PDF Changing Teaching, Changing Times: Lessons from a South African Township Science Classroom

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It is not clear why, for instance, a Matric pass rates b Maths and Science passes and c Bachelor passes were prioritized over other key performance indicators such as a teacher profiles b learner profiles c infrastructural capabilities d qualifications e curriculum f leadership and governance structures. In a nutshell, a reclassification policy lacks robust justification to back-up the decision. It suffices, to argue that inference seems to be a preferred modus operandi rather than robust research based modalities. Reclassification model fails to appreciate historical imbalances and other salient drivers that constrain uneven resourcing and provisioning of educational services and activities.

If not carefully managed, it might create an avalanche of unintended schooling challenges. Globally, business of education has changed, recursive models experimented to match ever changing societal and global need for personnel steeped in requisite skills set to penetrate knowledge economies. Research also shows that successful schools are hugely autonomous, have well defined educational goals and efficacious modus operandi to attain set goals and objectives.

Examples of successful and autonomous schooling and educational changes were evidenced by the American charter schools and England academies. American charter schools and academies in England are anchored on accountability to justify existence and beneficiation.

Tracking Quantitative Impact

The Economist p. After Freedom, What? Another lesson learnt from American and British educational transformation is leadership. Similar views are expressed by Pretorius p. Pretorius p. Only one out of three Grade 3 learners can read at the expected level. Poor learner progression contributes to dysfunctional learning environments.

Education in South Africa

Paucity of details and implementability conceals deeper policy fissures. Responses to these questions are nuanced depending on which position one responds. Generally, officialdom responses are often laced in political rhetoric devoid of activism.

Where remedial interventions are deployed, success impact is often not adequately amplified to affirm public confidence in educational interventions and dispel notions that equate such steps as unworthy educational tinkering expeditions devoid of substance and meaningful national beneficiation. Reliance on terminal outcomes examinations has serious limitations.

Liberating educational spaces and modus of provisioning involves inter alia, shrewd planning, visionary and courageous leadership and efficacious systems to roll out transformation processes. It also requires presence of leaders with high sense of professionalism and accountability ethos to coordinate transformation and change processes. It is also to wrestle away stranglehold on educational provisioning by creating robust accountability across all spheres of educational leadership, governance and management.

Evidence gleaned from international educational systems confirms that their success formula is anchored on sound planning, clarity on stakeholder roles and responsibilities and concomitant interventional strategies to operationalize envisaged educational changes. Another strategy that has contributed towards the Finnish Educational system is what Sahlberg p.

Similar views have been articulated by Tomasevski p. This change ended the practice of forcing children to adapt to whatever school was offered to them. Human rights being indivisible, the requirement of adaptability means that human rights must be protected within educational system and also improved. They tend to direct classroom instruction rather than be led by pupils.

South African teachers sadly, do not display that behaviour. Individual attention in a classroom context gets diluted by high number of learners teachers teach which makes one-on-one interface difficult. It has potential create a snowball of challenges, especially on infrastructural capabilities, school efficacy and effectiveness. School principals, teachers were implored to be more professional and learners were to display utmost commitment to learning and education in general.

Incidences of absenteeism still dominate learning environments and continue to undermine quality education and effective schooling. Efficacious leadership anchors strategic and operational endeavours of organizations or entities. This is demonstrated by robust and consistent performance and optimal achievement of set targets and goals.


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An all-encompassing approach to organizational challenges contributes to efficient management and high performance returns. When leaders and role-players share vision and ethos of the organization, quality of deliverables and turn-around time are consistently improved and sustained.

Successful organizations are managed by what Treslan p. Or learning context? Treslan p. Teachers express this value when they clarify concepts covered in a lesson, respond to class questions, and strive for agreement far beyond textbook teaching and mere lecture to reveal evidence of pedagogical and curricular constructivism which themselves are accepted indicators of effective teaching. By creating a culture of consensus within organizational activities, empowers role-players. It significantly engenders a sense of ownership and critical awareness to enhance organizational cohesion and easy management of learning environments for example.

According to Treslan p.

TechSalon session for young people

The current state of schooling dysfunctionality, requires more than just an articulation of a policy intension. It must be based on robust research evidence that covers all facets of educational provisioning to ascertain credibility and plausibility of modus operandi.

