The impact of curriculum transformation on classroom practice in Northern Cape schools
Ismail, Michelle Ingrid
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The purpose of this study is to establish the impact of curriculum transformation on classroom practice in Northern Cape schools, given the fact that the curriculum is deemed to be the vehicle which will ensure that all South Africans, have the necessary knowledge, values, skills and attitudes, which will facilitate social and personal development and economic growth, as well as strengthen the country’s democracy. A historical overview of the rationale for curriculum transformation is provided, highlighting the features of the education system prior to the first democratic elections. In addition, the various curriculum policy options pre-1994 is outlined, in an attempt to gain an understanding of the origins of the outcomes-based curriculum. It emerges that most of the proposals put on the table, favoured an integration of education and training, as well as the promotion of high levels of skills, needed for economic growth in the country. Curriculum 2005, which endorsed the ideas of an integrated approach to education and training, and which emphasised life-long learning, was unveiled in May 1997, for implementation in 1998. Given the inequities of the past, it could be expected that teachers would find difficulty in implementing the new curriculum. Developments after implementation is traced, and the study provides a comparison of the design features of the original version of C2005 and the Revised National Curriculum Statement, which is being phased in incrementally. The study also provides an account of the current learning and teaching situation in schools in the country, by illustrating the findings of various research studies. These studies reveal that classroom practice is still characteristic of activities which do not promote higher order thinking skills, such as investigation, understanding relationships and curiosity, lack of lesson structure and lesson material prepared in graded sequence, and physical conditions in schools leaves much to be desired. Given the situation outlined above, the research investigated key factors which are required to improve classroom practice. These factors included; the dissemination of the curriculum, the quality of transactions between teachers and learners in the current teaching situation, methodologies currently used, provision and use of resources and contextual realities at system and school level. During the study, key stakeholders, namely, learning area managers, teachers and learners completed questionnaires on the above mentioned aspects. Principals and representatives from School Governing Bodies responded to questions during interviews. In conclusion, findings emanating from the literature study, as well as the empirical research is presented. Based on these findings, a practice-orientated curriculum implementation strategy, focusing on classroom practice, is recommended, taking the contextual realities of the system into account.