Updated plan for schools in South Africa to catch up lost teaching time – including changes to subjects

 ·3 Sep 2021

The Department of Basic Education has developed a three-year recovery plan to help make up for teaching time lost during the Covid-19 pandemic, says minister Angie Motshekga.

Responding in a written parliamentary Q&A this week, Motshekga said that the Recovery Annual Teaching Plan accounts for each subject in each grade and will help guide teachers to focus on key concepts, content, and skills to be taught per subject over the next three year period.

“The curriculum statement for each grade and subject was evaluated by a panel of curriculum content experts, and the content was reduced to ensure that only the core concepts, knowledge and skills are taught for each subject and grade.

“It is anticipated that over the next three years, learners would have covered the core content in the subject, and the curriculum statement, post the three year period, would be reviewed to take learners forward in their learning process,” she said.

Motshekga said that the three-year recovery period is tentative at this stage and could be extended if necessary based on the findings from the continuous research, monitoring and support provided by the department to schools.

Teachers will have to use their own judgement

While the department has developed guidelines for fundamental content that teachers must prioritise, Motshekga said that the variation in teaching time across the schools means that there is now a higher dependence on teachers using their own professional judgment.

“Teachers are provided with a planner and tracker, which lists the reduced content to be covered in the week, and teachers must record coverage to ensure that every teacher has a record of curriculum coverage, per grade, which will be transferred to the next teacher,” she said.

“This will ensure continuity from one grade to the next,” she said.

Motshekga said that plans to reduce the impact of future disruptions must be agile and should consider schools on an individual basis.

“In accommodating the various school contexts, much is left to the teacher’s professional judgment and expertise.

“Hence, teacher development, training and support is now more crucial capacitating the teacher to manage his/her classroom context.”

A new strategy and different weightings

Motshekga said that the plan also incorporates ‘assessment for learning’  as a teaching strategy.

“This implies that the teacher not only assesses at the end of the learning process to make a judgment on the learning gains but assess the learner on a continuous basis during the learning process to support the learning process.”

Assessment weightings in Grades 4-11 have also been adjusted to ensure optimal time for teaching and learning, she said.

“The key tenet of the strategy is to reduce the curriculum to focus on key concepts, skills and knowledge that are essential for deeper learning and the development of cognitive skills that will promote creative thinking, problem-solving and effective communication.”

Read: New online school launches in South Africa

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