The Concept of Portfolios in a South African Context: Describing the Past, Looking Beyond the Present to Predict the Future of Portfolios

Barbara Ellen Jones
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South Africa has undergone great change since the new government came to power in 1994; education is no exception. Prior to 1994, education was divided along racial lines. The biggest challenge for South Africa's post-democratic reform was to address issues that would give all citizens an opportunity for quality education and training. Outcome-Based Education (OBE) appealed to South Africa because it empowered students to take control of their learning. Learners in an OBE system are expected to take some responsibility for their learning; thus, ongoing assessment is seen as an important component.

The construction of a portfolio is essential for learners in South Africa in view of the fact that portfolios are thought to be a part of the final assessment for grade nine and will ultimately replace the Matriculation Examination. Portfolio use in assessment shifts from a quantitative tradition of assessment to a more qualitative approach.

Implementation of the new curriculum deemed itself problematic in practice. The new terminology, the lack of qualified trainers and under skilled teachers from the previous Bantu education and the need for resources made a formula for perplexity in the classroom.

The portfolio is an excellent assessment tool, but it is not effective if the teachers implementing the construction have not been trained to facilitate assemble and manage them properly. Portfolio assessment demands well trained teachers who have a knowledge of teaching theories to help students develop to their full potential.

The confusion with the discourse, lack of teacher training, and the demands for implementation of portfolios as an assessment tool in the classroom clearly signifies that research needs to be conducted in the field to bring to light the gaps that may exist between policy implementation and teachers' understanding of portfolio assessment.

Keywords: Portfolio Assessment, Implementation of Portfolio Assessment
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Barbara Ellen Jones

Doctoral Student, Education Department, Rhodes University
South Africa

Ref: L05P0051