THE DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION (DBE) CIRCULAR S1 OF 2017; GUIDELINES TO STRENGTHEN SECTION 4 OF THE CURRICULUM AND ASSESSMENT POLICY STATEMENT, GRADES R-11
NAPTOSA’s POSITION ON THE ABOVE
The circular and guideline documents were issued earlier this week. NAPTOSA believes that it is important that members understand the possible implications of these documents and therefore wishes to highlight the following issues.
Whilst NAPTOSA representatives participated in various forums (TDCM, CAPS Review Task Team and National and Provincial Subject Committees) where the need to make changes to Section 4 of the CAPS documents (this section deals with assessment in the relevant subject) were discussed, no definitive agreements on the required revisions were reached.
As NAPTOSA we wish to challenge the false claim that is made in S1 of 2017(attached), which states:
“6. In order to strengthen classroom implementation of Section 4 of the CAPS, guidelines to address some of the concerns have been developed for both the General Education and Training (GET) and Further Education and Training (FET) phases. Inputs and recommendations were obtained from the Teacher Development and Curriculum Management (TDCM) members, the CAPS Task Team, National Subject Committees and Provincial/District Subject Specialists.”
Please note the following:
- Although unions are part of “Review Task Team”, the contents of this circular were NEVER tabled at any task team meeting or at TDCMC;
- The Subject committees referred to comprises DBE and PED officials (many who have NOT taught CAPS or seen the inside of classrooms in years) - also not all unions were present at these meetings;
- There was no consultation with or input sought from educators, the very people who are implementing CAPS in their classrooms, and who are directly affected by these changes.
- The DBE also states that it received inputs between 30 January 2017 and 16 February 2017. The circular was signed on 9 March 2017. No NAPTOSA representative participated in any collaborative process between the 16th of February 2017 and the finalisation of the circular on 9 March 2017.
Calling this document a "guideline" document is misleading because SA-SAMs has already been amended in line with the supposed “guidelines”. Herein lies the problem. Our concern is that because it is a guideline, Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) will attach their own interpretations to the circular. This will prove contrary to the claim made by the Department of Basic Education that there will be uniformity of CAPS implementation in all the provinces.
NAPTOSA notes that a further contentious point is paragraph 8 of the circular which states that the guidelines are meant to strengthen CAPS implementation.
We suggest that contents of the ‘Guideline’ documents do not support this claim (GET and FET). For example it is stated that 100% of the assessment in Grade R will be ‘formative’ and ‘integrated’. Do Grade R teachers and district officials understand what is meant by ‘formative/integrated’ assessment? It is not enough to assume that there will be a shared understanding of terminology that is so carelessly tossed about in a document like this. Observable trends in the Grade R classroom suggest that we are moving further and further away from what constitutes a developmentally appropriate practice in the pre-school. For instance, more and more worksheets are being done in Grade R. When are we ever going to allow our children to be children?
Furthermore, NAPTOSA questions how, by just reducing the NUMBER of assessment tasks for each subject in the Foundation Phase, it ‘strengthens’ CAPS implementation when the problem was never about the NUMBER of assessment TASKS according to policy but the INTERPRETATION of what an assessment task is? There is view that one assessment task equates to four or five activities. NAPTOSA questions where this view emanates from?
A further example of divergence in the Circular will arise in the FET English Home Language changes where the time allocated to the paper three exams in Grade 10 and 11 has been extended to three hours. Whilst more time to write these papers may be perceived as a blessing, the omission of actual detail on the corresponding word count for the pieces written in these exams is ignored in these ‘changes’.
NAPTOSA urges members to keep us informed of how these ‘guidelines’ are disseminated and implemented in your provinces, and alert NAPTOSA provincial offices to any problems or concerns that you may experience.
NAPTOSA, together with other Unions, wishes to conclude on the entire Assessment and CAPS review saga as soon as possible. The Unions are engaging the DBE with a view to bring about stability to the Assessment Framework in our schools.
To NAPTOSA, such piece-meal, unregulated, questionable adjustments to policy are simply unacceptable.
End of Communiqué
Mr Basil Manuel Mr Nkosiphendule Ntantala
Executive Director President