Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Education]]> vol. 41 num. 3 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Educators as mediators in teaching English as First Additional Language in Grade 6 inclusive classrooms in South Africa</b>]]> Educators are one of the stakeholders in the education system working to ensure learner success. According to the Minimum Requirements For Teacher Education Qualifications, educators must fulfil 7 roles in their quest to impart education. In the study reported on her, we investigated Grade 6 educators' knowledge and use of mediation as one of their roles in teaching English as First Additional Language (FAL) in Grade 6 inclusive classrooms. We further investigated how educators responded to learners who had diverse learning needs in English as FAL in Grade 6 inclusive classrooms. Six educators who taught English as FAL were purposively selected to participate in this study. Data were collected using qualitative research methods such as in-depth interviews and observations, in addition to document analysis. The participating educators indicated that large classes, a lack of training on inclusive education, and the scarcity of teaching resources made their mediation roles in teaching English as FAL in Grade 6 inclusive classrooms very challenging. <![CDATA[<b>Quality elements of after-school programmes: A case study of two programmes in the Western Cape province of South Africa</b>]]> The qualitative case study reported on here was commissioned and funded by the Western Cape Government (WCG) in partnership with the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC) to inquire into attributes of well performing after-school programmes (ASPs) within the Western Cape province of South Africa. The research question of the study was: What quality elements of ASPs can be identified in 2 purposefully selected ASPs in the Western Cape province? In the multiple (double) case study we used interviews and archival data from the 2 ASPs. Using Mott's Theory of Change (ToC) framework and Socio-Cultural Learning (SCL) theory as analytical lenses, we found that adaptability, strong management, staff commitment, involvement of current and former learners, family involvement, multi-stakeholder partnerships, continuous programme funding, and monitoring and evaluation were central to the success of the ASPs. Upscaling and replication efforts in the province and similar contexts should seriously consider embedding these quality elements in their logic models. <![CDATA[<b>Evaluating the alignment between the Grade 9 mathematics Annual National Assessment and the TIMSS test items</b>]]> In the study reported on here I evaluated the alignment between the Annual National Assessment (ANA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Theoretical perspectives were drawn from the Survey Enacted Curriculum (SEC), while quantitative correlational methods were used to determine the alignment between ANA and TIMSS using 2 variables in the assessments, topics and cognitive levels. The research design was the correlational prediction design. The evaluation revealed that the Porter's alignment index between ANA and TIMSS was 0.657 in 2012, 0.728 in 2013 and 0.681 in 2014. Statistically, this was significantly low at the Alpha level of 0.05, in accordance with Fulmer's critical values at 20, 60 and 120 standard points. The low statistical significance of the alignment indices justifies discrepancies in topics and cognitive levels for ANA and TIMSS, justifying misalignment in what was tested in the two assessments. It is recommended that alignment studies be sanctioned frequently by the ANA developers as one of many measures to gauge the performance of the curriculum both in a national and international context. <![CDATA[<b>Limiting factors in stimulating and sustaining interest in psycho-productive skills acquisition in secondary school agricultural science</b>]]> In the study reported on here we investigated factors impeding the stimulation and sustenance of students' interest in the acquisition of psycho-productive skills in senior secondary school agricultural science. We used the classical design for change experiments or before-after measures as the research design. Two methods of teaching, namely demonstration and conventional teaching were used with the experimental and control groups (87 subjects) from 2 schools in the Ijebu-East Local Government Area, Ogun State, Nigeria. A self-reporting scale exposed the students' perceptions of limiting factors such as seeing agriculture as a dirty job, a school subject meant for never-to-do-well, dull students, and as punishment for erring students. Of the 12 factors listed as stimulating and sustaining students' interest, the subjects identified 8 as limiting ones. The results from the mean, standard deviation and f-test indicate that there was significant difference between the factors identified by the experimental and control groups. The results also reveal that there was a significant difference in the factors identified by male and female subjects. This could have been as a result of gender stereotyping regarding agricultural practices in some parts of the study area. It was suggested, among others, that the agricultural science teacher should make efforts to incorporate innovative teaching approaches