Plans and or policy directives on their own may not be effective. They must be anchored and driven by courageous leadership that understands the schooling value chain in its entirety. The current policy articulations do not provide much hope, they sadly, espouse political rhetoric and expediency to delude public perceptions. Narratives on intervention strategies and implementability remain elusive. Prevalence of dysfunctional schools is a result of poor leadership in schools and education in general. A view cleverly elucidated by Bolin p. It was a provocative challenge to citizenry to rethink, chart, mould and affirm the new democracy and concomitant national and international mandates.

Courageous and visionary leadership understands change trajectories and capacity and foresight to introduce changes that would enhance school performance and desired learner performance. Such leadership can turn underperforming schools into credible learning sites that are responsive to needs of learners. According to Fullan p. A perspective also shared by Land and Jarman p. The policy directive lacks details on the stakeholder perspectives and most significantly-modus operandi and cost implications on the National Trea- sury.

It is not evident that there is public consensus on the proposed policy directive. The above narrative by Gauteng MEC for Education both undermines current feeder school policy and practices and complicates educational provisioning in general. The feeder school policy dictates that learners completing foundation phase schooling must be accommodated into schools adjacent to feeder schools and residence. The school reclassification model is silent on many crucial aspects of schooling, namely a school efficiency and efficacy b teacher professionalism and efficacy c school leadership, governance and management and levels of accountability.

South Africa has poor culture of learning and teaching COLT , which invariably, contributes to dysfunctional schools and poor learner performance and achievement. According to The Economist :. Teachers in black state schools work an average of 3. A fifth of teachers are absent on Fridays, rising to a third at the end of the month. Both Darling-Hammond and Wentworth p.

School or educational accountability is dialectically linked with quality and qualification profile of personnel entrusted to lead and manage learning environments. A view further espoused by Sahlberg p. Regrettably, South Africa has been found wanting in these categories Bloch, ; Monyooe et al. The shoddiness of policy directives and implementation to change educational landscape and turn schools into efficacious entities, is eloquently expressed by Darling-Hammond and Sykes p.

Deficits in policy and clarity on methodological base only add to the confusion. COSAT does have advantages.

Aspiring Township Scientists Face Unique Challenges – Afrika Tikkun South Africa

Although it is not a private school, it rigorously recruits and selects students from a competitive applicant pool. The school has almost students and expects to max out at — low by regional standards. Some can't afford it. The school itself is in a nicer area of Khayelitsha, where the houses are actually permanent dwellings.


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The building is a rare modern-looking structure, its name emblazoned in deep-blue letters on a whitewashed wall. Part of the reason it looks so good: It's brand-new. At the beginning of last year, COSAT moved from the top floor of a nearby college to its new building. The move was the first of several challenges for Cooper, who'd only been principal for three years before that and never had to undertake administrative duties when her school was at the college. Some of the staff rebelled. The building wasn't completed when they moved in.

FACTSHEET: Measuring South Africa’s (black) middle class

She had to calm everybody down. That big picture subtly changes as Cooper, who began her career as a math teacher and still teaches classes, learns more. And she's always learning. Cooper recently visited Newark, N.

Loving Classroom South Africa

Well, at least one thing: Be tougher on students and staff. Cooper says her leadership approach is becoming increasingly firm. She'll no longer tolerate sloppiness, lateness, laziness — things she may have excused before. Professor Smith isn't worried. Every time she returns to South Africa, she visits the school to check in on Cooper and her remarkable students. As much as she's enjoying the recognition she's received, Cooper says it ultimately distracts her from her work. She didn't become a principal to speak at conferences; she works, as she always says, for the kids.

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By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Subscribe to the Monitor. Manage subscription. Monitor Daily Current Issue. Monitor Political Cartoons. A Christian Science Perspective. Monitor Movie Guide. Monitor Daily. Photos of the Week. Monitor Weekly PDF. Get the best of Monitor journalism in your inbox. View newsletters By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy. Select free newsletters: The Weekender. Christian Science Perspective. Difference Maker. Jason Kehe. Phadiela Cooper is the principal of and a math teacher at the Centre of Science and Technology in Khayelitsha, a township outside Cape Town.

September 7, By Jason Kehe Contributor. Cape Town, South Africa. Brett Kavanaugh, Susan Collins, and what Maine women think. Get the Monitor Stories you care about delivered to your inbox. By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy. Share this article Copy link Link copied. Next Up.