Teachers unprepared for curriculum

In two provinces, teachers will not be able to implement the new curriculum next year because they have not been trained. Questions have also been raised about the quality of the training the provincial education departments conduct.

Next year the curriculum, known as Caps, will be implemented in grades four, five, six and 11, following this year's introduction of it in grades one, two, three and 10.

But plans to train teachers still have to be finalised in KwaZulu-Natal and North West, teacher unions have told the Mail & Guardian. "The worry is that there won't be sufficient time to do proper training," said Allan Thompson, executive director of the National Teachers' Union.

Unions have also criticised the quality of the training workshops that took place in several provinces during the June holidays.

Carol Bertram of the University of KwaZulu-Natal's school of education has echoed the concern, saying she is not confident the Caps training workshops will have any effect on the quality of learning in classrooms. 

"What many teachers need is to build deep disciplinary knowledge and knowledge of how to effectively teach their particular subject to the particular learners in their class, Once-off workshops seldom lead to deep teacher learning and transformed professional practice."

Provincial training inadequate
Unions ran their own programmes because training received in the provincial education departments' workshops did not prepare teachers sufficiently, provincial leaders told the M&G this week. "The department's training runs for four days during June and October," said Walter Hlaise, secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) in Mpumalanga. "This is not enough to prepare teachers for new curriculum implementation."

The union also augmented training in the Northern Cape, its provincial secretary, Sipho Mayongo, said.

In the Free State, Sadtu members complained that teachers had received only one day's training. "We remain convinced that more time is needed for Caps training," said Mokholoane Moloi, Sadtu's provincial secretary.

Delays in kicking off training in KwaZulu-Natal and North West suggested authorities would have to play  catch-up next year — as it was forced to do this year, unions said.

But Gershwin Chuenyane, spokesperson for the North West education department, said training scheduled for June had been postponed at the request of unions, which argued that convening workshops then made no sense because implementation would only start in January and "by that time teachers would probably struggle to implement what they learned seven months ago". But, he said, new plans were now in place. "By the time schools close all grades would have been trained."

Teachers in seven provinces did not receive Caps training last year despite its implementation this year, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga told Parliament in June.

In January, the basic education portfolio committee had visited the Eastern Cape and found training-related problems at several schools. "Teachers were not trained for Caps and were not ready to teach," said a committee report released in March.

The committee also visited Limpopo and Mpumalanga, where it found that many teachers had poor content knowledge of Caps subjects. Committee chairperson Hope Malgas told the M&G that, following its visits in January, the department had assured it Caps training had been "conducted as required".

The KwaZulu-Natal and Free State education spokespeople could not be reached for comment after several attempts. The basic education department told the M&G that training had started in all provinces except North West.

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