What mathematics learners say about the new South African curriculum reform.
Gopal, Nirmala D.
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In this article we report on what Grade 8 learners say about the new curriculum reforms in South Africa – Outcomes-based Education (OBE) and Curriculum 2005 (C2005) – that were introduced into their mathematics classrooms. The article begins by addressing what is argued to be a gap in reform research in mathematics education. It draws primarily on focus group interviews conducted with learners after having observed a series of consecutive lessons in three different previously racially segregated schools in the Durban region from the international study on mathematics learners' perspectives. The analysis is organised in five broad themes that emerged from the data, some of which resonate with the design features of the curriculum reforms: a strong focus on group work; the attempt to forge relations between mathematics and context; changes in the use of learning-teaching materials such as worksheets; issues of assessment; and learners' take-up of the discourse of the new curriculum approach. Learners' views seem to be linked to their teachers' explicit (non)engagement with the new curriculum, and they appear to be aware of the tensions and trade-offs for themselves in the enactment of the new curriculum.