At the recent Global Math Forum organised by Marshall and Cavendish in Singapore, I presented the following Prezi on the Singapore Math roll out in township schools in South Africa by ORT SA.
Notes for the Prezi:
My presentation started with a general background on South Africa, followed by a rather gloomy and most depressing picture of the state of
education in the country.
In a previous post , I portrayed the “Ticking bomb” as described by the Ministry of Higher Education; the distressing situation of the high unemployment rate of a young cohort group, this data being of Government concern as it has huge implications on the future, as well as the present crime rate and poverty.
When discussing the state of education, it is important to take note of the past, and though 17 years have passed since Apartheid and “the past can no longer serves us as an excuse” as many critics may state, it is interesting to note that 96% of the current teachers were trained during the pre 1994 period with its deep inequalities, leaving them under-prepared for the new system and curriculum.
Therefore the Need-
South Africa is producing too few teachers, especially in key subjects such as Maths and Science. Moreover,, existing teachers spend too little time in the classroom and many teach poorly when they are in the classroom. With research overwhelmingly showing that good teaching is vital
for better student results, this is a worrying situation. (CDE Recent research).
Government has taken many measures post 1994, and the Curriculum reforms in the form of Curriculum 2005, RNCS and NCS were all based
on “Outcomes Based Education” approach. What is known as OBE is based on Student Centre Learning, with focus on empirically measuring students’ performance (called outcomes). This approach does not specify nor require any particular style of teaching or learning and is based on constructivist methods, discouraging traditional education based direct instruction.
Professor Gopinathan from the NIE Singapore noted in his speech that the Singapore Government when designing its policy, some 30 years ago, based its strategy on building strong fundamentals before introducing flexibility, choice and diversity.
In 2010, the DOE of SA introduced the CAPS Curriculum and “kicked OBE approach out of the door”…some may argue, 16 years too late.
ORT SA Math Programme incorporates three critical factors that contribute to its success as shown in learners’ performance and teachers increased competence, confidence and motivation:
1. The use of high quality materials (the Singapore Math books published by Marshall and Cavendish). These materials have the MCK (Math
Content Knowledge) and MPCK (Math Pedagogical Content Knowledge) both embedded in them. And its structure and focus approach compensate a lack of strong Curriculum.
2. Intensive teachers training, coaching and on-site support to upgrade teachers’ skills and knowledge and support them in implementation.
3. Assessment of learners and teachers to measure impact of project on their performance and bridge the gaps where necessary.
- ORT’s model of high quality books, PD and Assessment proves to improve teaching and learning of Math in township schools in SA
- Phase Approach (Starting from Grade 1) is recommended to introduce the Singapore methodologies progressively and build strong foundations
- Show case success via functions, awards ceremonies, visits to schools. These show cases are a source of motivation and pride to teachers and schools
- Importance of partnerships with DOE, Corporates, other NGOs all sharing the same aims and goals
- Parents’ involvement is a big challenge. Not only in encouraging and supporting children’s work and instill in them the values in education, but also ensuring the safety of the school
- Language – not enough research has been conducted to evaluate the implications of using English written textbooks in the Foundation Phase level, when policy requires the use of home language (there are 11 official languages in SA)
- Minimal influence on policy and reforms in education. (accountability, compensation of teachers, shared data with DOE on pupils assessment)