. Learners are partners in the progress of their own development, and interest is engaged and maintained throughout the education cycle. Moreover, learners are encouraged to monitor and assess their own progress towards the outcomes, and are given every opportunity to succeed. The mix of academic and applied knowledge is stimulating, the combination of theory and practice is very rewarding. It leads to a growing awareness of the value of skills, a heightened alertness and will to achieve, and a greater sensitivity to the many ways of seeing, thinking, and forming value judgements. The market is in desperate need of such talents.

 

 

QUESTION

I've heard that in the OBE system no learner will fall. Is this true?

ANSWER

If, by "failure" you mean a refusal to permit further progress, then the answer is "yes", since OBE does not embrace this definition of failure. OBE is designed to improve standards and to swell the ranks of the qualified. Learners progress towards the mastery of outcomes at their own rate, and therefore at different rates. But it is a basic tenant of the system that all learners can succeed. Having mastered an activity they progress to another one. Real learning becomes the key, and the achievement of learning is not constricted in time frames. A refusal to penalise those whose progress is less rapid than others does not imply the promotion of mediocrity. It is aimed at giving learners, gifted or otherwise, a better chance to reach their true potential.

 

 

 

 

 

QUESTION

Will examinations continue to be written?

ANSWER

Examinations will be even more important, since they will occur much less frequently. They will be written at what we term "exit points". Between exams, progress will be monitored by assessment, and even then, exams may well form part of the assessment process at a particular school or learning centre. It is important to understand than assessment is a broader term than "exam" and embraces the concept of "exam" together with all other constructive methods of assessment, e.g. portfolio assessment, performance assessment, tests, etc.

 

QUESTION

Fewer examinations? Doesn't that imply a lowering of standards?

ANSWER

Quite the reverse. The agreed national outcome is unequivocal on this question. It is the raising of national standards. One must understand that a surfeit of traditional examinations is often detrimental to this aim, in terms of wasted time and meaningless results. The meaningful and effective monitoring of progress is by no means dependent on constant examinations. It depends on constant encouragement and assessment, after which progress is proved by timeous examination in the form of comprehensive external assessment at appropriate points.

 

 

QUESTION

How will out‑of‑school learners be assessed, and will they be credited for prior‑learning?

ANSWER

Yes, though precisely how has yet to be finalised. In a system which values real‑life accomplishment, accomplishments gained in real life have an obvious value. This important issue is currently being addressed by a working group representing the departments of Education and Labour, together with other organisations. The result of their collaboration will be the drafting of Policies and Guidelines for the Recognition of Prior Learning.

 

QUESTION

In view of the high absentee rate, how feasible is continuous assessment?

ANSWER

Many educators believe that high absenteeism is directly related to traditional teaching and schooling methods. It follows that if we succeed in instilling the culture of learning, and therefore learneraccountability, both an integral part of Curriculum 2005, that absenteeism will be dramatically reduced.

 

QUESTION

Who will monitor the educators' assessments?

ANSWER

The provincial education authority's Education and Quality s Assurance officers.

 

 

QUESTION

How is it possible to make a meaningful assessment in overcrowded classrooms, or even where no classrooms exist?

ANSWER

The new curriculum does not pretend to solve the facilitative problem. That issue is being addressed at provincial and community level. Despite this, project and performance assessment, self‑assessment and peer assessment is practical in any situation, and tuitional circumstances may well form part of such assessment at the end of each phase.

 

QUESTION

What assessment criteria are employed in the promotion of learners?

ANSWER

The criteria have been clearly detailed in the phase documents, and he educators' assessments are guided by and based on these documents.

 

QUESTION

How are learners to be grouped in a classroom?

ANSWER

The educator has a critical role to play in tailoring the learning process to the dynamics of a learning site. Therefore no definitive answer can be given to this question. Much depends on both the outcome, and the types and ages of the learners the educator is dealing with. Some activities lend themselves to homogeneous groupings, others are more productive when the groupings are heterogeneous. It all comes down to the central role which the educator, as catalyst and leader, plays in ensuring that learners learn.

