SAERA

Day 1 | Monday 23 October

Panel discussions: 08:30 – 10:00

PANEL 1

Decolonizing History of and For Education in Faculties of Education

Linda Chisholm, Michelle Friedman, Queenta Anyele Sindoh, Natasha Bambo

The #Rhodesmustfall and #Feesmustfall campaigns in higher education institutions in South Africa during 2015 and 2016 have brought into sharp focus questions about the decolonisation of the curriculum. In this debate, history plays an important role. This panel will seek to understand the status and nature of history of and in teacher education. Do what extent can the approaches adopted since democracy in 1994 be characterised as decolonised? Although teacher education has been desegregated, we don’t know exactly what has changed and how it has changed in the various education institutions. While there has been some research into the nature of the history curriculum and history education research in post-apartheid South Africa, there is a lacuna as far as the status and nature of what counts as history education in history teacher training is concerned.

In 1988 a PhD thesis by Peter Randall had shown that a traditional Eurocentric orthodoxy prevailed in all but three universities in the teaching of history of education and that the approach was modelled on orthodoxies developed in the USA and UK in the 1920s and 1930s. Both Kallaway (2012) and Cross et al (2008) decried the decline of a radical political economy of history in the immediate post-apartheid years and that Kallaway saw as a contemporary denial of history within education. According to this argument, neo-liberalism and the marketization of higher education since 1994 was responsible for this trend. Although Kallaway considers some of the research that has occurred since 1994 in history of education, neither he nor Cross et al look at what has emerged as history of and in education in teacher education curricula since the 2000s and whether indeed there have been continuities or discontinuities in this area with what Randall observed in 1988.

This panel will deepen this analysis to look at what is being taught in South African faculties of education in both history of education and history for education. Papers in the panel are based on a project based on analysis of interviews conducted across South Africa’s universities, as well as course outlines and assessments and textbooks and resources used. It will focus on two aspects of history teacher training: contextual dynamics impacting on the humanities, and specifically history of education, and the nature of the curriculum with respect to de-coloniality and historical thinking and the relation between these three dimensions. In history of education, the focus is on whether it is taught, where it is taught, what is taught by whom and how it is taught. History Methodology courses are examined to assess the nature of historical thinking and understanding taught to prospective history teachers. Understandings of the coloniality of knowledge production will be a key consideration. The work of Sebastian Conrad on Eurocentrism and Achille Mbembe on the coloniality of knowledge production processes will inform the nature of the analysis. Here the emphasis is on the conceptualisation of agency and the entanglement of knowledge production processes with colonialism. It will be necessary to work with a definition of colonialism that recognises continuities in power relations and representations between past and present, colonial and post-colonial periods. Within this approach, localisation of content is not adequate to signal de-colonialisation – what is also required is understanding of the relation between who writes and different interpretive approaches to the teaching of history of education.

Implications of higher education financing for history of education

Queenta Anyele Sindoh and Natasha Bambo, University of Johannesburg

This paper will consider the impact of contextual changes in the wider university and teacher education environment for on the one hand the status of history of education in Faculties of Education and on the other the impact on quality. Contextual changes will include the financing of higher education and specifically teacher education, and what this means, in conjunction with the low status of teacher education, for the quality of history of education. The quality will be assessed in terms of staffing and qualifications in this area. The link to and implications for decolonisation and Africanisation will be explored. The paper will use secondary sources to analyse the broader financing and policy issues and link this to the primary interview material gathered in the course of the project.

How Decolonised is History of Education in Faculties of Education?

Linda Chisholm, University of Johannesburg

This paper will examine what is taught from the perspective of interpretive traditions that have been established over time in South African history. It will do so through an analysis of the interviews conducted with lecturers in history of education as well as assessments, textbooks and resources. The paper will argue that while new textbooks produced since 2000 reproduce with minor modifications a Eurocentric orthodoxy focused on an unproblematized history of the evolution of public schooling, on the whole lecturers either do not use them or modify them and that African agency in education struggles is a strong theme. Whereas the textbooks largely use an older historiography, many lecturers draw on more recent historiographies. A problem across the board is the isolation however from the mainstream discipline and changes in it.

