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Primary & Secondary Education news

Textbooks not present in schools, report finds

6 Dec 2013 10:49
Last week the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF), which acts as the national office for mathematics in SA, released an informal report on the mathematics textbooks available to support the implementation of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) in the Foundation Phase (FP).
The report, commissioned by the Advisory Committee on Mathematics (ACM), reveals that textbooks, which are proposed as a primary teaching resource to be supplemented by the national workbooks, are not present in schools.

Ingrid Sapire, a research project co-ordinator at the University of the Witwatersrand, one of the writers, said that teachers and learners at the FP level in South African schools would benefit from the provision of high-quality textbooks. "Such books would enable teachers to spend more time on task (teaching) rather than spending time developing material, a function most teachers are ill-equipped to carry out."

According to Sapire, textbooks could provide a full year of teaching resources that offer adequate pacing, varied and rich content, and appropriate methodology, practice and exercises.

"Another issue for consideration in relation to materials provision in the FP is that of a multilingual approach," she added. "Such an approach would endorse the current language policy in supporting all of the national languages of South Africa whilst at the same time promoting improved opportunities for learning."

Lack of good-quality materials

The report further reveals that learners and teachers in the FP in South African schools are often faced with a dilemma in mathematics classes as a result of multiple languages present in their classes, due to the lack of good-quality materials for the support of learning and teaching in these languages. Although the current FP language policy is supportive of a multilingual culture it does not adequately provide for bridging the transition between home language mathematics instruction and the move to learning mathematics in English once learners move into the Intermediate Phase (Grades 4 to 6).

"Multilingual materials would pave the way to later mathematics learning, since the support of a 'common language' of learning and teaching from early grades would allow learners to be exposed both to the terminology and the conceptual discussion in their home language and in English," Sapire concluded.

Recommendations offered in the report include a review of the National Catalogue list of books to check both mathematical quality and quality of translation into all South African national languages, as well as the provision of textbooks that adequately support a multilingual approach. It is also suggested that the useful role of textbooks should be communicated to teachers in order to overcome resistance to their use in schools.

The provision of good quality mathematics textbooks in the FP will ensure equity across schools and allow young learners access to the range of support material necessary to support the curriculum.
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