The implementation of learner support programmes during school holidays is regarded as one of the most effective intervention support strategies in assisting education districts attain the throughput rate targets set for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examinations. Annually, the Director-General, Mr Hubert Mathanzima Mweli, joined by a team of education specialists, conducts provincial oversight visits and monitoring programmes to support provinces in improving curriculum coverage in schools.
Chief Education Specialist for the Further Education and Training (FET) phase, Mr Pule Rakgoathe, views the learner support programme as a high-level national plan of action to sustain quality learning outcomes. “The frequent intervention support made by the DBE during school holidays plays a crucial role in mitigating learning deficiencies experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, the extent, quality and type of support provided to schools has grown exponentially to match the needs of the learners in preparation for the NSC Examinations. This learner support programme is implemented as another way to provide additional, extraordinary support to learners. It comprises of extra tuition classes over weekends, supplementary learner support material, vacation classes, after-school enrichment programme, teacher training, providing online and offline content, including the use of television and radio as platforms to offer support to learners. In the past, several provinces implemented the learner support programme at a smaller scale. However, during the 2022 School Calendar, the learner support programmes conducted during the autumn and winter school vacation were successfully administered, with dedicated support to a selected learner population such as progressed learners, moderate and top achievers,” highlighted Mr Rakgoathe.
He further acknowledged the Director-General’s commitment towards monitoring the learner support programmes and added that the PEDs should invest adequate resources to ensure effective administration thereof. During the recent winter vacation, Mr Mweli visited more than 108 schools. While the focus of the Director-General’s visit was to motivate learners, the curriculum team focused on determining whether the efficacy and quality of classes were facilitated as scheduled. Basically, the Grade 12 Winter Support Classes were intended to revise Term 1 and 2 content; ensure curriculum coverage; strengthen and improve knowledge and understanding of the content; develop and strengthen higher cognitive thinking skills; support learners who have barriers to learning; and provide motivational support to learners holistically. The criteria for the selection of teachers or tutors for learner support programme is always based on merit. In some instances, the districts recommended the relevant tutors for consideration. In our interactive sessions in several winter camps, the majority of learners were happy with the quality of curriculum coverage and applauded teachers for revising term 1 and 2 work through a structured timetable. The learners also reported that the Winter classes were very essential since most of the challenging topics were covered,” remarked Mr Rakgoathe.
The DBE and Provincial Education Departments are expected to monitor spring camps and last-push programmes ahead of the NSC Examination during September 2022.