Historical Thinking in the Training of Teachers for History in South Africa

Michelle Friedman, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

This paper seeks to identify whether history educators in higher education institutions are still rooted in a tradition which is curriculum-bound, with little emphasis on historical thinking and understanding, or whether they have embraced historical thinking as a way of dealing with historical issues in the classroom. It aims to do so through a thorough examination of the assessment practices of history educators in South African universities. Current thinking and research on teaching and learning of history in the classroom has challenged the assumption that history teaching can be neatly divided into two separate parts: content and process. In contrast, historical thinking is a process which engages with the past as “an epistemological and cultural act that conveys deep and sometimes unintended messages about what it means to be historical in modern society”. By evaluating the assessment practices of history educators, it is possible to see how student history teachers are being developed and what approaches they will carry forward into the classroom. The paper will argue that while some progressive approaches are assessed in some of universities, there is little consistency throughout the higher education institutions in South Africa.

PANEL 2

Reflecting on SAERA’s progress and thinking about the way forward

Sechaba Mahlomaholo (Convenor), Shireen Motala, Lesley Wood, Carol Bertram and Aslam Fataar

Presentations: 08:30 – 09:00

Research with development for equity

Mellony Graven, Rhodes University

South Africa is a nation of extreme socio-economic and educational inequality. Three aspects of this context are important in understanding why it is essential that educational research and development be intertwined. The first is South Africa’s post-apartheid (1994) education context in which performance and opportunity gaps still persist along racial lines. The second is the in-service teacher education context, which – while aiming to support teachers in implementing three post-1994 cycles of curriculum revision – has attracted criticism for having failed to provide appropriate kinds of support, and thus, of largely alienating teachers. The third is the education research context, and particularly mathematics education research, which mostly tells deficit stories both of learner performance and of teacher practice. In relation to each of these contextual aspects, establishing non-exploitative and trusting partnerships with teachers and communities in which meaningful dialogue and joint investigation, informed by a range of stakeholder perspectives, is essential for navigating what might be possible within our current context of a stubbornly persistent education crisis. In this presentation I will briefly explain each of these aspects. I then share the design of the South African Numeracy Chair Project (SANCP). This project was set up to enable a powerful dialectical relationship between research and development through merging the two in a network that has created multiple opportunities for dialogue across stakeholders, dialogue that has focused on mutual learning towards addressing the challenges of elementary mathematics learning.

In this presentation, therefore, I share the learning trajectories of three SANCP participants. I argue that establishing a network of development programs is not just an ethical ‘nice to do give-back’ to research participants. These partnerships enable access to data and stakeholder perspectives that would be inaccessible without the relationships developed in these spaces of collaboration, thereby strengthening the design of more appropriate research projects and leading to richer and more valid research findings. In these collaborative spaces dialogue and active participation among all participants is critical in the joint enterprise of finding sustainable ways forward to the educational challenges.

Learners Real-Life Views on Secondary School Discipline in Kgetlengriver of the North West Province

Koboetsile Innocentia Matlawe, North-West University
Joyce Phikisile Dhlamini, North-West University

The disruptive behavior of learners in schools has becomes so unbearable to such an extent that it disrupts the smooth running of the activities and programmes that are to happen on daily basis in the school. Such misconduct also hampers the process of effective teaching and learning which is the core-business in the institution. The level of learner ill-discipline has become so unbearable to the educators, parents, learners and the Department of Education. Special reference to this paper is made on the real-life views of the secondary school learners on their misconduct. The study was underpinned by the Choice theory in fostering discipline. Further the discussion embrace the choices that learner’s portray in secondary schools which determine their manner of behavior. What issues do learners view as good or acceptable behavior and those that they view as bad or non-acceptable behavior? Qualitative research approach was used to collect data from (16) secondary schools in Kgetlengriver Area in Ngaka Modiri Molema District of the North West Province. Purposive sampling was used to select (114) participants for the study. Participants consisted of learner-component of the School Governing Body and School Management Team. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with focus groups from the schools. The study concluded that there is lack /insufficient participation of learners in SGB therefore learners are not involved in the decision making process. The study also indicated misunderstanding of the policies including South African Schools Act 108 of 1996 (SASA).