 

 

QUESTION

With fewer examinations, isn't there an increased risk of favouritism and nepotism?

ANSWER

0nly an extremely irresponsible teacher would artificially advance a favoured learner towards the comprehensive external assessments, gatekeeping and exit exams. At that time such favoured progress would come to an immediate halt. Moreover, since the assessors are themselves subject to ongoing and random assessment, such a situation is a minefield of potential complications, and whilst not impossible, is highly unlikely. Ultimately, learner sample work will be used to arrive at a judgement.

 

QUESTION

For six years the old syllabus and the new curriculum will exist side by side, so how will we strike a balance between them?

AN SWE R

The major change is in the approach, the mindset to that approach, and the integration of concepts in a cross‑curricular form. The basic knowledge and content to be learned remains very much the same, allowing for updates and improvements. But the way that mathematics, for example, is learned and applied, will alter in the new system, and the uses to which mathematical knowledge is put will multiply. Curriculum 2005 will constantly encourage learners to make critical connections between information contained in one learning area, and another the cross‑curricular approach. This encouragement will have a rub‑off effect on learners in other grades, and will effectively create its own balance as the culture of learning takes root.

 

QUESTION

How will "Reports" work in the OBE system?

ANSWER

The "Report" system will continue, and assessments, learner records and portfolios will be used for this purpose. In reporting, the aim will be to convey valuable information on learner progress to parents and educators so that both can understand the strengths and weaknesses of the learner's work. In future reporting will reflect the outcomes achieved, and each province will decide on the model best suited to its own setting. The principles detailed in the broad Assessment Framework will be adhered to.

 

 

TRANSFORMATIONAL OBE AND THE EDUCATOR

The benefits of Transformational OBE for educators are no less impressive. Now they can really help to advance democracy in their communities. Teachers will now be partners in the system, and not merely the conduits through which a syllabus is transmitted. They will have encouragement and every opportunity to expose and nurture the best talents of those in their care. Working with the learners towards the outcomes promises to be an enjoyable experience as the new system reinvigorates and refreshes the whole process of learning. As the focus changes from the consumption of knowledge to the construction of knowledge, stress levels will be reduced. And educators will be encouraged to analyse their own performance within the boundaries of the new system, with a view to refinement and improvement. Nothing is set in stone here fluidity and openness lies at the heart of the system. Above all, educators can finally optimise their role in shaping our country's future, by adopting a positive attitude and creating the climate and conditions which will bring about a successful outcome.

 

QUESTION

As an educator, what are the implications for me in the classroom?

ANSWER

There are major implications, since the Education Department will o longer be telling you what to do, but merely what outcomes are required, at the same time providing you with all the necessary source material to achieve these outcomes. Another change is one of attitude. You may have been a lifelong educator, now you must convert into a lifelong learner, a member of a planning group, a coach and teambuilder, and an identifier of those resources in your community which could be fruitfully employed to accomplish your goals. It's not difficult, it's your mind you have to master, and you can do this readily by writing an outcome for yourself. In doing this you will help yourself by identifying the need for effective planning, planning which will enable you to play the different roles required: facilitator, assessor, researcher, community member, mediator of learning. Also be prepared for an increase in the noise levels in your classroom, an inevitable result of participation and cooperation, and the enthusiasm that this generates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUESTION

Can you explain what my precise role will be?

