Newspaper clipping – The Mercury – 26 November 2008

OBE to stay, but with changes


OUTCOMES-BASED education (OBE) is here to stay, although changes to the education system can be expected.

This is the message of KwaZulu-Natal finance MEC Zweli Mkhize, head of the sub-committee on education for the ANC. Mkhize said the ANC did not plan to do away with OBE, although the party would be open to discussion on the strength and weaknesses.

Despite numerous calls yesterday, Mkhize did not answer his phone to explain what these education changes would be. Sources in the education sector did indicate, however, that the ANC’s national executive committee, at its weekend meeting, discussed whether OBE would be done away with. South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) spokesman Ronald Nyathi said discussions centered on whether OBE should be a central part to the ANC’s election manifesto. ANC spokesman Carl Niehaus said the contents of the party’s election manifesto were still in the process of being formed and no formal decision had yet been made on what would be included.

Last week the ANC released a report, called the Education Roadmap, which indicated that there were numerous problems in the education system that needed attention, with a recommendation by education experts that OBE be scrapped. Just last month, former University of Cape Town vice-chancellor and World Bank director Mamphele Ramphele said OBE had “failed our children”. Her comments set the stage for public debate on the schooling system that is set to continue for months to come.

Sadtu general secretary Thulas Nxesi said he did not know what changes were on the cards for the ANC, but the union had specifically called for more resources, smaller class sizes, better development of teachers and a major review of the system, which would include strengthening areas that work at the moment.

Ezra Ramashela, president of the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa, said he did not believe it would be possible to throw away the entire OBE curriculum, but rather to make changes to the areas where there were serious challenges.
“The notion of dumping OBE won’t work. We have put too much money and resources into it,” he said.
“And if we change it, what would we change it to? We have huge concerns in education that need to be urgently addressed and that is what we need to look at,” said Ramashela.