Newspaper clipping – The Pretoria News – 16 May 2008

Teachers going under the spotlight

By Siyabonga Mkhwananzi and Sapa

Education Minister Naledi Pandor will soon table draft legislation in parliament paving the way for the establishment of an inspectorate to evaluate the performance of teachers.

Delivering her department’s budget vote in the national assembly on Thursday, Pandor said the formation of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit would help ensure that teachers deliver quality education.

The inspectorate tradition had been abandoned 24 years ago. “We plan to begin with a small cohort of evaluators this year and prepare draft legislation to create an agency or institute that will be mandated to develop expertise in education evaluation and development,” Pandor said.

The minister was optimistic the legislation would be passed before parliament adjourns.

Education Director-General Duncan Hindle said the model was in an advanced state. “It (the inspectorate) will be responsible for making sure that teachers do what they are supposed to do,” said Hindle.
He said the inspectorate would be different from the one that existed during the apartheid era. “The new thing is that for the first time pupil performance will count as teacher performance,” said Hindle, adding that this was part of the Occupation Specific Dispensation – a system that would also create a new salary structure for teachers.

Hindle said he hoped that the draft legislation would be ready for tabling soon.

Meanwhile, Pandor announced that technical high schools are to be revamped to counter the high school drop-out rate. She said the recent report of the committee on school retention indicated South Africa had achieved universal access to primary schooling and near universal access to schooling up to the age of 15.
“I am, however, concerned at the finding that there is a sharp drop in numbers after Grade 9 and 10. If we are to change lives, we must keep young people in school longer and engage them more productively,” she said.
“One of the ways in which we plan to do this is to revolutionize a sub-sector that we rarely refer to in our deliberations.”

Pandor said she intended to begin a process of renewal, expansion and modernization for technical high schools. There are over 100 of these institutions and a focused investment in them could lead to critical growth of skills needed in technical and artisan fields.
A review process had been started to lay the basis for further development of the institutions. “It is vital that we develop a broader view of education. We will change the lives of our youth by creating new opportunities and by responding to their different abilities,” she said.