ANSWER

Yours will be the pivotal role in the whole exercise. Amongst other things educators will:

 

Serve as mediators of meaning by encouraging and stimulating construction and production of knowledge

 

Serve as mediators of learning

 

Apply learner‑centred educational approaches ‑ the design and planning of a variety of learning experiences for the learners in your care to take part in

 

Show learners how to use the different ways of learning, notetaking, research, memory, cooperation with others, learning by doing

 

Understand, and help learners understand, how to use information critically

 

 

Help learners to solve problems and make decisions

 

Encourage and demonstrate critical and creative thinking

 

Show the benefits of developing effective communication and socialising skills

 


Organise and facilitate group and collaborative work

 

Organise classrooms for interactive teaching and learning

 

Anticipate learner differences and provide the separate teaching and support strategies for differing education needs

 

Develop effective assessment skills by using a mix of assessment methods

 

Write accurate and clear reports on learner outcomes, indicating progress and remedial requirements

 

Revise planning to enable slow learners to make faster progress

 

Apply democratic and non‑discriminatory practices in classrooms

 

Create a supportive and caring atmosphere in the classroom

 

Identify and develop learning resources within the community

 

This may sound like a major adjustment, but that depends on how you look at it. It could be as simple as climbing down off the podium, mixing in with the class, and taking it from there.

 

QUESTION

Are there support mechanisms to help teachers make these changes?

ANSWER

Yes, though you may not need them as much as you think you do. Learning Area Advisors will provide support on questions of methodology and assessment. Education Development Officers will assist managers to deal with the new approach. In addition, the following facilities are readily accessible:

 

School colleagues, (cooperative learning)

 

Phase/learning area groups in schools

 

Networks among schools

 

Study Groups

 

NGOs

 

Tertiary Institutions

 

Public media, (eg newspaper supplements)

 

Orientation courses

 

 

0 National Development Training Courses

 

 

 

 

QUESTION

How is a supportive climate created?

 

ANSWER

Each school will develop its own method of approach, but all must understand that such a climate is critical to the successful transformation of schools into recognised and respected institutions of learning. OBE's greatest successes occur in circumstances where leadership is based on participation; that is the constructive engagement of all staff in decision‑making and day‑to‑day management. Participatory management does not prescribe or control behaviour. It recognises the creativity, flexibility and resilience of staff members and honours their contribution to the common goal.

QUESTION

Is it permissible for educators to study during school hours

ANSWER

AIthough self‑development is encouraged it obviously cannot occur at the expense of national priorities, and educator study during school hours is simply not acceptable. Nonetheless, the desire of educators to improve their skills and techniques will be encouraged in every possible way. There are initiatives underway to compensate educators for both self‑development and contributions to the school. And beyond that, the OBE system is very productive in the area of "learning by doing"

QUESTION

How does the new system influence the way I allocate my time?

ANSWER

Make no mistake, there will be pressures on your time and timemanagement abilities. You will have to schedule your time carefully, starting with the organisation of the learning programmes. Then there's the planning of the class time‑table, enabling learners to work at their own pace, whilst ensuring that achievers are not delayed by those who are not yet ready. You will have to allow time for further training, time for discussion and reflection with your colleagues, time for assessment. Many outcomes depend on the way you manage your time.

QUESTION

My impression is that schools are not yet fully aware of what is happening, and that colleges are not yet on board. Is this true?

ANSWER

It is partially true, and that is the reason for a booklet like this one. A huge information and training effort is required, and pressing needs are being addressed through the professional work of provincial education departments in tandem with the Advocacy Campaign. An array of useful and practical information is in the pipeline, including orientation training, media resources, videos and networking. Awareness and comprehension levels are scheduled to rise dramatically in the coming months.

QUESTION

It appears to me that problems are being caused by inconsistency of attendance at training programmes. In some cases different people attend consecutive sessions. Is this accurate?

ANSWER

This is a problem and it is receiving attention. The provinces have adopted plans to deal with the matter, and it is regarded as urgent. Provinces are presently developing Implementation Teams, and these teams will act as catalysts to ensure that all educators from each province, in all schools, receive suitable training.

QUESTION

How can we be sure that the trainers are competent to train all educators, particularly in view of the situation caused by the multiplicity of ex‑departments?

ANSWER

Training is ongoing, and at this time the trainers themselves are still engaged with their training processes. The result of this will be competent trainers, and it has been recommended that qualified trainers should be directed at specific target audiences, once their training is complete.

