Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Education]]> vol. 38 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Homework policy review: A case study of a public school in the Western Cape Province</b>]]> A key concern today is the question of homework in our nation's public schools. In this study, an investigation was conducted with the first no-homework policy, which has been introduced in one of the primary schools in the Western Cape. This study seeks to determine whether a no-homework policy will validate a positive or negative effect on school children and also intended to determine whether a no-homework policy would be beneficial to South African schools. An interpretive approach to a case study was in place, where an interview was conducted with teachers and the head of curriculum. This case study considered replacement exercises executed at the school to compensate for the homework no longer given to the learners. This study found that no homework has left a more positive effect on learners. However, this study argues that no homework will be a disadvantage in the future. To conclude, this study sought motivating factors that influence learners in becoming successful. Finally, this study proposes that some form of homework ought to be in place in order to help the learner in many aspects of their future life. <![CDATA[<b>Politicising curriculum implementation: The case of primary schools</b>]]> Since 2012, the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) comprise the new National Curriculum Statement currently implemented in South African schools. CAPS encapsulates a series of radical curriculum changes since the dawn of a new democratic dispensation in 1994. This study aims to understand how Grade Three educators in Limpopo, South Africa, approach the implementation of the most recent CAPS. The analysis of data revealed inconsistencies between the 'optimistic' view of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to improve curriculum implementation despite continuously changing the curriculum, and the 'pessimistic' scenario where educators consistently refer to obstacles to curriculum implementation. Respondents suggested that CAPS implementation is hampered by inadequate training of educators, a lack of resources, and too much paperwork. The study points to the politicisation of implementation signalled through educators' dissatisfaction with the DBE and their positive view of trade unions. This article argues that in the highly politicised education context of South Africa, curriculum implementation takes a back seat to institutional and individual political machinations. <![CDATA[<b>Information communication technology policy and public primary schools' efficiency in Rwanda</b>]]> Teaching and learning processes have been developed through different methods and materials; nowadays the introduction of computers and other ICT tools in different forms and levels of education have been found to be highly influential in education system of different countries. The main objective of this study was to correlate Information Communication Technology with public primary schools' efficiency in Rwanda. The study employed the descriptive survey and descriptive co-relational design. One hundred and forty-four primary teachers participated in the study. The level of ICT was poor (M = 1.72); and the level of primary schools' efficiency (external and internal) was satisfactory with an average mean of 2.53. The relationship between ICT and public primary schools' efficiency was significant (r-value = 0.56, sig = 0.029). The study recommended that the government ought to distribute enough ICT equipment equally to all primary schools, promote the One Lap Top Per Child Programme in all primary schools, and provide trainings to teachers and head teachers. <![CDATA[<b>Learning style preferences and Mathematics achievement of secondary school learners</b>]]> Mathematics is a key subject necessary to the promotion of economic development, particularly in developing countries; however, South African learners perform poorly in Mathematics when benchmarked against their counterparts in other countries. One way to address this issue is by taking cognisance of the learners' learning styles when teaching. Using the Dunn and Dunn model and the VARK model, the study on which this article is based explored the inter-relationships of Mathematics achievement and seven learning styles, as well as the learning styles of high and low achievers. To this end, the investigation employed a mainly quantitative research design involving 240 learners from one secondary school in the North-West Province. The learners completed a structured questionnaire. Among others, the results revealed that an individual learning style correlated the highest with Mathematics performance. Through follow-up interviews with 10 high achievers, the study also found that context influenced learning style preferences: in addition to individual learning at home, high performers preferred reading/writing and group learning in the classroom. The study recommends that teachers should create a positive learning environment at school, and use teaching methods that accommodate a variety of learning styles. Further research is needed to determine the impact of demographic variables on learning style preferences in Mathematics. <![CDATA[<b>The impact of language factors on learner achievement in Science</b>]]> South African learner achievement remains poor, despite large investment in schooling over the last two decades. Literature and research findings offer no single explanation or solution. In this article, the authors explored the relative contribution of specific language factors such as the role of home- and school-language equivalence, cultural and economic capital, and other school and classroom factors to Science achievement. The analysis identified specific language and/or contextual factors having the biggest influence on learner achievement. This was achieved through secondary