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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  13 Oct 2016

EDUCATION: Nation Building Initiative Instils the Values Of Ethical Behaviour at School Level


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When most people talk about the most important subjects in a school’s curriculum, they think about math, science and languages. Seldom do you hear or read about Life Orientation (LO) as being crucial to the education of our youth. But neglecting to instil moral values in our learners is hurting them and causing problems in society. For this reason, Dr Terence Nombembe, CEO of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), believes “SAICA has responsibilities beyond high professional standards.” It must seek to build a nation of responsible leaders. SAICA, as a professional body, has been rated as the highest in the world for Auditing and Reporting by the Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum for six consecutive years.

“In a country like South Africa, challenges remain, some of them born out of a history of inequality,” says Nombembe. Schools that are under-resourced require teacher support, while learners need guidance on career choices, establishing a sound value system, and handling peer pressure. While the teaching of moral values remains a shared responsibility within society, the increasing incidence of teen pregnancies, bullying, and violence among learners points to the need to inculcate strong ethical values in young people.

SAICA recognises its role in transforming South Africa in line with the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP). The plan recognises that government and the private sector need to collaborate to achieve its bold objectives. Basic education is among them and SAICA has committed itself to a more active and collaborative approach. “The importance of all learners passing Mathematics, Science and Languages by at least 50% by 2030 – an objective of the NDP – supports our own professional intake requirements,” says Nombembe.

In light of this, SAICA has several collaborative projects to support basic education. In January 2016, the organisation launched a Grade 9 Life Orientation (LO) reader and a teacher’s guide to provide curriculum support for learners and their teachers in this often under-resourced subject.

The All Stars: Every Step Counts imparts the overall message that “actions have consequences.” The reader tells the story of a year of difficult decisions for teenagers Zinzi, Sindiswa, Kgotsi and Neo. The reader is written in a conversational style and includes questions on how learners would respond to specific situations, making it interactive and its lessons real for learners. “The reader has been specifically written to assist in the teaching of the very values that SAICA embraces, and at the same time supports the concept of considered career choices,” says Nombembe.

The project was done in collaboration with the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), EY, PwC and the Financial Services Board and in its pilot stage, The All Stars: Every Step Counts was rolled out to NECT Fresh Start schools in five provinces and eight school districts. At the beginning of the year, research was conducted with teachers who are using the readers. The research showed an overwhelmingly positive response to the readers and the teacher guides. The teachers responded with high scores when asked whether they think that the Grade 9 learners will make better life choices in the future and whether they will be more enthusiastic about the subject. Before this project, almost 65% of learners at the piloted schools did not have a Grade 9 LO textbook. The teachers also suggested that Grade 8 be targeted as a next step.

The SAICA partnership has responded to this positive feedback, and, the Grade 8 reader and lessons plans are near completion. They will be distributed to the same schools towards the end of this year for testing. The intention is that the project will roll out nationally after the pilot phase and will be supported over at least a 10 year period to ensure that the life lessons it teaches become part of a culture of increased personal accountability.

“The values and behaviours taught in this book and throughout the year in the Life Orientation curriculum are the things that will make you stand out to future employers,” says Nombembe. “They are also the things that will help us, person by person to create the great nation we can be.”

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