Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Education]]> vol. 29 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Utilising learning environment assessments to improve teaching practices among in-service teachers undertaking a distance-education programme</b>]]> We examined the viability of using feedback from a learning environment instru­ment to guide improvements in the teaching practices of in-service teachers undertaking a distance-education programme. The 31 teachers involved administered a primary school version of the What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC-Primary) questionnaire to their 1,077 learners in order to determine preferred and actual classroom environments. Feedback about discrepancies between learners' actual preferred learning environments were used to formulate teaching strategies to reduce discrepancies over a 12-week intervention period. In-service teachers' reports, contact sessions, interviews between teachers and researchers, and three case studies based on classroom visits (one of which is reported here) provided thick descriptions of teachers' reactions to utilising the learning environment instrument. Our research provided the first learning environment study at the primary school level in South Africa, cross-validated an IsiZulu version of the WIHIC when used for the first time in South Africa, and supported the success of teachers' use of a learning envi­ronment questionnaire in guiding improvements in their teaching. <![CDATA[<b>Legislation on school governors' power to appoint educators</b>: <b>friend or foe?</b>]]> The establishment of school governing bodies represents a significant decentralisation of power in the South African school system. The South African Schools Act (Act 84 of 1996) plays an important role in encouraging the principle of partnership in and mutual responsibility for education. With the institution of school governing bodies (SGBs), SASA was aimed to give effect to the principle of the democratisation of schooling by affording meaningful power over their schools to the school-level stakeholders including the governors serving on SGBs. While such decentralisation could well be expected to mean an increase in democratic participation in the governance of schools, this is not necessarily the case. The picture that emerges from the analysis made in this article is that of the state encouraging participation but cautioning against too much involvement and even taking steps to limit the involvement and powers of stakeholders in the appointment of staff. Governors may well view what has happened since 1994 as a promise first fulfilled but later disappointed and frustrated. <![CDATA[<b>A Holistic Professional Development model for South African physical science teachers</b>]]> The state of mathematics and science education in South Africa is a cause for concern. This situation can be attributed, in part, to many mathematics and science teachers' limited content knowledge, ineffective teaching approaches, and unprofessional attitudes. To address these three problem areas simultaneously, a holistic model for the development of Grades 10 to 12 Physical Science teachers was constructed and evaluated against national and international benchmarks. The effects of the model were assessed over a period of four years with 75 teachers. The model was developed in a distance education context, with no face-to-face contact required. It comprises the following elements: a study guide which integrates the development of teachers' content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, cognitive skills and experimental skills; reflective journals; assignments; workshops; peer support and science kits. We briefly describe the research that culminated in the Holistic Professional Development (HPD) model, followed by an account of each element of the model. We then present evidence that suggests that the model is effective in helping teachers develop along three desired dimensions, namely, content knowledge, teaching approaches, and professional attitudes. <![CDATA[<b>Examining the impact of HIV&AIDS on South African educators</b>]]> Our aim in this study was to examine the impact of HIV&AIDS on South African educators. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in public schools combining HIV testing and a face-to-face interview with participants from a nationally representative sample of public educators. The results show that HIV is highly prevalent among South African public educators (12.7%) and the educators who are absent from school for longer periods (20 days or more) compared with those who are absent for less than four days have higher HIV prevalence (16.8% vs 11.95%). Educators also spend time away from teaching while they attend funerals for colleagues who have died (6.7%), for family members (13.4%) and for members of their communities (47.6%). This makes them feel depressed (71%). These results suggest that HIV&AIDS has an impact on the quality of education. There is a need to prevent new HIV infections and reduce morbidity through the implementation of comprehensive integrated prevention and treat­ment programmes targeted at educators. There is also a need to support educators in coping with the problem of HIV&AIDS at work and in the community. <![CDATA[<b>Giving voice to the voiceless through deliberative democratic school governance</b>]]> I focus on the role of learners in the governance of secondary schools. I seek to promote a voice for learner expression as guaranteed in the national Department of Education's guidelines for Representative Council of Learners