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Stellenbosch Policy Brief No. 01/2016


The Department of Basic Education’s workbooks are an impressive and most welcome recent intervention in our education system. Creating these workbooks has been a colossal undertaking. They have huge potential to improve teaching and learning in South Africa.

This policy brief is based on our study of the Grade 3 workbooks for English home language (EHL) and mathematics. We considered how well these workbooks are aligned with the official national curriculum (the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements – CAPS) and how they can best be used in classrooms to support the implementation of the CAPS.

Our main findings were that these workbooks:

  • „„are well aligned with the CAPS in key content areas,
  • „„are best suited for use as a practice tool, for students to practise content that has been introduced
    systematically through classroom teaching or other resources, such as textbooks,
  • „„could be used as a simple but efficient monitoring tool, to obtain a crude measure of curriculum coverage
    in key content areas by calculating the number of pages completed in the workbooks, and,
  • „„could usefully be aligned with textbooks and the ANAs (Annual National Assessments) to improve system-wide