“Teacher leadership development: A step towards a collective school leadership”

D. K. Iyambo

Educational policies in Namibia indicate that principals should involve teachers in decision-making in the execution of the activities in the School Development Plan. However, to this end, the goals envisaged by the policies on teachers’ ability to participate in and contribute to school leadership activities have not been fully realised. This study seeks to explore how teacher leadership can be developed in a rural Secondary School in northern Namibia. It aims at surfacing the underlying cultural-historical conditions that may promote or constrain teacher leadership development, and identify ways of creating opportunities for changes within the mindset of participants through change laboratories. Thus, the following research questions will guide my study: How is teacher leadership development understood by teachers and SMT members? What leadership roles do teachers currently fulfill? What are the conditions that promote or constrain teacher leadership in the school?, and How can teacher leadership be developed through change laboratories?

Using 2nd generation CHAT as a theoretical and analytical framework (Engeström, 1987), and critical realism as under-labourer, this study is designed as an interventionist case study. I will employ document analysis, semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and change laboratories as main tools for data collection. The collected data will be analyzed using Grant’s Model of Teacher Leadership (2012) and the emerging contradictions will be mirrored during change laboratory workshops. The data will be triangulated to enhance validity. Findings from this study can bring about change towards teacher leadership development practice within the school and contribute to the body of knowledge in general.

From Mono-Ethnic To Multi-Ethnic Learning Environments: Teachers’ Perceptions And Experiences

Logamurthie Athiemoolam, Annaline Vermaak

After 1994 the demographics of former White schools (referred to as ex-Model C schools) became increasingly multi-ethnic as learners from the former ex-Indian, Coloured and African schools enrolled at these schools. During the formative years of desegregating former white schools there were numerous reports of racism involving teachers, learners and the school as a whole especially directed against learners of colour. It is with this background in mind that this study sought to establish how teachers, who taught at former whites- only schools during apartheid, experienced having to teach in desegregated (former Model-C schools) after the demise of apartheid.

The study adopted a qualitative approach using a phenomenological design. The sample comprised 4 teachers from each of 4 ex- Model C co-ed schools (formerly White schools).   Data collection involved in-depth interviews with 16 teachers to establish how they experienced the changes and the kinds of teaching strategies they implemented to cater for increased diversity in their classrooms. The interviews were transcribed and analysed thematically to examine the common trends relating to teachers’ experiences in multicultural schools at present. The findings indicate that although teachers generally have adapted well to the multicultural schools, they continued to use the same strategies used pre-1994 and favoured the colour-blind and business as usual approaches.

The study proposes that teachers make more concerted efforts to embrace culturally relevant pedagogies such as the use of Howard Gardner’s principles of multiple intelligences, the universal design for learning and the multiple perspectives of reality. The use of radical approaches such as that of Augusto Boal’s forum theatre and Freire’s problem based learning are also proposed, as they represent strategies that would enable learners to both co-construct and question knowledge.

Re-imagining an African University of the future: The question of languages and agency

Mashatole Abram, Letsoalo Pamla, Malatji Reneilwe

Despite large section of the country’s school-going population being multilingual, means of accessing academic discourse, content and academic materials in South African institutions of higher learning are still heavily monolingual. This is still the case despite somewhat progressive legislative framework in support of multilingualism and diversity.

As part of the discussion around language development and re-imagination of academic spaces, the notion of intellectualization has become a unifying stance among academics interested. The concept is highly fluid and not straightforward when used in relation to African languages. The consensus among researchers is that intellectualization relates to multi-varied layers of interventions aimed at modernizing the corpus, expanding the social functions, and the eventual development of historically marginalized languages, to enable them to grow in social functions and domains of usage. Arguably, when a language is fully intellectualized it can thus function in much more intellectual spaces, and those involving knowledge development and for varied epistemological purposes in the fields of education, media and other prestigious domains.