QUESTION

Many disadvantaged educators had difficulty in mastering the old syllabus, how will they cope with this complicated new curriculum?

ANSWER

Practically everything sounds complicated until you understand it. The fact is that it's a lot easier to move from a poorly‑performing system to one that holds the promise of progress and results. There's an incentive in that alone, an incentive strongly fortified by the fact that even the disadvantaged now have a voice. Added to which, provinciallevel training is now proceeding at a rapid pace to fully inform all educators about the terms and techniques which are likely to be most productive in the new learning system. In addition, when you consider that representatives of the disadvantaged groups played a role in engineering the basis of the new system, there is every reason for optimism. The evidence emerging from the pilot programmes strongly suggests that educators are finding the new system very much more productive and meaningful.

QUESTION

On the issue of readiness to teach OBE, how will this be decided'?

ANSWER

A part from the professional systems now in place, the real question is one of enthusiasm and the commitment that flows from it. Enthusiasm for the creation of a learning, competitive nation; enthusiasm for progress, enthusiasm to instill a love of learning. There will be those who have it, those who share it, and those who don't. The bottom line is that our country has waited for a very long time for the advantages of meaningful learning. It was one of the promises that brought the present government to power. And now that it is available, we should all be ready to embrace it, since if we are not ready, we are not aligned with the hopes of the nation. It's your decision. Are you ready?

TRANSFORMATIONAL OBE AND THE SCHOOL

For the school itself placed, as it is, at the centre of the educational stage ‑there is the promise of a much more rewarding and fulfilling experience. There will be greater accountability in terms of the outcomes and this will result in increased effectiveness across the spectrum. Classrooms will be opened up, barriers dismantled and inflexible timetables discarded. Subject specialists will end their isolation and be integrated into the mainstream of the teaching team. All involved will share in this unique opportunity to drive South Africa forward.It is important for all institutions of learning to recognise that they have been given a very distinctive ball, and that it now their responsibility to run with it, and so turn it into a national resource. It is no overstatement to say that the hopes of the nation depend on this. Your school, all schools, must now be transformed into learning institutions providing a discernible improvement in the quality and consistency of their results. There are no exceptions to this. Apart from a thorough understanding of the new system this involves the provision of educational opportunities to other sectors of the community; agreement on the vision and mission of the school in terms of practical goals, and the drawing up of workable business plans for which the school will be accountable. In the future your community will be looking to schools to occupy a leadership position in its advancement. To this end, school authorities will do well to provide a climate in which educators and learners can exercise their creativity, and in which all involved in the process work together to shape the school's activities and to make the best use of available time. Efficiency is extremely important, as is the development of educator‑capacity through team planning and team‑teaching.

QUESTION

Can you explain the widespread use of the word "learner"?

ANSWER

0ur country needs to improve the expectations of a large number of people who are neither students nor pupils, and who are justifiably uncomfortable when referred to in these terms. In a society where learning is valued, the learner is esteemed, and the word "learner"will be used to describe all those engaged in the learning process. It is a term one quickly becomes accustomed to.

QUESTION

Is an "Outcome" the same thing as an objective?

ANSWER

By "objective" we refer to the educator's goal set at the beginning of a learning programme or series of programmes. The "outcome" is the result of the learning programme; what the learner knows, can do, values and wishes to be like.

QUESTION

The language of tuition seems to be more and more complex. Can anything be done to simplify it?

ANSWER

All involved are acutely aware that this is a mounting problem, an international problem, and not merely a South African issue. There is a world‑wide move towards simplification, and education authorities fully subscribe to it. Instructions have gone out to trainers and facilitators to simplify the language of learning in every possible way, without distorting meaning, and the same instructions have gone to the developers of learning support materials.

QUESTION

How will learners with special needs be catered for in the new curriculum?

