Public hearings on the cards for Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill

The Department of Basic Education has today briefed the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education regarding progress on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill. The Department of Basic Education has today briefed the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education regarding progress on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill.

The Deputy Minister of Basic Education Mr Enver Surty said the Department was currently processing the inputs from members of the public which would further inform the direction DBE would take. He said the process was still at an early stage and would still come to Parliament for further consultation, deliberation, and persuasion. Surty said change is difficult and the Department was aware of that but that engagement is also important.

He said however there had been Constitutional Court cases in the Basic Education sector that the amendments sought to affirm in terms of the locus of authority. The Deputy Minister said there was a legal, moral and historical context to the amendments. He told the Portfolio Committee that the department had committed to canvassing diverse input through an inclusive process. “We are not going to curtail public participation we will instead encourage it because we want to hear what people have to say,” he said.

The Director General Mathanzima Mweli told the committee that the department was pleased with the responses received. Mr Mweli was responding to the remarks made by the Portfolio Committee chairperson Mrs Nomalungelo Gina who said her committee invited DBE to brief about progress thus far. Mrs Gina said her committee was also considering holding public hearings on the amendments based in the huge interest the bill has attracted.

The Acting Chief Director for Legal Services at DBE, Mr Chris Leukes, explained the rationale for the various amendments and the implications for each one. Leukes said during 2013 the Minister had appointed a Task Team to review the Basic Education legislation. The team consisted of DBE legal officials and representatives from legal units of the Western Cape, Gauteng, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal Education Departments.

The Bill contains amendments to the South African Schools Act and the Employment of Educators Act.

He said there were 46 clauses in the bill and the majority of them were not contentious. The rationale of the amendments is to clarify certain provisions that up to now created confusion. The Bill seeks to amend clauses that affect school admission, language policy, role of school governing bodies’ compulsory attendance at school, and the power of the head of department.

Enquiries:​ Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275 Troy Martens – 079 899 3070 


Payment calculation “unfair”

Education cannot be held to ransom by the “haters of transformation”

Basic Education Minister’s message to the public in regard to comments received on the Draft Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill

The Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, wishes to thank the South African public for the overwhelming response to the request for comments on the draft Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELA Bill), which was published in the Government Gazette with a deadline of 10 November 2017.

The Department would like to reiterate that it will diligently consider all the comments received, and that recommendations will then be made to the Minister about amending the draft Bill if that is required.

Owing to the unexpectedly large number of submissions that were received, the Department was unfortunately not able to acknowledge receipt of each submission. However, the Department would like to re-assure everyone who submitted comments by email that if they received no error message after sending their email, the Department would in all probability have received their submission.

There was also a substantial number of requests for an extension of the deadline to which the Department was unable to respond to. To those who did not receive a response to their requests for an extension, and to any other individuals and organisations who were unable to submit their comments by the deadline date, we can give assurances that there will be an additional opportunity as is in line with normal policy development processes.

Once the draft Bill has been introduced into Parliament, it will then be referred to the Portfolio Committee on Education. In the course of its consideration of the draft Bill, the Portfolio Committee will, also in line with the normal practice, once again call for comments on the Bill. Moreover, the Portfolio Committee may hold public hearings in keeping with the normal practice.

All individuals and organisations who have missed the deadline for this round of comments will therefore have a further opportunity to provide inputs on the draft Bill once it has been introduced into Parliament.


Internships would spawn ace teachers

Nigel Richard – 27 Oct 2017

Pre-service teacher internships, which use the flexibility of distance learning education qualifications offered by universities such as Unisa and North-West University, place aspiring teachers in primary and secondary schools during their studies. Doing so allows them to spend considerable time as classroom teaching assistants, to receive mentorship from experienced teachers and to build a professional practice integrated with theory of their university coursework.

