Skills development money starts flowing 14

I think it is an absolute tragedy that our schools are letting us down to such an extent that children have to be re-taught the basics in order to enter not only institutions of higher learning, but FET colleges as well. Out of every 20 young people tested for the National Certificate Vocational (NCV) readiness at level 2 (post Grade 9), at least 3 out of every 5 are not at the appropriate mathematics or language proficiency level! These young people have to be re-trained so that they are not set up for failure, not only wasting valuable time but also money. Since the bursaries are only paid out if the student passes, colleges can no longer register just anyone who is interested in studying further, but have to ensure that they are at the appropriate level and stand a good chance of passing.

We need not view this as being particular to South Africa. I have just returned from a visit to London and the fact that so few young people have passed the GSE exam, made headline news there. The complaint was that young people can no longer read, write or do sums. This is a sad situation indeed and hopefully education systems worldwide will take a wakeup call and realise that we are raising a whole generation of dummies. I believe it is time that we returned to basics – and that means teaching children to read, write and do arithmetic. Time for creativity comes when the foundations are there.

In the meantime, I support the initiatives of the Setas to fund mathematics and language bridging programmes to enable our young people to support the principles of lifelong learning.

Catherine Robertson

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14 thoughts on “Skills development money starts flowing

  • Andrew Chinake

    I repeat,what is most important is that the children must be empowered in order for them to be prepared for the real working and academic world.More emphasis should be placed on empowering the infants and juniors at primary level….so that they would become less of burdens to the matric teachers who have higher responsibilties ,including shouldering the blame for the failure of these kids……..or ,the system.All stakeholders must be made to come to the party.The reality is that there is too much experimentation with the future of these kids in the name of ‘policy’ or ‘system’.I advocate for functionality and a process that would enable the children to make it after school.

  • Kgatelopele Makua

    You touched me Dikeledi

    I’m fired

    There is no system without people if it’s the people who create systems then it’s up to them to make the system work. The old systems had its challenges and we didn’t have a problem to find more effective ways that enabled us to thrive then but why now, we are morning that’s why we would get more reasons to morn and stuck on simple staff.

    OBE is just a stimuli to activate our creativity it is so open and wide you can play many concepts around it, you just have to revisit you creative corner; challenge is we are so stereotype, we want to operate like robots we only want to do things the way they have been done by those who have been doing it, no innovation, no creativity spice nothing we are so dull and starched.

    OBE is a challenge that needs thinkers to come forward and integrate their concepts and get going. We can build something more effective out of this OBE. You just need your creativity and you and I and everybody we were all born with this element but remember what you don’ t often use becomes weaker just like the hand you not often use, to do heavy staff that hand becomes weaker and weaker.

  • Mashiane Dikeledi

    As an ex- foundatin phase head of department I wish to echo my understanding of OBE. According to my understanding I don’t blame the outcomes based eduction system but it is sad to see our teachers not applying their creative mind to ensure that individual learner is taught according to his or her individual capability regardless overcrowding of classes. Iused to encourage educators to use all possible teaching methods that they acquired throughout their years of experience.

    Intergration of different types of method including the old system method of teaching could benefit our children. I had a team of old teachers who were so good but the challenge came when they ere to intergrate both the old and new. I started to challenge ho the concept CHANGE , and how it has been dealt with at our schools.

    Resistance to change by different stakeholders has an impact towards our learners and the learning process as a whole. Therfore I will conclude by saying lets not blame OBE system but introspect ourselves and apply the apprach with an open mind.

  • Andrew Chinake

    As a training and educational practitioner,I would like to highlight a few things.
    Firstly there is a misplaced emphasis on improving the Matric pass rate in South Africa while ignoring the core tenets of reading,writing and calculation at the earlier stages of education.I have taught in the high schools here in South Africa and I can tell you that most of those graduating from primary school to high school are functionally not very literate.

    The second issue is about the OBE itself.The pass mark is 30% but you must have gained up to 25% from cumulative assessment,ie,exercises,assignments and other coursework.This is a systematic promotion of mediocrity,to say the least.