ANSWER

A team consisting of members of the National Commission on Special Needs in Education and the National Committee for Educational Support Services is presently involved in an investigation into this area. Action will follow their recommendations. The Education Department is anxious to cater for all those with special needs, and the fact that Curriculum 2005 is already available in Braille is an indication of the department's concerns in this area.

QUESTION

Will the new system mean changing the way the school day Is organised?

ANSWER

Inevitably. One of the key strengths of the new system is its flexibility. Time‑tabling under the old system was too rigid and controlled. The new system is open and versatile, and teachers and learners can agree on a method that suits them. For example, it could be an idea to split the school day into three segments. The early morning session might be devoted to large‑group learning or shared experiences, followed by small group activities and individual and self‑assessment. The next session might be individual practising, with educator‑assistance, enrichment and extension. Then the final session could be given over to application, reflection and preparation for the following day. Sport, additional culture and other activities would be tailored around the learning sessions. The point is that there is no prescribed method, and each school adopts the system that suits it best.

QUESTION

What about the question of discipline in the new system?

ANSWER

Discipline is discipline in any system, and unruly behaviour should be dealt with in a constitutional and humane way. There is however reason to suppose that the involving nature of the new system acts to reduce the urge to rebel. Learners co‑opted into the process of managing their own advancement have less reason and less time to derail progress towards outcomes.

QUESTION

When educators attend further training sessions, will they be substituted in their classrooms?

ANSWER

In‑School Education and Training is part of the job description of all involved involved in education, including departmental officials. We cannot afford the luxury of further training of educators during critical teaching periods, and national substitution is impractical. Training will take place during the afternoons, or as deemed fit by the provinces.

QUESTION

The new system seems to demand more individual attention. Does that mean that the learner‑educator ratio will be improved?

ANSWER

That is highly unlikely. The question of ratios is not seen to be nearly as pressing as the issues of methodology, parental and community involvement and the building of a culture of learning. Recent research on Mathematics and Science Performance in the middle school years in South Africa revealed that the percentage of students who felt that they needed to do a lot of hard work and study at home, in order to do well, was lower than in nearly all other countries. And whilst it is desirable to improve the learner‑educator ratio in the medium term, the fact is that other priorities must precede this.

QUESTION

With two systems in one school over the next few years, won't the result be a split personality?

ANSWER

There's no reason to believe so, though much depends on the educator's frame of mind. Whilst some classes are busy implementing OBE, others could try the OBE approach experimentally. This can easily be achieved by involving learners in both the learning and the assessment techniques. But such experiments should include the strategic coordination of all aspects, including structural, managerial, leadership, personal, professional and cultural issues. The point here is that there's nothing to be gained by hiding the planned move to the new curriculum from those not yet involved in it. The new system has benefits which are quickly appreciated by all those who are exposed to it. This means that every school must prepare for a certain amount of lobbying from learners not yet integrated with the new system, and it would be wise to accommodate the inquisitive in every way that is practical, as this in itself will ease the process of transition.

QUESTION

How will teachers acquire the necessary learning materials?

ANSWER

Through the education department, through publishers and NGOs, rom the Internet, (where accessible), through provincial networks, from educational resource centres and community learning centres. Through innovative and creative thinking. And by redesigning and restructuring existing materials to suit your circumstances.

TRANSFORMATIONAL OBE, THE PARENT AND TH E COMMU N ITY

The parent group and the community share in the wide‑ranging benefits of OBE. The dynamics of the cooperative building and learning process and its integration with the community at large means that the learning institution starts to be regarded as a community resource ‑ one to be approached, investigated and interacted with. The culture of the previous system made a sharp distinction between mental and manual labour, but as we move away from this mindset, the learners, educators and the community will become one force in shaping the curriculum of the school. We will soon witness the public elevation of centres of learning to their proper place in society.

QUESTION

What is the role of the parent in the OBE process?