Continue Reading…

Sustainability depends on a strong governance framework


Sustainability depends on a strong governance framework

(16 April 2015)

Article by Terrance M. Booysen
Corporate governance is one of the key elements many investors consider when they reflect upon the organisation’s success, as well as when deciding upon their investment choices.  But when the organisation’s governance system shows signs of stress or failure, not only do astute investors understand the unsettling impact it has upon the organisation’s supply chain, they also become wary about its sustainability which may give rise to them re-considering to ‘weather the storm’ or ‘bail out’ so to speak.
Over the years so much has been written about failures of corporate governance within organisations, including the financial, social and political consequences which are typically found in its trail.  Yet in spite of numerous regulation to improve the overall conduct of organisations, including the various King Codes of Corporate Governance written in South Africa, even more organisations are becoming affected by poor governance.
Indeed, there are a number of reasons why an organisation may become prone to poor governance and these matters are often fiercely debated in the hope that such occurrences would be avoided, or at best stopped.  But in reality — after the scandalous dust linked with poor governance has settled — people seem to forget these (re-occurring) episodes and somehow the perpetrators seem to escape unscathed and they are not publically brought to book in any meaningful way. The failure of governance of any kind is ultimately the accountability of the board and its directors.  Truthfully there are no bad organisations, only bad boards and it can be just one, or a few directors who may lead the organisation astray.  Through their poor leadership and questionable governance practices immeasurable harm is brought to the organisation, including its exposed stakeholders.  As disgraceful as it may be, even when these brazen individuals are removed from their existing directorship positions after they have been found deficient on their fiduciary duties, they somehow re-appear in different organisations to continue their escapades of greed and destruction.

Why then does poor governance continue to prevail, and what additional measures could assist to improve an increasingly dire situation which costs the South African economy billions of rands in a variety of legal battles, including mediation and arbitration hearings, not least private and out-of-court settlements? For the purpose of addressing this question of repeatedly seeing organisations suffer as a result of poor governance; this article purposely does not focus upon the more typical reasons associated with poor governance practices such as poor leadership, or powerful and greedy directors with selfish motive.  Instead, this article makes a hypothetical case — albeit just for a few minutes — that all leaders are ethical and that they are completely mindful of, and serving their fiduciary duties.  If this were true, why then do so many fail when a ‘post-mortem’ is conducted upon the events that damage, or even destroy an organisation or a director’s career?
Rather surprisingly, there is a more fundamental reason why corporate governance is likely to fail in an organisation.  It occurs when an organisation fails to implement a Corporate Governance Framework® which is designed to connect the many intricate components required for ensuring the organisation’s raison d’ etre and its ultimate success. Through its application, a well thought through framework will also allow an organisation to address the qualitative governance issues, and avoid getting bogged down in the quantitative areas that usually have an adverse result upon the organisation’s bottom-line.   By not having such a framework in place — especially in bigger or more complex organisations — is a sure recipe for inevitable governance failure, albeit of varying degrees.
As with most successful organisations, it is extremely rare that the organisation will not have a vision and mission as part of its core guiding principles which underpin the reason for the organisation’s existence.  Indeed, these organisations are guided by a clear set of key documents which includes its strategy, policies and procedures in order to achieve the organisational goals. Whilst these documents are, amongst other, essential for creating common purpose; in reality it is the organisation’s Corporate Governance Framework® which unifies all the complexities of the organisation’s strategic and operational processes which gives the organisation its ‘athletic form’ and ‘mental agility’.  If directors and the executive management structures are not sufficiently connected to all the vital business components needed in a sustainable organisation, then the governance of the organisation will undoubtedly suffer.  For example, directors and management must have the necessary and sufficient understanding of their respective roles and functions, and there must be clear and distinct lines of accountability or responsibility as would be outlined respectively by the appointment of directors and managers.



In search of educational ‘égalité,’ France revamps secondary schools


French education has been evolving ever more into a case of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’ But finding the solution is proving contentious for educators and parents alike.

By Colette Davison, Correspondent May 30, 2015

Paris — France has long prided itself on being a meritocratic system, where anyone – regardless of background – can get to the top with enough hard work. But for many, France’s education system is still highly elitist.

Children of politicians and business leaders fill the seats of the country’s most prestigious schools with the most competent teachers and, eventually, enter into the country’s top companies and political circles. Meanwhile, kids in the more disenfranchised, outlying suburbs – often children of immigrants with no French at home – are taught by young, inexperienced teachers and find their choices for top schooling limited.

Last week, President François Hollande’s government proposed a series of measures to overhaul the country’s secondary education system – to howls of protest from parents and educators across the country. Key among their complaints are plans to implement greater equality – plans, they argue, that would do just the opposite, and widen the gap between France’s schoolchildren.

