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South African Journal of Education

Print version ISSN 0256-0100

Abstract

NDLOVU, Mdutshekelwa C. University-school partnerships for social justice in mathematics and science education: the case of the SMILES project at IMSTUS. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2011, vol.31, n.3, pp. 419-433. ISSN 0256-0100.

My purpose in this paper is to situate a university-school mathematics and science education partnership within a social justice perspective in education. The focus of the systemic intervention endeavour was school-based teacher professional development in which university-based facilitators embarked on class visits with the aim of identifying teacher needs, co-teaching and offering professional support over a three-year period. This was in contrast to evaluation (inspection visits) often undertaken by the subject advisors under the auspices of the Department of Education which, for historical reasons, tend to be viewed with suspicion by teachers and teacher unions. Five historically disadvantaged secondary schools and their 10 feeder primary schools were involved in this study with a view to providing equal opportunities to learners from marginalized communities in the Cape Winelands district of the Western Cape. Initial results suggest that an intervention programme that is responsive to local needs can go a long way in bringing about collaborative teacher professional development that leads to reflective practice in professional learning communities and can add value to the quality of student achievement in the gateway subjects of mathematics and science.

Keywords : disadvantaged schools; learning communities; mathematics and science education; reflective practitioner; SMILES; social justice; teacher professional development; university-school partnerships.

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