ANSWER

Parents, central to all systems, play a particularly important role in Outcomes Based Education, with its stress on real‑life learning. For who knows more about this issue than the parents themselves? Therefore parental involvement is encouraged, over and above the normal demonstration of interest and the sharing of success. Parents are invited to play a monitoring role on a wide range of issues, including:

 

Ensuring that educational outcomes are of the highest standards

 

Identifying and articulating the values and beliefs of those who share the learning site and helping to develop the vision of the school

 

Assisting managers and educators to improve the performance of their professional tasks

 

Deciding on schoo times

 

Offering voluntary services of all kinds; carpentry, metalwork, librarianship, games coaching, accountancy skills, painting, legal advice, and whatever other resource lies untapped at the community's doorstep, all aimed at advancing the progress of the school and its learners by supplementing the skills of the educators.

 

The active promotion of the "culture of learning" through the creation of a cuIturally‑encouraging and learner‑friendly climate in the home.

 

Assistance in the development of determined achievers and the construction of a positive learning environment.

 

Acting as agents for the gathering and utilisation of all resources available in the community which could promote the learning process.

QUESTION

I am concerned that important subjects like geography and history appear to have dropped from the system. Can you explain this?

ANSWER

They have not been dropped, they have been relocated and integrated into the curriculum in a more pertinent and relevant form. For example the history of technology and the history of art, are now separated into the learning areas of technology and art, whereas they were previously grouped under the subject of history. The new system positions learning in context.

QUESTION

Will parents have to pay more to support the new system?

ANSWER

Not directly in terms of fees. But if you want to put a monetary value on your time in terms of giving time more freely, of becoming involved with your children's school and with the processes aimed at giving kids a better chance, then the answer is yes. Education is a responsibility which parents share with the state, and all parents should be active in fund‑raising and resource‑development.

QUESTION

What happens if my child achieves the agreed outcome before the end of a year?

ANSWER

The learner will be encouraged to engage in activities of higher complexity. There is no limit to the progress a learner with high capabilities can make, within the framework of the system. The system is extremely flexible, will reward excellence, encourage progress, even beyond the learner's grade of learning, but always positions learners within their own age groups, for emotional and social reasons.

TRANSFORMATIONAL OBE AND SCHOOL CONCERNING BODIES.

There is also much that school governing bodies need to do to promote the new process ‑ most importantly through the creation of a culture of collaboration, which has a direct bearing on the effectiveness of outcomes. This involves a wholehearted commitment to continuous improvement, experimentation, and a search for ever better practices. The general sharing of ideas will influence the performance of others, and conscious networking within parents bodies will lead to more widespread parental involvement. And the encouragement of critical reflection will create an open and trusting environment. Most importantly, we cannot afford to be content and we must establish a climate in which there are healthy, ongoing discussions concerning the purposes, values and practices of the school.

QUESTION

Some teachers are resistant to change. How do we deal with this?

ANSWER

It is understandably difficult for an educator who has devoted a lifetime to teaching by a particular method to accept that the method might be flawed; that it is less productive than it might be. The facts speak for themselves. The old systems have not produced the results the nation demands from them. It is time for change. And the biggest change required is a change in attitude. It is worth repeating that the creation of a lifelong culture of learning is the goal, and that educators are the instrument by which that goal will be achieved. We are not operating a production line, we are managing an education system, and gentle persuasion linked to the growing enthusiasm of learners and parents will soon persuade even the most sceptical teachers that there is merit, great merit in Curriculum 2005.

QUESTION

Has OBE been successful in other countries?

ANSWER

Many of the most successful countries in the world have instituted Many form of Outcomes‑Based Education. In some countries, the version adopted has been subjected to criticism as being too narrow, overly academic, or focused too tightly on vocational objectives. South Africa's Transformational OBE system has benefited from the experience of other nations and has been carefully designed and refined for our own circumstances. The crafting of the critical outcomes and the design of the learning programmes has been done in a way which ensures that the learning experience is broad, relevant, meaningful and integrated.

QUESTION

Suppose we get a new government and another curriculum change, what then?