“This reform is far from creating equality,” says Albert-Jean Mougin, the national vice-president of the SNALC teacher’s union. “It is only going to cause increasing inequality between various establishments and more teaching ‘ghettos.’ Families who have the means will send their kids to the private system, creating ever more inequality.”

Decreasing equality

Peter Gumbel, a professor of journalism at Sciences Po whose book “They Shoot School Kids, Don’t They” analyzes the shortcomings of the French education system, says that as it stands now, France’s educational system clearly aggravates the discrepancy between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”

“If you grow up in the banlieu, your chances of finishing school are much smaller than if you grow up in [the wealthy suburb of] Neuilly,” says Mr. Gumbel. “And your chances of actually finishing well are even smaller. Therefore, getting access to the grandes ecoles [elite schools] or the top places in French society is getting smaller and smaller.”

In a 2009 study of students by the national statistics office, children of working class fathers had a 53 percent chance of passing the national exam at the end of high school, versus between 85 percent for children of managers or CEOs.

In addition, a 2012 Pisa study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on 15-year-olds showed that the French school system is becoming increasingly unequal, as compared to the US, where the gap is narrowing – even after taking into account America’s expensive private school system.

The Pisa report, which compares international education standards, also showed that 17 percent of French students leave high school without securing a diploma, according to the same study.

Will reforms help?

New Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem says that the government’s reforms, which could come into effect by September 2016, are an attempt to create more equality in the French school system. Changes include a reduction of classroom hours for Classics courses and a one-year postponement of second-language learning.

Under the current system, Ms. Vallaud-Belkacem says, second-language learning is only available to a handful of gifted students. Under her reforms, all students would have the option to take a second language, but one year later.

Vallaud-Belkacem also recognizes that the French school system – with its desks lined up in a row, and focus on lecture and memorization – can be incredibly dull.

Because, as she says, “it’s not fun enough,” part of the reform will make 20 percent of the curriculum “cross-disciplinary,” giving schools more autonomy in how they allocate teaching time.

Teacher’s unions say, however, that giving schools the choice of how they teach will create differences in the education students receive across the system.

“We’re going to see inequality among schools even in the same neighborhood,” says Mr. Mougin. Unions also worry that by reducing foreign language learning, middle schools will be “dumbed down,” and families who can afford to send their children to private schools will do so, to give them a more comprehensive education.

‘Too centralized’

Despite vehement criticism of the government’s newest education reforms, Gumbel says that the education system is and has been in need of an overhaul.

“The real issue is that the system is much too centralized,” he says. “They try to micromanage everything and that just doesn’t work. What they need is to have much more autonomy at a school level and at a district level, like you have in most other countries where things work better.”

Sophie Vayssettes, a Pisa analyst at the OECD, says that some of France’s European neighbors could provide guidance. Finland and Germany have passed successful reforms focusing on teachers: better training, appropriate salaries, and a push towards further schooling.

By contrast, teacher-training programs in France have dwindled since former President Nicolas Sarkozy pushed through his own set of education reforms in 2008.

Gumbel says that attempted reforms by previous governments have accomplished little lasting improvement, owing in part to a constant seat swapping at the education ministry. “Education is not taken seriously as a policy matter,” he says. “They’re not attacking it properly. The Left comes in [to power] and undoes what the Right has done, and vice versa, and the kids end up as guinea pigs.”







Finland is set to embark on a radical overhaul of its education system, scrapping “teaching by subject” and replacing it with “teaching by topic” under a set new measures revealed by Helsinki’s head of youth and adult education Liisa Pohjolainen.


Although long heralded as a model of a successful educational system, with record high rates of literacy and numeracy, Finland have outlined plans to drastically change its education methods, starting in capital city Helsinki.


Amongst a host of changes, there are plans to introduce a programme based around “teaching by topic” rather than the more traditional “teaching by subject” methods, which are already being phased out for 16 year olds in the city.


This change will see subject specific lessons, such as Geography and History, replaced by pupils being taught cross-subject topics, such as the European Union, which would combine aspects of Economics, Geography and Languages.


There will also be changes to the format of lessons, with the traditional, more passive approach being replaced by a more collaborative method of learning. Instead of sitting and listening to the teacher, students will be encouraged to work together to discuss and solve problems.


Unveiling the plans, Liisa Pohjolainen hinted more changes were to come in the future: “This is going to be a big change in education in Finland that we’re just beginning,” she said.