like demonstration methods in classroom practice coupled with infusion of practical periods to enhance psycho-productive skills acquisition. The vocational agriculture curriculum should include an approach to easily measure a combination of psycho-productive, affective and cognitive skills rather than mere cognitive skills. <![CDATA[<b>School dropout among female learners in rural Mpumalanga, South Africa</b>]]> South Africa, like many countries, has high numbers of learners who do not complete secondary schooling. This reduces these young people's chances of finding work or of earning a better salary. It is thus important to understand the factors that contribute to high school dropout. In the study reported on here we investigated the factors that caused a number of female learners to drop out and return to high school in a rural community in Mpumalanga. The learners provided 3 reasons for dropping out of school: pregnancy, illness and immigration. The analysis of these factors suggests 3 underlying themes that influence the ability of children to remain in school, viz. health, policies and structures, and poverty. The implications of these and recommendations to address them are discussed. The authors argue that greater interdepartmental efforts are required to support vulnerable girls to remain in school. <![CDATA[<b>Principal leadership practices and school effectiveness in Niger State, Nigeria</b>]]> In the study reported on here, we investigated the effectiveness of principal leadership practices in secondary schools in Niger State, Nigeria. Surveys were conducted with 154 principals, 269 heads of the department and 25 members of staff from the Secondary Education Board in Niger State. The findings indicate that the extent of principal leadership practices and school effectiveness attributes in secondary schools in Niger State is high. The result of multiple regressions shows that about 14% (R² =0.14) of the variation in school effectiveness accounted for leadership practices. We recommend that the Federal and State Ministries of Education in Nigeria focus on issues other than leadership practices, such as training programmes for secondary school teachers to enhance school effectiveness. There is also a compelling need for secondary school principals to identify and promote the professional development needs of teachers and to ensure that teachers are effectively trained to enhance the development of secondary schools into centre of excellence. <![CDATA[<b>The influence of parental demographics on school choice decision-making in Western Gauteng, South Africa</b>]]> Major political changes since 1994 have initiated the pace of change in the South African education system. Parents' values, traditions and practices that served in the past were no longer relevant in the new dynamic educational environment. Parental school choice and "the right to choose" movement has subsequently come to the fore. The purpose of this article elucidates findings regarding the demographics of active school choice engagement among middle class parents in Western Gauteng, South Africa. The study, situated in the Gauteng province, South Africa, followed a conclusive research design with a post positivist paradigm. Parent questionnaires were distributed to different types of urban schools to establish the perceptions of parents regarding the factors, anxieties, aspirations and strategies influencing school choice decision-making. Findings reveal that language, income and education not only have a definitive influence on active school choice engagement but also affect the level of importance attached to specific school choice factors. Education in South Africa can thus be viewed as a unique complex system embedded in a political, cultural and economic context. <![CDATA[<b>A case study of two teacher learning communities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa</b>]]> In the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development, a South African policy, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Department of Higher Education (DHET) call for the formation of professional learning communities and envisage support for teachers and access to enhanced professional development opportunities at the local level. However, the formation and operation of professional learning communities in a South African context is still unclear. In this article we use the concept of professional learning communities to examine the extent to which 2 teacher learning communities operate as professional learning communities. We used interviews, observations, survey questionnaires and document analysis to generate data. The findings of the study reveal that the 2 teacher learning communities were initiated by the DBE and not by teachers. However, the size of 1 teacher learning community and the nature of its functioning seemed to adhere to the characteristics of a professional learning community while the other did not. The findings indicate that professional learning communities that operate in developing contexts might be functional when all the stakeholders play a meaningful role in supporting professional learning communities. <![CDATA[<b>"I'm not a teacher": A case of (dys)functional parent-teacher partnerships in a South African township</b>]]> Teachers collaborating with parents is an axiom of