    Now these spoon-fed matriculants also want to go and acquire a degree at a university when no one actually made them aware of the demands that lie ahead nor made them to prepare for it.I personally feel that before we teach these children anything….we must teach them the will to learn,inculcate a culture of academic discipline and most importantly,as the writer has alluded to,start from where it starts otherwise we are setting up these children for failure and frustration.

  • Enid Mullin

    Another thought – dont blame OBE, blame the way it has been implemented. Surely “doing sums” and “spelling” is a possible Outcome? But if a child fails to acheive an Outcome, and then is simply allowed to move on to the next topic, what’s the point?

  • Enid Mullin

    Having taught Mathemetics in schools for 10 years, and privately for 20, I believe the fundamental problem lies in our school system where children are passed from grade to grade on overall average, not individual subject. A credit system, where you could move on to, say Languages2 and History2, but repeat Maths1 (and not be allowed into Maths2 until Maths1 is passed), would be far more effective, not to say logical. How can you understand algebraic fractions, say, when you never came to grips with ordinary fractions in primary school? Maths particularly is a subject where each idea rests on previous ones.

    Such a system could be easily implemented if our schools were equipped for CBT delivery (roll on the future!) You could then easily run a class where 20 children are simultaneously studying different topics. I have been doing this for years, with great results. The teacher then becomes a mentor and helper, not a dragon.

    Another plus of such a system would be to minimise the stigma of failure. A child who passes overall but repeats maths will accept it far more readily than one who has to repeat a full year. it would also reduce boredom!

  • Nkosinathi Mkhize

    The discussion under way is gaining momentum. Whereas I agree with a number of commentaries, I tend to differ with others, maybe I need to be schooled in this regard. My understanding is that the subject matter was raised for all to engage objectivelly and shape the future going forward. We need not turn this platform to a blanket attack on the OBE system of education. I am not an expert on pedagogics and / or didactics, but the reasoning behind the OBE is good. If you critique the OBE curriculum, you will note that it is more practical and outcomes lead. I am from the old school. If I was part of the OBE system probably I would not be where I am today, but far. It is also not factual correct to suggest that all the pre 1994 basic education graduates can spell and / or count better than all post 1994 graduates, this is a fallacy. This forum is for us to critique the realities of our time and not to create optical and pyschological illussions, otherwise history will judge us harshly. I think the critical analyses offered by the universe is brilliant and will help us in the skills development arena to reposition the landscape for the benefit of the masses and the country. Lets keep the spirit rolling…

  • Kgatelopele Makua

    Greetings to all.

    This is so interesting.

    We have to acknowledge that technology is here and it’s doing things for humans there is no longer a need to memorize spelling like before and everyone uses phones’ calculator for counting their friends when issuing drinks in house parties, computers issue out spellings etc.

    I think evolution is taking place; people liken us will have to learn to understand the new level of literacy that we approaching, your level and understanding of literacy are soon getting out of the system. Your education that say: “2moro suppose to be written like this: ‘tomorrow’ it is out now; literacy is now going to be about how accurate you can understand someone’s way of expressing themselves, your literacy and grammatical rules will fade.

    New literacy and grammar rules will be in place, ours now is to anticipate how we are going to bring our input into this new systems, there is going to be rules no matter what, just like the rules that we know about literacy and grammar although not sure how did this old rules come into work up to a level that we worship them so much.

    Our kind of class room and text book education is no longer interesting and it is tired. If you look it is mainly about ‘dos and don’ts’ and memorization. We need to be open minded enough to allow evolution to take its course, this is the moment of recreating the world and its education and gearing it up for creativity; where we would able to make a space for every learner to come forward and teach us who they are what they are here to offer rather than to tell the learner who they are and what to be and what to learn.

    And enable them to become all that they demonstrate to be here to serve rather than foisting our kind of education that say: “memorization is knowledge” the knowledge that you view as power and the key to success and getting them to keep repeating things according to how we were programmed to believe that as the right way of doing things and keep insisting the progression of industrialized modern slaves supplying chain’s careers.

    Technology will always do the right thing that we were programmed to know as the right spelling and calculations, while they will be learning to unleash the unknowns within them. Our expired kind of education was and it is still about promoting the repetition of the known reputation stuff which influences common thinking.