Helsinki’s development manager Pasi Silander also backed the changes: “What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for working life.


“We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society”.


However, some teachers and heads have expressed concerns about ditching long-standing methods, having spent their entire life focussing on a single subject.


To ease the transition, Helsinki’s education manager Marjo Kyllonen has advocated a “co-teaching” approach, where more than one subject specialist is involved in lesson planning. Teachers who adopt this approach will receive a small increase in their salary.


Around 70% of Helsinki’s high school teachers have now been trained in this approach.


According to early reports, the new system is already benefitting Finish students. In the two years since the system started being implemented, pupil “outcomes” – a term preferred to standards – have been on the rise. Ms Kyllonen’s blueprint, which will be published next month, will see these reforms in place across Finland by 2020.


Meanwhile, in the UK, Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt has criticised the “exam factory” approach towards schooling, calling for greater autonomy to be given to teachers and school leaders.




The Telegraph


Top school looks to ban homework

Cheltenham Ladies College reviewing whether to stop homework as youngsters becoming depressed

By Nicola Harley

5 June 2015

One of the UK’s top schools is looking to ban homework to help prevent youngsters from suffering mental health problems.


Cheltenham Ladies College is set to review its homework policy over the next five years to help protect students from suffering depression.


From the new term in September the school is introducing meditation classes and giving students twice as long to walk between classrooms for lessons.


Principal Eve Jardine-Young is considering scrapping homework for pupils in a bid to prevent mental illnesses in their teenage pupils.


She said teachers are being trained to spot signs of depression in youngsters.


Speaking to the Times, she said the school, which she took charge of in 2011, will be reviewing its homework policy over the next five years.


“We will have to look at how we are doing things,” she said.


“Will we even be doing prep?


“What we have been reflecting on in the last few years are the big national trends and international trends in the worsening states of adolescent mental health.


“We’ve created this epidemic of anxiety for ourselves as a society, and if our obligation as educators is to try to the best of our ability to set young people up as best we can for whatever the future may hold, then to ignore this whole area or to trivialise it is really irresponsible.”


She said one alternative might be to allow pupils to study material prior to lessons.



Published Online: April 14, 2015

Withholding Recess as a Punishment Declines

As schools move to ban restrictions on playtime, some teachers resist losing discretion over discipline

By Evie Blad

It’s not uncommon for elementary school teachers to take away recess time to discipline students. Withholding cherished playtime clearly communicates to children that their misbehavior is unacceptable, they argue.

But more and more, schools are doing away with withholding recess for disciplinary reasons, pointing to research findings that unstructured play and exercise benefit students both inside and outside the classroom.

“That physical activity and unstructured play, those things are not luxuries for kids,” said Sara Zimmerman, the technical-assistance director of the Oakland, Calif.-based Safe Routes to School National Partnership, which advocates increased physical activity for students. “That’s a key part of how kids learn and how they grow.”

Schools around the country have implemented policies that limit or eliminate teachers’ ability to take away recess time, their efforts bolstered by district policies and state laws that place renewed emphasis on physical activity and by increased public involvement in the creation of district wellness policies.

In Minnesota, for example, lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit schools from withholding recess time as a form of punishment. A separate bill in that state would require schools to set clear policies on how much recess time they provide to students and to publish those policies online.

At least 11 states have similar prohibitions, according to the Reston, Va.-based National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

In a 2013 analysis of wellness policies in more than 600 school districts around the country, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that 68 percent of elementary schools had no policy in place prohibiting the use of withholding of physical activity as a form of discipline during the 2010-11 school year. That’s a decline from 79 percent in 2006-07.

Supporters of those changes say it’s counterproductive to punish defiant or overly active children by taking away the “time to get their wiggles out,” and that recess is often withheld for unrelated behaviors, like incomplete homework.

Free time also supports students’ cognitive functioning by giving them a “reset button” for their brain, researchers have found.

Kaden Livingston, 8, plays during recess at Patterson International Elementary School in Lakewood, Colo., last week. Research shows children are more engaged in the classroom when they have a break for playtime.

And districts that have made the policy switch say recess gives children a chance to explore social and emotional concepts that are increasingly emphasized in the classroom—like self-awareness and respect for others.

