Youth sacrificed for OBE


After 12 years of massive educational failures and the waste of millions of rands, the ANC has dumped Outcomes-Based Education.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced plans yesterday to phase out OBE and replace it with a schooling system that recognised that most South African children have no access to the Internet or to well-stocked libraries.

Statistics have revealed that, under the OBE system, a million children dropped out of school every year and more than five million pupils left school unable to read or write adequately.

Yesterday, ANC health and education chairman Dr Zweli Mkhize, who is also KwaZulu-Natal premier, said the party was pushed into rethinking its education policies because of the huge number of pupils who could not read or write.

It "had to act" on an avalanche of complaints from pupils, teachers and parents.

Motshekga said the new system, "Action Plan 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025", will be piloted from grades1 to 6 from next year, and will be fully implemented to matric level in 2012.

She said that Schooling 2025 is the cornerstone of her department's "overarching priority turnaround plan".

It will deal with improving Internet access and libraries at schools, upgrading of school buildings and basic facilities, such as toilets, training teachers, and improving parental involvement in education.

Reluctant to call OBE an abject failure, Motshekga conceded that, though the system was launched "with the best of intentions", it had major flaws, including:

  • A weak and superficial curriculum that was "unrealistic" and lacking in "specific objectives";
  • The assumption that pupils had access to research facilities such as telephones, the Internet, libraries and newspapers; and
  • It being open to a wide variety of interpretations, and teachers had no clarity about what was required of them.

Yesterday, Motshekga announced that pupils will have to do fewer research projects, but did not specify how many.

She said that matric portfolios had been scrapped, which would remove a huge administrative burden from teachers "which they have been complaining about for some time".

"We are removing the last ghost of 1998," said Motshekga, referring to the year in which OBE was implemented by her predecessor, Sibusiso Bhengu.

But she insisted that the disgraced system did not produce a "dark age or a lost generation" of pupils - despite the fact that half of all pupils dropped out before Grade 12, 40% of those who did make it did not pass last year, and many were failing university .

Motshekga said that, between now and 2012, a massive training drive will be launched for the country's teachers to equip them to handle the new curriculum.

Mugwena Maluleke, general secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers' Union, said the union was delighted. "The education ministry must be careful about cutting and pasting from other countries. OBE was imposed on us by consultants. That's why we opposed it in 1998.

"It had failed in Australia and England, why take it out of the recycle bin and use it in South Africa?" he asked.

He said he was happy that there will be new textbooks, which will be accompanied by workbooks for each subject, from grades 1 to 6.

Ezra Ramasehla, president of the National Professional Teachers' Organisation, said: "Teachers will now have more time to teach and have a focus on exactly what to assess."