ANSWER

Curriculum change is an ongoing international trend which invariably mirrors change in the society at large. And to the extent that this reflects the ideology of the day, there will always be changes. But the common thread is the hopes of learners, parents and communities to improve and consolidate their position in life, and those who develop a positive attitude to lifelong learning are likely to sustain that interest no matter what the curriculum or the government.

QUESTION

Is it reasonable for parents to believe that schools should educate their children in all respects?

ANSWER

Certainly not. In fact parents should understand that primary coeducation is primarily the responsibility of parents and the home, and that school education is the extension and refinement of home education. From this perspective it is essential that parents assist learners by leading the learning process. Even illiterate and semiliterate adults have a responsibility, if not an obligation, to show keen interest and add the value of their real life experiences to their children's learning programmes.

QUESTION

There will be parents who have a child engaged with the old system and another child with the new one. How is this problem to be, dealt with?

ANSWER

This is not a problem at all, but a healthy development. It must be nuclear to everyone that we are engaged in a mammoth undertaking in the national interest. It is impractical to imagine that we can introduce the new system overnight, and all involved have agreed that the phasing in of Curriculum 2005 is the most sensible approach. Thismeans that certain age groups presently at school will not be engaged with the new system and that others will make only a brief acquaintance with it. But all will be influenced by the process, and all will benefit from the reawakening of interest in educational excellence. Parents, educators and learners must deal with this by spreading good will throughout their schools and grades, and by doing so, infect all with a burning thirst for knowledge. And at the same time, parents will be able to make their own assessments of the results.

QUESTION

The importance of technical education seems to have been elevated in the new system. Why is this, and how do we provide facilities?

ANSWER

What has happened is that part of the philosophy of the new V system is the promotion of a broad range of competencies, and not simply the narrow early skilling which was the goal of the outgoing system. Work is work, and is honoured as such throughout the world, and technical competence is no less worthy than academic achievement. It must also be clearly understood that we have adopted an integrated approach to education and training. Nonetheless, the need for well‑resourced learning centres cannot be denied, and efforts to provide more resources to enhance technical learning strategies are well advanced.

QUESTION

The new system seems to be accompanied by new terminology. How are we to deal with it?

ANSWER

Every discipline comes with new terminology, and in the case of OBE certain terms have been adopted by our South African authorities as having meanings with standard applications affecting the General Education phase. The terms employed have been sourced to some extent from countries presently practising OBE, but not in all cases, since ours is a uniquely South African system. It is reassuring to note that the aim is to uncomplicate and simplify the general terminology of learning.

QUESTION

How does the "resource gap" in schools affect the potential of OBE?

ANSWER

Adequate resources are essential and the move towards equity in provisioning is accelerating. This also applies to the adequate provisioning of libraries, community resource centres and regionalreference centres. These are well advanced in the planning stages. But while this process is underway, facilitators need to continue their improvisational role. We must stop defining 'resources' as being hardcopy texts and embark on a process of tapping whatever resources are available in communities to develop the life‑skills of learners.

QUESTION

Some parents with children in pilot classes fear that their children are being used as guinea pigs. Can you allay these fears?

ANSWER

The purpose of the pilot is not to prove the system, that has already been done. It is to rehearse the participants. Therefore, those fortunate enough to be exposed to the system through the pilot stage will enjoy the advantage of being accustomed to the new system before their peers and colleagues. Parents should be aware of the enormous benefits flowing from this, and again encouraged to involve themselves in the process.

QUESTION

Some parents and parent‑bodies are concerned that they were not consulted. Is this true, and if so why?

ANSWER

Representative parent groups have been involved throughout the evolution of the new system, but is is true that some groups feel that they were not adequately informed. The current Advocacy Campaign, of which this information is a part, is addressing these concerns. A variety of techniques and instruments will be employed to communicate the values of the new system on a broader front, including face to face interaction. So it is important that all parents are aware of the upcoming changes as a precursor to their own involvement, and governing bodies are urged to reach out to parents, to inform them and involve them.