as part of promoting democratic governance. The potential, limitations, constraints, conse­quen­ces, and challenges facing learners in the school governance structure need to be revealed and debated. The views of school principals were solicited by means of unstructured open-ended questionnaires. Six problem areas emerged from the data. The irony is that although the democratisation of school governance has given all stakeholders a powerful voice in school affairs, learners' voices are, seemingly, being silenced. In attempting to resolve the problem, a new model of democratic school governance to be known as 'deliberative democratic school governance' (DDSG) is suggested. There are several DDSG approaches that can be employed in creating elements for stakeholder empowerment and in driving deliberative democratic school governance forward. These include inclusion, motivational communication, consensus, deliberation/ dialogue, collaboration, and conflict resolution. Some school governance stake­holders and schools may use only one or a few of these strategies to create spaces for learner voices in their respective schools. <![CDATA[<b>The persistence of gender inequality in Zimbabwe</b>: <b>factors that impede the advancement of women into leadership positions in primary schools</b>]]> We investigated and analysed the factors that women teachers consider as barriers to their advancement to headship positions in Zimbabwean primary schools. Specifically, we sought to identify the factors perceived by women school heads to be causes of persistent under-representation of women in school headship positions. Data were collected through structured face-to-face inter­views and focus group discussions with 13 experienced women school heads. The findings revealed that although the majority of the women teachers in the study sample were qualified for promotion to school headship positions, they had not attempted to apply for them. The majority of the women teachers in the study sample were adequately qualified for promotion to school headship positions. Indeed, a large number of them either had a university degree or were pursuing degree studies and also had extensive experience. But most of them had not attempted to apply for school headship and hence were still class teachers. Gender stereotypes were shown to be one of the major causes of persistent under-representation of women in primary school headship. The influence of gender role stereotypes was found to manifest in the form of low self esteem; lack of confidence; women's perception that their role in the family overrides all other roles; and lack of support from the home and the workplace. <![CDATA[<b>Challenges facing primary school educators of English Second (or Other) Language learners in the Western Cape</b>]]> We were prompted by the prevalence of English Second or Other Language (ESOL) learners identified by educators as having language disorders and being referred for Speech-Language Therapy. We describe challenges faced by Grade 1, 2 and 3 educators at government schools in the Cape Metropolitan area who were working with such learners. Applying a mixed-methods descriptive design, a self-administered questionnaire and three focus groups were used for data collection. Educator perceptions and experiences regarding ESOL learners were described. Some participant educators at schools that were not former Model C schools had large classes, including large proportions of ESOL learners. Fur­thermore, there was a shortage of educators who were able to speak isiXhosa, the most frequently occurring first (or home) language of the region's ESOL learners. Challenges faced by educators when teaching ESOL learners included learners' academic and socio-emotional difficulties and a lack of parent in­volvement in their children's education. Participant educators indicated a need for departmental, professional and parental support, and additional training and resources. Implications and recommendations for speech-language thera­pist and educator collaborations and speech-language therapists' participation in educator training were identified. <![CDATA[<b>An aspect of language for academic purposes in secondary education</b>: <b>complex sentence comprehension by learners in an integrated Gauteng school</b>]]> Language for academic purposes is an important concept, not always recognised and developed within the education system. The ability to use language for learning can be difficult for individuals who are educated in a second language. They are required to master complex concepts in a language they are still acquiring. We aimed to discover how secondary school learners performed on an aspect of academic language: complex sentence comprehension. A group of 464 adolescent participants' performance on the grammatical understanding subtest of the Test of Adolescent Language was analysed in relation to their status as first or second language English learners, their grade, gender, literacy experiences, preferred modality of learning, and other factors deemed to in­fluence language acquisition in modern society. The results indicated that the majority of learners achieved within the average range. There were significant differences between the male and female participants and the junior phase ESL males achieved the lowest scores. It was concluded that it may take 8-9 years of formal schooling for some individuals to acquire the requisite academic language proficiency, particularly if they are learning in their second language. This has important implications for the teaching and assessment of second language learners.