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Baffling curriculum dropped

SOUTH AFRICA

THE government will dump one of its central post-apartheid school policies after a "warts and all" investigation concluded that Curriculum 2005 is too complex for most teachers to use and neglects the three Rs.

The education department looks likely to phase in a new curriculum that retains outcomes-based education - the key element of Curriculum 2005 - but will stress basic reading, maths and science for the first 10 years of schooling.

The number of subjects will drop from eight to six and teachers will be given clear syllabus guidelines and textbooks.

Curriculum 2005 is "over-

designed and under-specified", said Professor Johan Muller, a member of a 10-person curriculum review team appointed by education minister Kader Asmal.

Intended to improve education for millions of disadvantaged pupils, the curriculum was having the opposite effect.

Teachers in poor schools had neither the qualifications nor the resources to design their own content, and floundered without the support of textbooks.

Teachers in more privileged schools adopted the best of i while quietly continuing to teach reading, writing and arithmetic in traditional ways.

A Curriculum 2005 review team, which is half-way through being phased into schools, was appointed by Professor Asmal in February. Chaired by the University of Natal's Professor Linda Chisholm, it conducted an exhaustive countryide investigation.

The team found "overwhelming support" for outcomes-based education, but the implementation of Curriculum 2005 had been confounded by "skewed structure and design", inadequate teacher training, lack of good quality support materials, policy overload, and shortages of staff and resources.

The review also found that the curriculum was too complex, used confusing language and introduced too many subjects at primary and lower secondary levels.

To tackle these problems, the team proposed a "streamlined curriculum with better resources and training". It recommended a national curriculum statement "written in clear language" that would retain 12 critical outcomes but scrap 66 specific outcomes and other complex assessment and performance measures.

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