QUESTION

Is it realistic to expect OBE or any other system to recharge demotivated educators?

ANSWER

If some educators are dernotivated because they are educators, then no system can help them, and they will be better off in some other occupation. But if they are dernotivated by poor results, a lack of encouragement and a high failure and dropout rate, then the new system is rich in the promise of renewal. The state and the Education Department, in collaboration with all the stakeholders involved in the development process, are convinced that this system is the right one. They are enthusiastic and determined, as are provincial authorities. But zeal, energy and optimism are required at every level, and educators have a particularly significant role to play.

QUESTION

Some educators feel that the "culture of teaching" is in the process of being lost. Can you comment on that?

ANSWER

0nly by repeating that teaching is not an end in itself, and can be considered a failure unless learners learn. It is unproductive to talk of a culture of teaching if such teaching neglects the purpose of teaching, which is effective learning. And even though some teachers might feel that what they have to teach cannot be improved upon, the results speak for themselves. The old system has not produced enough people who are prepared and qualified for a meaningful role in life. The system must change, and the Directorate for the Culture of Learning and Teaching Services was commissioned to lead the changes. A key change is the attitude of educators. They must themselves be prepared to learn, so spreading a culture of learning, and in doing so renew and reinforce the much‑respected art of educating. Educators can make a difference, they can establish a culture of learning.

QUESTION

It is said that some trainers are themselves negative about OBIE. Is this true?

ANSWER

No one can manage such a vast undertaking without coming across some habitually disgruntled people. The plain fact is that such a trainer needs to make a swift and fundamental shift in their attitude, and begin to understand matters in their correct perspective. Otherwise such a trainer should immediately withdraw from the training process.

QUESTION

Is it true that there is still some resistance to OBE In certain communities?

ANSWER

Resistance to the implementation of OBE and scepticism about its goals stem largely from misinformed people and communities with their own agendas. These groups must understand that the process of educational transformation is a national imperative, that the state has soberly and advisedly elected to back the Transformational OBE system, that there is no going back, and that it will proceed towards its stated goal. Always remember that OBE dictates the outcomes, not the methods. So it is up to communities to evolve the most suitable methods for achieving the outcomes.

QUESTION

Do we refer to Lifelong Learning, or Curriculum 2005?

ANSWER

Our stated goal is lifelong learning, Curriculum 2005 is the nameOwe give to the project, and Transformational OBE is the instrument by which this will be achieved.

QUESTION

Certain parents have expressed concerns about the language or languages of learning and teaching. What is the policy on this issue?

ANSWER

Language policy is agreed and in place. School language policy falls within the authority of Governing Councils.

QUESTION

Will OBE challenge or influence cultural values?

ANSWER

All learning and all teaching constitute an ongoing challenge to cultural values, and OBE will be no different. The culture of the Internet did not exist ten years ago, yet today it has very widespread credence and value. Cultural values will not be threatened by OBE, but the dynamic nature of cultural learning will continue to influence cultural values. Curriculum 2005 is underpinned by cultural fairness and antibias principles.

QUESTION

How will OBE impact on culture and religion?

ANSWER

The programmes place their emphasis on the broad understanding of cultures and religions in an affirming and honouring way, together with a celebration of the rich diversities and commonalities of all communities involved, and in this way mirrors and emphasises the freedoms in the constitution.

QUESTION

How do we turn schools into learning institutions?

ANSWER

By a will to do so, linked to enthusiasm, energy and determination. By harnessing widespread community involvement in a culture of collaboration. By understanding that the contribution of resources, skills and experiences and the sharing of goals has the potential to make a huge impact, both on the process of learning and on the community at large. By positioning the school principal, as leading learner, in the major role as the developer of a collaborative culture. By encouraging learners, applauding learners and celebrating the culture of learning. By believing that South Africa can become one of the world's most informed, competitive and successful nations.