analysis of South African Grade Nine (N = 12,000) data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011. Multiple-regression modelling using contextual and achievement data suggested that home- and school-language equivalence and how frequently learners used the school language at home were strongly associated with the Science achievement results of Grade Nine learners in South Africa. Several other language factors that could be seen as cultural capital, beyond broader economic capital, some classroom-related contextual conditions and selected school-level factors, also showed strong influences. It is concluded that language, teacher training, and broader economic policy changes and their thorough implementation are required to address these concerns. <![CDATA[<b>Teacher beliefs and attitudes about inquiry-based learning in a rural school district in South Africa</b>]]> Despite growing consensus regarding the value of inquiry-based teaching and learning, the implementation of such a pedagogical practice continues to be a challenge for many South African teachers, especially at rural schools. The research reported in this article concerns the interaction between Grade 10 Physical Sciences teachers' beliefs about inquiry-based learning, and their practice of inquiry in their classrooms. This research adopted a mixed methods design. In the first phase of the research, quantitative data were collected by distributing a validated questionnaire to Physical Sciences teachers in an education circuit in rural Mpumalanga, South Africa. The next phase of the research involving teacher interviews, provided a more in-depth explanation of some of the findings, which emerged from the questionnaire survey. It was found that sampled teachers from the rural district have a positive attitude towards inquiry in the teaching and learning of Physical Sciences, and recognise the benefits of inquiry, such as addressing learner motivation and supporting learners in the understanding of abstract science concepts. However, despite this positive belief towards inquiry-based learning, teachers are less inclined to enact inquiry-based learning in their lessons. Teachers claim that the implementation of inquiry-based learning is fraught with difficulty, such as availability of laboratory facilities, teaching materials, time to complete the curriculum, and large classes, which creates tension in their willingness to implement it. <![CDATA[<b>Native speaker dichotomy: Stakeholders' preferences and perceptions of native and non-native speaking English language teachers</b>]]> Addressing the perceptions and the preferences of the upper-secondary school students, teachers, parents and administrators of the native speaking (NS) and non-native speaking (NNS) English teachers as well as investigating the variables affecting these preferences and perceptions, this study explores whether or not the native speaker myth is still prevalent. Contrary to common assumptions with regard to student and parent preferences being in favour of NS English teachers, this study purports that English as a foreign language (EFL) students who have participated in this study which is conducted in the Turkish Cypriot context favour the English teachers with good teaching skills, regardless of their NS/NNS status. The students' perceptions and preferences are compared with those of their parents, teachers and administrators. The data are collected from 185 students, 86 parents, 18 teachers and two administrators, and analysed adopting a mixed-methods research design, being predominantly quantitative. Overall, mother tongue and grade are found to be the two variables that influence the participants' perceptions and preferences with regard to the NS and NNS English teachers. Significant differences are found between student and teacher responses and between parents' and teachers' perceptions and preferences. <![CDATA[<b>Perceptions of disadvantaged rural matriculants regarding factors facilitating and constraining their transition to tertiary education</b>]]> While education has been recognised as a route out of poverty, for many black South Africans, equality of opportunity and access to quality post-school education are often hampered by lack of resources and the lingering legacy of apartheid. The main focus of this study is on learners' perceptions in the disadvantaged rural community of Siyabuswa, Mpumalanga regarding tertiary education and factors affecting their pursuit of such an education. A qualitative research design was adopted and data collection occurred through the use of semi-structured interview schedules administered via face-to-face interviews. The analysis of the data took the form of thematic content analysis, and was framed within a discussion of Paulo Freire's theory of conscientisation. Findings from the research suggest that respondents perceived education to be important. However, linguistic constraints, under-resourced schools, and a lack of career guidance appear to hinder their aspirations to successfully transition from secondary to tertiary education. Facilitating factors included parental expectations, and academic support, while hindering factors included peer pressure, lack of funding, and the inability to apply themselves to their studies. The study has implications for the enhancement of linguistic skills during primary schooling and the provision of career guidance to secondary school learners to help bridge the gap between school and post-school education. <![CDATA[<b>The impact of formative assessment activities on the development of teacher agency in mathematics teachers</b>]]> Although buoyed by the induction of a democratic government, and the high ideals of our constitution, the South African education system has in many ways not met the expectations of its people, in this case, the mathematics education community. With the birth of an expansive intended curriculum came the monitoring of the outcomes through systemic type testing, the so-called attained curriculum. In