The Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDE) is working hard to shed its underperformance status by introducing an initiative that aims to provide sustained and targeted interventions to ensure schools improve their marks.
The Learner Attainment Improvement Strategy (LAIS) programme seeks to enhance the delivery of quality classroom instructions.
Over the past few years, the province has been rooted at the bottom when it comes to the annual National Senior Certificate results. Although other provinces such as Limpopo and Mpumalanga also fared badly, the Eastern Cape has struggled to shift from the 9th spot.
This chronic poor performance has been attributed to a range of deep-seated problems such as poor curriculum delivery, weak administration and poor financial mismanagement.
So severe were the problems Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga had to dispatch a team of experts to intervene as she also placed the department under partial administration.
But according to the ECDE’s top officials, the situation is set to change for the better as they identified key problems that have hampered effective curriculum delivery. Last year, the province attained a 65% pass rate, compared to 59.3% in 2016.
According to Dr Soyisile Nuku, one of the senior officials driving the programme, they want to maintain the upward trajectory. He said the purpose of the programme is to primarily strengthen teaching and learning at school level on a daily basis. He said provision of morning, afternoon and vacation classes will be central to the programme.
Nuku said they aimed to improve the 2018 Class pass rate by at least 5% and with LAIS they are confident they would achieve this target. He said the programme was targeted at the whole school system covering all grades in the General Education and Training band but with the emphasis on the grade 12 class.
Nuku said they were looking at improving numeracy and literacy Foundation Phase while also introducing effective ways of teaching subjects such as maths, science and accounting at higher grades.
Commenting on their matric pass rate last month, Education MEC, Mandla Makupula sounded elated even though they were still at the bottom, saying overall they were the most improved province.
“The number of Bachelor passes increased from 19 percent in 2016 to 23 percent in 2017. This phenomenal improvement to the previous year as the portion of learners obtaining a Bachelor pass has never surpassed 20 percent since 2014,” said Makupula.
He added that a number of learners who passed with distinction have also increased from 2.1% in 2016 to 2.7 in 2017.
Makupula echoed Nuku’s sentiments saying his department would provide the services of trained tutors and study materials to assist learners who lagged behind in any learning area.
He said it was a national programme that has been tailored to fit the specific needs of the Eastern Cape.
“In the Eastern Cape we place emphasis on the following areas amongst others, numeracy and literacy for the foundation phase, focus on certain subjects, your high enrolment subjects; your maths, science, accounting, agriculture because these are subjects that are very important for the province. We’re placing emphasis on these subjects.”