    You see we all study the same mathematics and many other studies.

    And we all have to muster it in the same higher level and there we go now we are stuck on doing the same thing copying and repeating the same thing no body is ready to create something fresh, something never seen before, what has been created by Hendry Ford and others will keep circulating and that will be the one and the last thing we ever created what we’ll do is: we’ll train ourselves to think like Hendry Ford and repeat the same thing all the way until the environment gets tired of what the cars does to it.

    This is the moment to be creative and find ways to face the new world that is coming. Lets not stuck into our comfort zones and want things to go on and on like the way we were taught. This is change and change is never cool it’s just like the August windy month of transcendence were every tree is vigorously denuded its dry leaves for new leaves to come. We need to be creative and advance our approach towards this generation of dummies that simply reduce your education into sewage water.

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    Looking at the “drop-out” statistics, some questions occur to me regarding home-schooling. Are these children included in the statistics? What statistics are there on home-schooling? Has the number of children being home-schooled increased? What is the pass rate for home-schooling? Do any of our skills-universe members have information on this subject?

  • simphiwe ngubeni

    I think it is about time that we get back to the basics of teaching and learning. I also blame the OBE system for failing to encourage pupils to spell and do sums like we use to before 1994. The education system is just a disaster. Teachers nowadays do not give a damn about their pupils/students’ future. Everyone is blaming someone else. Even the minister cannot explain why the matric passing rate is dropping instead of escalating.

  • Nompumelelo Promise Mokhine

    I am glad that the SETAs are going to fund Mathematics and language bridging programmes as I have seen so many matriculants struggling with the two learning areas. I am involved with the grade 12 improvement programme whereby we work with the department of education to offer extra classes for matriculants during school holidays but I still feel that the programme should be run throughout the year so that it sinks well and learners are taken off the street , and it will also be a way of fighting drug abuse and teenage pregnancy amongst our youth. It is high time that they work hard and stop blaming others e.g. educators or parents for their failure.I was really disappointed one day when a matriculant could not write a million in a digit form. It is high time , we work towards changing the mindset of our youth, and let them say ” I am responsible for my own learning and success, others are there to support me”.

  • Nkosinathi Mkhize

    I support the views shared, personally. I think what the Ministry of basic education should do in details, is to analyze, whether or not, the calibre of educators we have in the schools, more especially those having a dismal failure rate is up to the challenge. The findings will then inform the change management intervention to be implemented. It is not acceptable that whereas we are investing so much resources in research on the scarce and critical skills, development of appropriate qualifications and training programmes, we do not have a feeder system to deliver the appropriate candidates with neccessary prerequisites. The partnerships mooted between the SETAs and other institutions of basic and higher learning is highly recommendable and should be fast tracked. The SETA Summit confirmed a need for SETAs to collaborate and or create a synergy amongst themselves and what they do, therefore whereas there are SETAs who have already started these partnerships whereat they fund the provision of extra lessons on critical technical subjects, this initiative must be adopted and implemented by all. The challenges in basic education are challenges for us all patriotic citizens, not only the Minister, her Ministry or government. MY OWN VIEWS.

  • Tim Madgwick

    Hi Catherine,

    We see this problem when recruiting young engineers, computers are a double edged sword as they have made us lazy. We need to get back to the basic principals of maths, science and writing. Many young graduates can not compile a business letter or report and use texting or email grammar. These are often legal documents so must be succinct and factual. The answer lies in the education system, just perhaps those of us who are the other side of 50 did not receive a bad education prior to computers and technology. We need to go back to the basics of teaching, I agree that we must have a solid foundation to build on.


  • Andrew Carlsson

    I agree with the above comment, but there is always an alternative educational programme to FET and HET, and that is the private programmes offered by many accredited private providers and certificated through the SETAs. These programmes are more work related and will lead to the obtaining of a skill required. The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers – – have four bookkeeping/accounting qualifications ranging from NQF 3 through to NQF 6, as well as three Office Administration qualifications at NQF 5 and 6 and a Small Business Financial Management qualification at NQF 4. These programmes are offered through a host of private providers and some public FET providers.