“Funding is always a challenge, what that means is that you and I [should]begin to say, 'money or no money we must develop', and see how we can get our heads together and begin to shape-up and develop even without money coming from the province, because it appears that resources will never be enough,” said Amos Fetsha, Grahamstown District Director of the Department of Education, during a Learner Attainment Improvement Strategy (LAIS) Summit held at the City Hall on Wednesday.
The summit was attended by stakeholders including non-governmental organisations, teacher unions, learners and educators. Fetsha told the audience that the summit was a sequel of many deliberations at provincial level.
“A week ago, we were instructed in a meeting that all districts must urgently hold LAIS summits. These summits will serve as a build-up to a provincial summit which would take place in two weeks,” said Fetsha.
He said that since 2001, the province has been checking its performance, particularly its matric performance. “The department developed a program called the Matric Intervention Programme (MIP), a programme that had particular focus on atrics and poured all efforts at matric level.”
He added, that the department realised that matric is the end product; it is an exit point of the schooling period in a learners life. “It began to surface that no matter how much effort we put in at matric level, the results were improving minimally or not at all, and that there was a need to look at the entire schooling system.
We agreed, as the Department, that schooling should start from Grade R to Grade 12.” “It was wrong for us to focus and exhaust all our resources and energies only at the end in Grade 12,” explained Fetsha.
“Then there came a concept called the Learner Attainment Improvement Strategy.” Fetsha explained that the strategy focused on Grade R through to Grade 12, and that the summit begins to continue to look at the process.
“Two years ago, we held a summit where we invited stakeholders to participate in the LAIS, and recommendations were made from this district that served as an input to cluster and provincial summit,” he said. Participants were divided into commissions that looked at five critical issues that include reflections on LAIS 2010, monitoring teaching and learning, strengthening learner outcomes, strengthening Quality Teaching and Learning Campaign (QTLC) implementation, and an Integrated Human Resources Development Strategy.
Fetsha also revealed that the reports which were coming in from schools, showed that schools were doing well with the syllabus coverage. But, when they sat down, they found that although the syllabus had been covered, effective learning had not taken place. He said the other concern was around learner/teacher attendance.
“There seems to be a correlation between the performance of a school and the attendance of both the learners and educators in that particular school,” said Fetsha. “When we looked at the performance of learners we found out that our learners are not performing well even in their mother tongue at the foundation level,” he said.
The summit was scheduled to last for the whole day, but it was cut short before lunch because of the double booking of the hall. It was decided that the plenary would be held on Monday in the district office of the Department of Education.