This paper re-imagine and posit language intellectualization as probable and key component which is instrumental to the decolonization of academic spaces and institutional language practices. Nested within practice at the University of Limpopo, experiences will be elucidated to show how practitioners can strengthen the interface between 1) institutional and practitioner agency, 2) and how to take advantage of the catalytic role played by changes and shifts in legislation and institutional reforms, and the intellectual space opened by the decolonization movement in the South African higher Education.

Resisting higher education’s revolution in South Africa: Dreams of Decolonising Education

Vuyisile Msila

The South African higher education landscape is currently being associated with transformation agenda. Furthermore, transformation and change nomenclature is being tossed by university staff, students and various other role-players that seek to follow the trail of progress in higher education. Never before have education role-players experienced the ripples of the evolving environment evident in some institutions of higher learning today. However, years after the attainment of political freedom, new forms of resistance seek to halt the revolution necessary in the transformation of institutions. Arguably, the search for a decolonised system has become synonymous with the call for an emancipatory form of education. The student movements have been the driving force for change in 2015 as the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall heralded a new struggle for transformation. Pragmatic students sought immediate solutions that were not always possible.

Transformation usually encounters several obstacles which may come from inside or outside an institution. It may also not happen because of several reasons including lack of the sense of urgency, communication that does not occur between various departments at the university. In our universities today there have been numerous reasons for the delay of the introduction of decolonisation of knowledge, indigenisation and Africanisation. Frequently the debates on this have led to uncertainty and academics have become disparaging to some of these concepts. But in the struggle to create responsive campuses it may not be possible to terminate the revolution in higher education institutions.

The transformation of higher education institutions though is multifaceted and complex. In South African institutions we can be referring to some or all of the following; staff equity, student equity, knowledge, pedagogies and language, governance and management, funding and ICTs. This paper explores some of these transformation processes and how some of the hindrances can be overcome.

Presentations: 09:00 – 09:30

The School Curriculum: Working Towards Social Justice For Historically Disadvantaged Learners

Larey Desireé Pearl, University of the Free State (South Africa)

This presentation aims to explore the school knowledge codes embedded in the theoretical underpinnings of the recent curriculum statements in South African schools. The presentation also opts for alternative curriculum mandates for the current Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).

Global educational development across many nations has seen calls to regain focus on issues of knowledge in curriculum. Key players include Social Realists´ argue for ´bringing knowledge back in´. Zipin, Fataar and Brennan (2015:10) comment that South Africa´s recent national curriculum (CAPS) is significantly influenced by arguments of bringing knowledge back in. For this reason I am engaging in the curriculum debate specifically to explore what the theoretical bases CAPS bring about.

Nonetheless, I will firstly take part in standpoint relativism (epistemological relativism) as a means to explain what theoretical base underpinning the previous national curriculum named Outcomes-Based Education entail. Secondly, I will proceed to engage in notions of neutrality and objectivity to explore ways of enquiries that warrants scientific knowledge to be centred in the current national curriculum, named the social realism orientation. Finally, I will put forward critical realism as conceptualised by Roy Bhaskar (1979), to engage in explanatory critique as revenues of interpreting reality/the world and ultimately the curriculum.

A literature review was undertaken to theorise on the various theoretical frames used in the research. In presenting these debates on the warrants for curriculum knowledge selection, my aim is to offer alternative curriculum mandates, which can contribute to on-going debates about social justice and curriculum practices for historically disadvantaged learners.