National Momentum

“A lot of times the kids who lose physical activity are the ones who need it most,” said Emily O’Winter, the wellness coordinator for Jefferson County schools in Colorado. “It can have a snowball effect.”

The 85,000-student district leaves it up to its schools to decide if recess can be withheld, Ms. O’Winter said. Many follow a model school wellness policy promoted by the district that recommends not allowing such discipline, she said.

The push for change gained momentum nationally in 2012, when the American Academy of Pediatrics released a position paper saying recess “should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.”

“A growing trend toward reallocating time in school to accentuate the more academic subjects has put this important facet of a child’s school day at risk,” that paper said.

“Recess serves as a necessary break from the rigors of concentrated, academic challenges in the classroom,” the paper continued. “But equally important is the fact that safe and well-supervised recess offers cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits that may not be fully appreciated when a decision is made to diminish it. Recess is unique from, and a complement to, physical education—not a substitute for it.”

After reviewing existing research, the American Academy of Pediatrics found that many schools had lessened recess time to comply with increased academic demands, and that children attending high-poverty and urban schools are less likely than their peers in middle- and upper-income schools to receive adequate playtime.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all elementary school students get at least 20 minutes of recess time each day.

Child-health advocates fear schools have used the implementation of new, more rigorous learning expectations, such as the Common Core State Standards, as justification for reducing the amount of time for physical activity students have during the school day.

“We have the science that shows the importance of moving throughout the day and the impact that can have on focus, concentration, and academic performance, but, increasingly, we’re having kids sit for long stretches of the day,” said Laurie Whitsel, the director of policy research at the American Heart Association.

That organization and others promote research that shows the academic and emotional benefits of recess, alongside data about child obesity and fitness.

When schools limit children’s time for play, “it’s deleterious for their health, and it’s also bad for their academic performance,” Ms. Whitsel said.

“They’re kind of shooting themselves in the foot.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics position paper highlights research that shows young students have improved literacy scores and better cognitive functioning when they get breaks for physical activity.

Researchers have also found school climate and social-emotional benefits.

Researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Denver found in a 2014 study that 6-year-olds who spent more time in unstructured play showed more signs of strong executive functioning and decision-making skills. Those skills are supportive of strong social relationships, which researchers have linked to academic success throughout a student’s school career.

Champions of child exercise expect more schools to consider revising their policies related to physical activity, including recess, as they upgrade school wellness plans to comply with the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Since 2004, all schools that participate in the National School Lunch program have been required to have wellness plans that outline how they handle student nutrition and physical education.

That requirement was updated under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act to add more chances for public participation and transparency in crafting and updating wellness plans. A proposed rule, drafted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to comply with the act, is expected to be finalized soon.

Teacher Resistance

Model school wellness policies drafted by several advocacy organizations include prohibitions on withholding physical activity for disciplinary reasons. Supporters hope that increased input from parents will lead schools to adopt that recommendation.

Such input has already influenced many communities.

In New Haven, Conn., for example, district leaders updated their policies to provide a minimum amount of required recess time and a rule against using recess for discipline after parents spoke up.

But, even as parents have pushed for such changes, some teachers have resisted them.

Eliminating restrictions on recess come as many schools are implementing other changes to their discipline policies to reduce the use of suspensions and other forms of exclusionary discipline.

When parents in Berkeley, Calif., pushed for a policy to eliminate withholding recess last year, teachers pushed back.

There are times when taking away recess time “is the logical and natural response to behavior,” Cathy Campbell, the president of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, told the school board at a November meeting.

“We don’t want it to be impossible for teachers to use this tool,” she said, “because there are times when it is absolutely the right tool.”

The board eventually passed a policy that maintains the ability of teachers to restrict recess time for a maximum of 10 minutes per day after first considering other disciplinary alternatives and providing a verbal warning.

Ms. O’Winter of the Jefferson County district said she understands that some schools may be reluctant to take a discipline option off the table.

But “there’s a growing understanding that it’s damaging to withhold physical activity from children, for disciplinary reasons or for makeup work,” she said.

After the USDA finalizes its new regulations for school wellness plans, she hopes to update Jefferson County’s plan, possibly considering a ban on withholding recess in the process.

“I see it,” she said, “as an opportunity for a big change.”

Coverage of school climate and student behavior and engagement is supported in part by grants from the Atlantic Philanthropies, the NoVo Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, and the California Endowment. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.