Feb 22, 2010 11:17 PM
By Andile Ndlovu, Sunday Times
Some of South Africa's law graduates have been so badly educated that they can barely count, operate a computer, or read and write in English.
That's what some experts said in support of an investigation by the Council on Higher Education on the effectiveness of the Bachelor of Law degree which, they say, does not prepare students for the profession's demands.
The four-year LLB degree previously took five years to complete, but 12 years ago the Department of Justice reduced it to four years to accommodate previously disadvantaged matrics, allowing them to complete the course and save a year's tuition fees.
Nic Swart from the Law Society of South Africa said the situation was "a great concern".
"There are certainly graduates who come out prepared for practice, but the greatest concern is that many have extreme difficulty in writing properly. One of our tasks is to teach students to draft legal documents, but we find that they struggle to do that in English," he said.
"We were also commissioned by the University of Cape Town to do research with their students, and we found that 70% of them couldn't calculate even simple tasks. They emerged without the ability to research legal documents or use a computer and the Internet."
Vivienne Lawack-Davids, vice-president of the South African Law Deans' Association and executive dean at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, said she appointed 15 legal experts across the profession to advise on the university's current LLB curriculum.
"We had almost 600 applications this year and accepted about 150 new students. We've found that students struggled with literacy and numeracy. We introduced a Legal Skills module with four components that demand a student obtains 75% to pass," she said.
» » » » [Sunday Times]
Majority of Black School Leavers are Functionally Illiterate
Paul Hoffman SC, Director: Centre For Constitutional Rights,
F.W. de Klerk Foundation; 4 April 2008.
At present the South African public school system is delivering functionally literate Black (African) matriculants at a rate of 1 in 29 of those who enter our educational system. [Functional literacy means having the reading and writing skills necessary for everyday living and the workplace, i.e. equivalent to 8 years of successful formal schooling in the mother tongue or preferred language of learning.] This is dire; as Thomas Jefferson put it: “A nation that hopes to be ignorant and free… hopes for something that never was and never will be.”
One of the more hopeful signs to emerge from the ashes of the bonfires of Polokwane is that the new leadership of the ANC appears to have identified the state of basic education in the country as a problem in need of urgent attention.
In any discussion of the current state of education, it needs to be acknowledged that the task presented to the new South African government post liberation in 1994 was a Herculean one. Each homeland had an education system of its own and in South Africa there was a separate education department for each race group. Now there are no homelands and we live in a non-racial, non-sexist multi-party democracy. This welcome change has necessitated a massive re-organization of the management of the education system involving the melding of disparate fragments of varying quality.
This is no easy task.
It also needs to be acknowledged that more Herculean efforts are required in order to transform basic education into a functional system which is well able to deliver the quality of education needed to empower the youth and the previously uneducated segments of society. This to make them into happy and useful citizens who are well equipped to build the type of future for the nation that is envisaged in the Constitution.
Blaming apartheid for the ills of the education system is an excuse that is wearing increasingly thin as time passes. The children now entering the system of education are “born-frees.” They are entitled to more than “gutter education.”
The Bill of Rights guarantees the right to basic education to everyone. This right is not classified as a socio-economic right subject to “progressive realization” over time. It is a right that has been due and claimable by everyone, child and adult alike, since 1994. The State is required by law to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to basic education along with all of the other rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. If it does not do so, it is acting illegally and can be brought before the Courts for the purpose of obtaining suitable legal redress. This form of help could include a declaration of rights and an order directing the education authorities to take the steps necessary to correct that which ails the system. Also, a supervision order is claimable in terms of which the education authorities will be required to report back to the Courts on the progress being made toward the realization of the right to basic education for all at stipulated intervals.
In this way a constitutionally compliant system of education can be put in place, to the overall benefit of society as well as to those who learn and those who teach. It is, on any analysis of the war on poverty, ignorance and disease, through education that these three scourges will most sustainably and effectively be conquered. It is also self-evident that a child who comes to school hungry and sick is not as well able to benefit from classes as a healthy, disciplined and well fed child. Children who are orphaned by AIDS and other causes have responsibilities in family context which detract from their ability to take full benefit from any education system.
These are very real problems in a society in which 47% of the population live in relative poverty and 8% on less than a dollar a day. It is also shameful that these “poorest of the poor” have doubled in number between 1996 and 2005. Recent widening of the social grants umbrella, which now covers some 12 million people does address dire poverty, but it is not sustainable to have so many indefinitely on welfare in a developmental state. Promoting the achievement of equality, a onstitutional goal of the new South Africa, can obviously not take place in a context in which the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” is allowed to grow in this way. The most sustainable way in which to close this gap is to provide quality education that prepares learners to become economically active members of society. At the moment those emerging from schools find themselves swelling the ranks of the unemployed and the criminal under-class.
The most frightening statistic ( source Hough & Horne ) to emerge from the system as it has functioned in the last 12 or so years relates to the rate of functional literacy of Black matriculants who have been subjected to the current educational system. In round numbers: of the 1,560,000 six year olds who entered the first grade of our public school system 12 years ago only two thirds reached grade 10 and a third made it to matric at the end of last year. Of these, some 360,000 passed. On being tested for their functional literacy in English ( their preferred language of learning) it was found that only 15% of the 278,000 Black matriculants are functionally literate. The gross number is 42,000 Black school leavers with the potential to hold down a skilled job. Put differently, each province on average produced only 4600 functionally literate Black matriculants in 2007.