successful school programmes. The parents' role should be supportive and complementary to the teachers' pedagogical function. A functional or dysfunctional parent-teacher partnership is a predictor of children's success or failure in school. The functionality of parent-teacher partnerships is often measured through student achievement. The aim of this article was to illuminate how a coordinated parent-teacher partnership can be supportive to children's schooling. Focus is on teachers' teaching role complimented with the supportive and monitoring role of parents. Data were collected through interviews with parents and teachers at a township primary school. I engage the concern that a lack of parental involvement affects parent-teacher partnerships in township schools. Findings of this study demonstrate teachers' lack of understanding of the sociocultural and economic circumstances constraining parental involvement, resulting in a chasm of understanding between teachers and parents on how to collaboratively support children's learning positions at school and at home. <![CDATA[<b>Funds of knowledge and agentic strategies of three- and four-year-old children in South Africa</b>]]> In South Africa, little is known about the funds of knowledge of young children, and how they use this resource to affirm their agency in early childhood centres to build their childhood experiences. With this article we contribute knowledge through exploring the strategies that young children use to show their agency and thereby their funds of knowledge in a marginalised context. The funds of knowledge approach is helpful for illuminating meaning-making endeavours that foreground agentic actions that are imaginative, creative and beyond normative expectations. The study reported on in this article was conducted in Bloemfontein, South Africa, at 4 early childhood centres. Data were obtained through observation of 30 three- and 4-year-old children. The findings suggest that young children engage in agentic strategies of avoiding, ignoring and challenging adult control, pretend-play, imitation of adults and peers, and gendered negotiations, as efforts to contest a largely teacher-controlled environment. The insights from this study contribute to the understanding of the kinds of practices in which young children routinely engage, but which are often disregarded and undervalued by teachers. The agentic imagery of children, together with intersections of other imagery, needs to be part of the knowledge mix to inform teacher development and policy on early childhood care and education of children between birth and 4 years old in South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>The influence of project-based learning on student achievement in elementary mathematics education</b>]]> An effective instructional approach in elementary mathematics education has a significant role in the understanding of mathematical concepts and overall student achievement. We point out the characteristics, significance and effects that may be achieved in mathematics education through the application of project-based learning. The aim of the study was to examine the effects of project-based learning on student achievement in lower elementary mathematics education and examine whether the project-based model was equally acceptable to students with different marks. We arranged quasi-experimental research instruction (experiment with parallel groups), on a sample (N = 147) in order to examine whether an instructional approach based on the principles of project-based work would achieve better effects of learning and student achievement compared to the usual way of learning implemented in mathematics education. Results of the final measurements show that students in the experimental group, who worked according to the model of project-based work, achieved better compared to students who worked in the usual way. With this study we have shown that project-based instruction has significant effects on student achievement in lower elementary mathematics education, and that it can undoubtedly contribute to the methodological empowerment of teachers in their teaching practice. <![CDATA[<b>Challenges of English as a first additional language: Fourth grade reading teachers' perspectives</b>]]> The study reported on here was designed to investigate the challenges faced by teachers when teaching reading in Grade 4 English First Additional Language (EFAL) in East London, South Africa. This research study was framed by the socio-constructivist theory of reading. A case study design that corresponds with the constructivist paradigm was used to gather qualitative data. Semi-structured interviews and observations were conducted with 12 teachers who were purposively selected from 4 public schools (2 English teachers from each school and 1 natural sciences teacher) to establish the challenges that they encountered in their attempts to encourage Grade 4 EFAL learners to gain proficiency in English. Data presented were taken from a large scale on English reading problems. The data were analyzed using Critical Discourse Analysis and were arranged and coded into 5 themes. The major findings refer to the poor level of reading of Grade 4 EFAL learners, a decrease in teacher and learner motivation, overcrowded classrooms and inadequate training on reading