For those who are in-the-know on issues surrounding South African education, you would’ve seen that Nick Taylor (ex-JET and now head of NEEDU) has recently published the first of the NEEDU reports (summarized report here). The GIF above made me think what it must’ve been like researching and writing this report – kudos to Nick & Co! I have now finished the report and these are some of the things that stand out for me:
- I completely agree with Nick where he says “the quality of teaching and learning is best measured through direct outcomes of learning” – obvious but important to say.
- I’m glad Nick has chosen to focus on the Foundation Phase and getting the basics of numeracy and literacy right (see this M&G article).
- I’m also happy that one of the main findings is that teachers often don’t have the competence / subject knowledge to teach and also that the various levels of the bureaucracy are incompetent.
- It was still based on school visits in 15 districts – there are 86 in South Africa. So it is possible that there are some issues we are missing which are more prominent in some other districts. Also they specifically chose to select districts “from areas of high population inflow” – basically only urban areas, so the validity of the findings for rural areas is sketchy – something which he says on page 5 of the summary report. As I undertand it the next NEEDU report will be for rural areas – great stuff!
- I’m a little irritated with Angie and her speech to parliament – so much talk about monitoring and evaluation (she even ends her speech talking about it) but then allocates R14mil to NEEDU?!
All in all I think NEEDU is a much needed (and underfunded) evaluation arm of the DBE and this first report is a great start to understanding the binding constraints to education in South Africa.