/ 7 May 2005

Curriculum 2005 to go ahead?

ALTHOUGH Curriculum 2005 is being scrutinized by an independent review team, millions of government money is set to be spent on new materials for piloting grades four and eight, which are to be phased in next year.

Many are asking why Minister of education Kader Asmal is pushing ahead with the implementation of the additional grades next year when the new curriculum is being reviewed.

Asmal last week announced that a team of independent educationists will evaluate the implementation of outcomes-based education during the next three months. While the move has been largely supported, educationists believe the decision to go ahead with implementation particularly in grade eight (the first year of high school) will perpetuate the same massive problems so far experienced with Curriculum 2005 – poor quality and jargon-heavy learning and teaching materials, inadequate training of teachers and confusion around the actual curriculum itself.

A tender has just been put out by the national education department for the development of new learning and training materials to pilot grades four and eight later this year. Materials developers have a mere two weeks to put together extensive OBE materials for the pilot.

The same rush to produce materials in the past three years led to the confusion and ignorance which currently surrounds the new curriculum.

Information from the provinces shows that grade seven training materials brought out by the national department last year, which cost R1,5-million, were hardly used by teachers, because of the poor quality of the materials and because teachers did not receive proper training. Curriculum developers now fear that the whole process is likely to be repeated again with the new grades, despite the independent review process the government has committed itself to.

Although Asmal has been at pains to stress that the review is not a departure from outcomes-based education, the independent evaluation is clearly a response to many of the problems with its implementation.

Asmal last week criticized the jargon-heavy and complex version of OBE which has been handed down to teachers and has in his own words ”objected to the ”gross distortion and flourishing of myths” which have sprung up. He has also criticized the ”new outcomes-based scripture of fundamentalism — not unlike fundamental pedagogics that we have sought to purge.”

However Asmal said ”Outcomes-based education is here to stay. Anyone or any political party that believes otherwise has a misplaced hankering for the past – of state sanctioned and funded quality education for the minority elite and gutter education for the majority poor – with my own and government’s determination to bring an end to the myth and dogma associated with our brand of outcomes-based education and to putting firmly in place a national curriculum of high quality for all learners.”

— The Teacher/Mail & Guardian, February 17, 2000.


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