strategies. Based on the findings of the study and an extensive literature review, the Comprehensive Model for teaching reading is recommended. <![CDATA[<b>The transition of learners to classes for learners with special educational needs from the perspective of the learners, teachers and parents</b>]]> The researchers investigate how learners with barriers to learning experience the transition to classes for learners with special educational needs. The research was conducted at a full-service school in Potchefstroom, North West province, South Africa. Interviews were conducted with current and former teachers as well as the parents of selected participants who were learners in special educational needs (LSEN) classes at the school. Focus group interviews were held with each of the groups of learners. The findings of the study could be divided into intrapersonal factors (emotional development; group pressure; self-image and self-confidence; a feeling of loss; a transition that was traumatic, filled with stress and aggression; level of security; and the inability to hold his or her own in situations) and interpersonal factors (low social skills, the loss of friends, the loss of social status and the feeling that the transition was merely a temporary measure). We concluded that, based on the social and psychological effects of the transition between LSEN- and mainstream classes, teachers and parents need to make better informed decisions about the transition of learners. <![CDATA[<b>The influence of group life-design-based counselling on learners' academic self-construction: A collective case study</b>]]> The purpose of this study was to explore how life-design-based counselling can influence young learners' academic self-construction within a group context. The study involved a qualitative mode of enquiry with 12 participants. Life-design-based intervention strategies, together with various (postmodern) qualitative techniques, were used to gather data. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data and identify themes and sub-themes. The findings indicate that the participants exhibited enhanced academic self-construction in general after the intervention. More specifically, they displayed improved future aspirations as they made sense of their current learning. Future research could assess the feasibility and value of lifedesign counselling as early as the primary school years, as it seems to hold numerous benefits for young individuals that may positively influence their life-long career development. <![CDATA[<b>Assessing prospective teachers' soft skills curriculum implementation: Effects on teaching practicum success</b>]]> Soft skills encompassing conscientiousness, lifelong learning, communication, creativity, and teamwork are beneficial to success in work and life. The education policy in Nigeria on teacher education stipulates that students should learn basic soft skills at universities as performance improvement tools for teaching, but for the most part teacher education programmes do not include such skills. The aim of the study reported on here was to assess whether the soft skills curriculum and instruction course has been effectively implemented in university teacher education programmes. This course is theory based designed to inculcate soft skills in would-be teachers within 2 semesters. We used paper questionnaires and performed data analysis by way of partial least square structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) using SmartPLS software in a non-experimental procedure with a total of 722 prospective teachers. The analysis revealed that prospective teachers gained moderate soft skills, which, in turn, benefited them in classroom control and, ultimately, teaching success in terms of lesson planning, development, and results. It is fair to suggest that the PLS-SEM model shows that participation in the curriculum and instruction course generates different kinds of benefits to teachers at the same time. <![CDATA[<b>Exploring age-old Xhosa values in the teaching of sexuality education</b>]]> Research demonstrates that teachers' cultural perspectives influence how they teach sexuality education; however, it is not clear how this occurs. Therefore, in my study, I explored how Xhosa teachers' cultural perspectives influenced their practice of teaching sexuality education to adolescent Xhosa learners. I purposively selected 9 female Xhosa teachers and took them through the photovoice process, adopting a critical paradigm and drawing on a participatory visual methodology in achieving this aim. The findings reveal 2 themes: on the one hand, the participants used the past as a lens by drawing on some age-old cultural values and adhering to a didactic model of teaching, and on the other, they shifted towards a new practice by innovating their teaching method and refocusing on a safe lifestyle. The participants stated that the values of assertiveness and passivity were necessary for girls to navigate their adolescent sexuality successfully, even though the 2 values seemed contradictory. This presents a dichotomous dynamic, calling for the scrutiny of the Xhosa culture as it relates to sexuality. This work has implications for teacher professional development and training, as innovative and participatory methods are appropriate for use within sexuality education.