The situation portrayed by these figures is a national disgrace. Unpacked and made
digestible they mean that only 1 in 29 ( i.e. 3.5%) Black children entering the school system emerge with matric certificates in a state which enables them to enter the realms of trainability, skills acquisition, higher education and employability in an economy in which skills are in short supply. Menial workers are no longer needed in any great numbers due to globalization, mechanization and a labour dispensation that discourages their employment. Our school drop out rate is 77% over the twelve years of schooling.
According to UNESCO figures, the international norm is 21%.
These are monumental problems, and there is no quick fix solution. The most enlightened and progressive provincial education departments are aware of the poor return the taxpayer is receiving on the investment in education voted in their budgets each year.
Means of “boxing smarter” are being devised. Leadership training of staff in schools and in management of education is an effective way of introducing some positive energy.
Organizational shortcomings, dysfunctional schools and the problems of teachers who do not teach, or even know how to do so, need to be addressed. The phenomena of violence and ill-discipline at schools are obvious threats to improvement. The failure to insist on mother tongue education in the formative years is another factor which experts say contributes to poor performance. Parents who want their children educated in English will have to take responsibility for raising them from birth to speak and think in English, failing which, their early education, in the best interests of each child, will have to be in the mother tongue. A radical revision of the way in which education is supplied, administered and delivered is needed if the situation is to be corrected. The nation is in peril of regressing if nothing is done.
» » » » [Education Library (PDF: English) (PDF: Afrikaans)]
» » [Ben Chavis' Crazy Like a Fox Discipline Tough Love]
» » [9 Assumptions of Schooling & 21 Facts the Institution Would Rather Not Discuss ... ]
1700 science teachers are not qualified - DA
Wilmot James says in the Free State 39% of such teachers are unqualified
03 May 2010
Wilmot James, Democratic Alliance
A reply to a Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary question reveals that more than 1700 South African science teachers are not qualified to teach science - meaning that at least 50 000 learners are not receiving teaching from qualified educators.
The picture becomes more concerning when one examines the provincial figures more closely. In the worst performing province - the Free State - 39 per cent of science teachers are unqualified; in Kwazulu-Natal, 27 per cent are unqualified.
Science education in South African high schools is in a very poor state. The 2009 matriculation results had an extraordinary 60 per cent of all scholars who wrote the physical science examination receiving a mark of less than 40 per cent, failing therefore, by any decent standard of assessment. 40 per cent of the scholars received between 40 and 100 per cent and most of these fell in the lower end of the spectrum. Qualified science teachers must have a 3 year college diploma or university degree in science plus a teachers' diploma in order to teach science to learners.
The Western Cape is amongst the provinces that have the lowest number of under qualified teachers, and this is a figure that will be further reduced through our emphasis on performance management of educators. The DA in the Western Cape cabinet has also already drafted a bill to give our provincial government greater powers to conduct school inspections and to directly assess teacher performance in the classroom. These are the measures that we are implementing to see real, tangible improvement in the quality of science tuition in the Western Cape.
Our Western Cape administration will also be establishing four Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) centres of excellence. This will include the expansion and improvement of the Cape Academy in Tokai and Centre of Science and Technology in Khayelitsha and two additional facilities, serving previously disadvantaged learners. These centres will offer world class tuition in STEM and related subjects; thus not relegating learners to rely on solely educators, who may possibly be under-qualified.
The question of course is what are the other provincial departments of education are doing about the problem. Are they providing in-service training for un- and under-qualified teachers? We will be submitting parliamentary questions to each one, to closely monitor whether they are fulfilling their own obligations. Up until this point, however, and particularly following the publishing of these latest figures, it is clear that the ANC's record on providing science education to young South Africans has been nothing short of dire.
Statement issued by Wilmot James, MP, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of higher education, May 3 2010
» » » » [Politicsweb]
[Head of National Prosecuting Authority] Simelane 'can't lead, spell or manage'
Adriaan Basson, Mail & Guardian
Feb 12 2010 15:13
Protector National prosecutions boss Menzi Simelane. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G) [Bright enough to follow orders, to drop all charges of corruption against his boss - Zuma]
Not only does South Africa's new prosecutions chief have problems with spelling, he is also a bad manager and was lashed by the Supreme Court of Appeal for his conduct as a competitions commissioner.
That is the thrust of the Democratic Alliance's latest attack on President Jacob Zuma's appointment of Menzi Simelane as national director of public prosecutions.
In the North Gauteng High Court the DA is challenging Zuma's appointment of Simelane to head the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The party responded to papers filed by Zuma's legal team this week.
The DA argues that Simelane is not a "fit and proper" person to lead the NPA, as required by law.
In January Zuma's legal team stated that the president was concerned only with Simelane's CV when he decided to appoint him.
In his responding affidavit DA MP James Selfe says this means Zuma could not have exercised his power of appointment properly. Zuma did not have before him the CVs of any other possible candidates.
Selfe points out at least 13 errors in Simelane's CV, including the spelling of "Curriculm" (sic) on the front page of the document.
Five pages long, the CV makes claims including: "My weakness include (sic) my strength, I tend to work very long hours for extended periods thus leading to fatigue."
According to Selfe, the "slipshod way in which Mr Simelane prepared his CV reflects negatively on his conscientiousness". He adds: "More disturbingly, the lack of care which he devoted to the task justifies … the inference that Mr Simelane knew that his CV was unimportant because the President had already decided to appoint him."
Selfe argues that Zuma should have asked for references from his previous employers and would have found that the justice department, of which Simelane was director general between 2005 and 2009, received qualified audit reports from the auditor general in each of the financial years of Simelane's term.
Selfe quotes from a 2003 Supreme Court of Appeal judgment that found Simelane had "no regard to the harm it might do to its suspects" when he took a group of journalists on a Competition Commission raid of Pretoria Portland Cement.
» » » » [Mail & Guardian]