'No-repeat policy at foundation phase at schools a bandaid for the bottleneck'

There is a proposal by the Department of Basic Education to introduce a "no repeat" policy at the foundation phase of schooling, where learners from grades 1 to 3 will be advanced to the next class and not held back, even if they have not acquired the skills to move on.

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said in Parliament last year that expert opinion suggested it was not beneficial for pupils in the lower grades, between the ages of 6 and 10, to repeat a grade.

Motshekga claims research supports that repeating these grades has no benefit and impacts negatively on children's sense of failure which can persist throughout their lives.

Creative parenting consultant Nikki Bush talks to John Maytham about why she believes this would be a very bad move.

It is a very controversial issue and will have a serious impact on children and business who will one day want to employ numero-literate people.

Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert

We need to press the pause button on this change to give it more due consideration.

Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert

This proposal addresses only what can be seen right now, "the tip of the iceberg".

It is a bandaid for the bottleneck, as the department says the highest grade for repetitions is grade 1.

Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert

She says by not allowing grade 1s to repeat, the bottleneck is simply pushed up to grade 4 level.

So it is not really addressing the problem.

Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert

South Africa is still living with a very long legacy of ineffective education, says Bush.

The majority of children in South Africa do not receive pre-school education....it is only provided by private institutions of you can afford it, and in disadvantaged areas by NGOs and NPOs. it is not provided by the government.

Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert

Grade R has been made compulsory but effectively "it is playing catch-up and squashing six years of school readiness into one year", she explains.

This places enormous pressure on both teachers and pupils, she adds.

Education is a journey, not a destination. It is a process.

Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert

Listen to Nikki Bush explaining the importance of the foundation phase and the impact on future learning:


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