The announcement that no Grade 8 or 9 maths will be taught on a Monday to allow all maths teachers to attend intensive training at workshops, will serve only to rob learners of valuable class time instead of improving mathematics results.
The DA calls on Minister of basic education, Ms Angie Motshekga, to take the following three steps:
Have her acting director-general withdraw the circular instructing the Monday maths training with immediate effect, and replace it with a practicable, well-thought-through alternative
Make full details of the training intervention available, and allow comment and input by expert stakeholders
Have every maths teacher and subject aisor write an independently-administered and marked tests, based on the grades being taught, to identify individual shortcomings on which training can be focused. This will also allow for the identification of teachers with a high level of knowledge who can possibly assist with coaching others.
The Minister appears to be confident that weekly training and lesson planning will improve the teaching of maths, and she is probably right. However, any training that is done (and it must be done) simply has to take place outside of school hours.
The ultimate aim of the training is to help the learners improve their results. Decreasing time spent teaching is not a solution and may have further negative consequences for already struggling learners.
The DA shared Minister Motshekga’s disappointment at the poor maAnnette Lovemore
Shadow Minister of Basic Education
thematics results achieved by Grade 9 learners in the Annual National Assessments (ANA) of 2014. Only 3% of Grade 9 learners were determined to be numerate at a grade-appropriate level -a far cry from the presidential target of 60%. The average score for the Grade 9 mathematics assessment was 10.8%.
But teachers simply cannot be removed from classrooms for one day a week. The curriculum is designed to be covered by teaching for five days per school week: no amount of training will allow the teaching to be compressed into 80% of assigned teaching time. In addition, many teachers do not only teach maths, and will be unavailable for the teaching of any subject on Mondays.
Many questions still arise:
On what basis has the Minister determined that Grades 8 and 9 are the critical focus areas? Does she have evidence that it is only at this stage in a child’s schooling career that maths tuition is failing? The average Grade 4 learner achieved just 37.3% last year, Grade 5 was 37.3%, and Grade 6 was 43.1%. There certainly appears to be prima face evidence that the problem arises long before Grades 8 and 9.
Just who will conduct the training that will lead to the turnaround? We know we have excellent maths teachers in our schools, but has the Minister identified such master teachers or subject aisors, and how has she done so? Training conducted by people not thoroughly equipped will fail.
How will the Minister know whether her intervention is successful or not? She has admitted, on numerous occasions that the ANA results are not comparable year-on-year. Thus the 2015 ANA cannot be used as a measure of effectiveness.
It is very difficult to accept that this plan is anything other than an ill-thought-through pseudo-solution to a troubling problem. We hope this is not the only plan the Minister’s officials have developed.
Shadow Minister of Basic Education
Source : Democratic Alliance