time, it became clear that the inevitable 'teaching to the test' would constitute a narrowing of the implemented curriculum. Two possible constraining influences of the systemic test were identified, namely, a narrowing of the curriculum, and reliance on only one source of external monitoring. To counteract these, a project titled Assessment Enhanced Teaching and Learning (AETL) has been initiated, involving Grade Nine mathematics teachers. The aim of the project is to provide intermittent markers of progress to the teachers and learners at strategic points throughout the year. Teacher involvement in the design and implementation of these formative assessment tasks is thus central to the project. In this paper, we report on a case study at one school in the Pretoria region, and explore the use of structured assessment tasks as an approach to professional development. The question posed here is, "How does the implementation of strategically designed assessment tasks support professional development and enable professional agency?" Our findings indicate a strong sense of agency motivated by the need to excel in systemic type testing. <![CDATA[<b>Enabling the development of student teacher professional identity through vicarious learning during an educational excursion</b>]]> This paper explores the views of student teachers who were provided vicarious learning opportunities during an educational excursion, and how the learning enabled them to develop their teacher professional identity. This qualitative research study, using a social-constructivist lens highlights how vicarious learning influenced student teachers' professional identity. Data were analysed from activity based reflection notes Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students had written based on their learning and experiences during an excursion. Findings indicated that learning from other practising teachers' experiences enabled them to develop a more positive teacher professional identity in terms of caring, motivation and being a beacon of hope. <![CDATA[<b>The realities of educator support in a South African school district</b>]]> This paper explores support in primary schools in a single South African school district. The literature suggests an increased need for educator support in South Africa due to a myriad of curricular changes in the aftermath of apartheid, as well as a teacher corps that is ill-prepared for the demands posed by curricular reform. Documented research showed educator support that is inadequate, leaving educators feeling unsupported and ill-equipped to face the challenges presented by the new education system. A qualitative approach located in an interpretive paradigm was adopted for this study while the requisite data were gathered by means of both individual and focus group interviews involving twenty participants from three primary schools in one school district. In addition, documents were requested from the schools, meetings were observed, and a cluster workshop was attended. The main finding of the study was that there is limited evidence of support for primary school educators in the South African school district studied. A key recommendation was that more curriculum instructors and heads of department be employed to increase the capacity of support for primary school educators. <![CDATA[<b>Learner-to-teacher bullying as a potential factor influencing teachers' mental health</b>]]> Learner-to-teacher bullying is a focus area that has not been widely researched. The current research, underpinned by the ecosystemic paradigm, examined the proportion of teachers who reported exposure to bullying by learners. The study was carried out by using the Learner-to-teacher Bullying Questionnaire developed for this research. Additionally, the potential effect that learner-to-teacher bullying may have on teachers' experience of mental health was investigated using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Questionnaire. In a convenience sample consisting of 153 public secondary school teachers in the Tshwane area, 62.1% of the teachers reported exposure to verbal bullying, 34.6% to physical bullying, 27% to indirect bullying, and 6.6% to cyber bullying. Mann-Whitney U Tests were performed and indicated significant differences in teachers' mean anxiety and depression scores across the four types of learner-to-teacher bullying. Learner-to-teacher bullying can result in negative emotions, disempowerment, low morale, and low motivation of various roleplayers in the school system. It is thus of vital importance to protect teachers, create adequate resources to eliminate learner-to-teacher bullying, and work towards improving teachers' mental health. <![CDATA[<b>Social networking as a strategic tool in the management of school-based violence</b>]]> School-based violence is serious, and on the rise in South African schools. The violence affects learners, teachers, communities and the management of schools. Towards finding possible ways to manage school violence, this article presents social networking as a strategic tool in the management of school-based violence in high schools, based on the results of a study carried out in the uMgungundlovu district of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The study adopted a qualitative approach as a result of the interpretative nature of the causes of school-based violence in high schools. The sample of the study was made up of 18 participants and in-depth interviews were the main data collection instruments in the study. Content analysis using NVivo was employed in analysing data collected in the study. The study revealed how school managers employ social networking as information gathering tool and as a support mechanism in the management of school-based violence in high schools. The information gathered by school managers through social networking enable them develop intervention strategies in high schools that reduce school-based violence and create school climates that promote teaching and learning.