Strategies to control school violence: An analysis of the South African school system

Kwaramba Ratidzai, Helen Dunbar-Krige

The school environment should be one where there is harmonious coexistence among learners. Many strategies have been applied in dealing with violence in schools, but in some areas incidents of violence are still high. Educators frequently have to waste precious teaching and learning time in trying to deal with the deviant acts. In light of this, it seems that the current strategies of dealing with the problem are not enough of a deterrent. The SASA Act (1996) was designed to guide schools and school governing bodies on how to deal with disciplinary issues in order to enhance the smooth running of schools. However, the practicality of some of these strategies is questionable as they tend to be tertiary interventions rather than primary interventions. Where educators adhere to SASA’s recommendation that there should be an established code of conduct at schools, they often find that the protection of one right might infringe on another right. Learners who experiment and push the boundaries of acceptable behaviour often know their ‘rights’ and exploit this to the disadvantage of others who adhere to the code of conduct. Both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Bill of Rights (1996) in the South African Constitution provide the child with the right to protection. The dilemma facing educators is whether the measures taken to protect such learners from violence impinge on the perpetrator’s right to education. This paper builds on the extensive research into school violence done nationally and internationally. It envisions making sense of the strategies used in most schools to enforce the school code of conduct which are mainly detentions, suspensions and expulsions. This paper will also seek to analyse whether the approaches used take into account the unique individual differences and circumstances or whether a one-size-fits-all approach is taken.

A strategy for professional development of newly appointed principals

Thembekile Ntshangase

The aim of the study is to design a strategy for Professional Development of Newly Appointed Principals (PDNAPs). Every year principals are appointed to manage schools, and are expected to perform their duties properly and effectively. Even though they are keen to perform their duties efficiently they cannot improve the quality of work because of the challenges they seem to encounter which challenge their knowledge; to mention a few: handling school finances, ill-discipline of learners, personnel and curriculum management. To be appointed to this position does not require someone to have a specific qualification for principalship position. Van der Westhuizen and Van Vuuren (2007:432) argue that this particular need (Professionalisation of principalship) has been part of a discussion among educational leaders for the past thirty to forty years. This shows that despite all these efforts to design a framework for professional development of principals, it is still neglected. Therefore this study seeks to explore challenges that newly appointed principal face that hinder their professional development, to design a strategy to respond to these challenges, to explore contextual conditions, identify threats and to identify the indicators of success. Ubuntu is a theoretical framework which has been used as a lens through which the study is couched. Ubuntu emphasises collaboration, team work, oneness and kindness. In order to design an innovative strategy to enhance the roles of principals as managers, a qualitative research approach employing most principles of Participatory Action Research (PAR) was used; PAR as a methodological approach enabled a collaborative working environment to be ensured between the researcher and co-researchers in one education district. Discussions were used characterised by open-ended discussions to allow the co-researchers to explore the topic. Meetings were held on Saturdays in a convenient venue by the team.  Generated data was analysed by looking at the good practices embarking on policies, theories the previous research using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) that analysis using three levels: Textual, Discursive and Socio-structural practice levels; to scrutinize the challenges facing professional development of NAPs. The study find out that the principals and all other relevant stakeholders should work collaboratively towards professional development, to promote partnership, empowerment and emancipation of NAPs. Once these findings are implemented; schools will be better managed by NAPs. In conclusion the implementation of the ideas will eradicate problems in the area under study and later to all South African schools. So, the study confirms the need for designing a strategy for professional development of newly appointed principals.

Decolonising Race in South Africa: A Fanonian and Freirean view point

Stephen Phiri

This paper claims that racism is undoubtedly the foundation upon which colonialism has prospered and assumed its nature and characteristics. Hence, a rethinking of issues associated with conceptions of race is simultaneously a decolonisation process. It is impossible if not inconceivable to think of racism in the post-apartheid without making a reference to the colonial nature of the practice.  It is beyond dispute that the issue of race and identity is still the bone of contention in post-Apartheid South Africa. A lot has been written and done in this regard but this paper argues that from what has been accomplished no effective and workable recommendations have been successfully put forward. The paper challenges the prevailing recommendations and proposals to be revised beyond anger and emotions. Such an endeavour does not perceive anger and emotions as irrelevant but pushes to re-channel them in ways that support emancipatory strategies that serves to unlearn racial stereotypes. The paper proposes not a solution but a foundation of a thinking process which seeks to understand the problem before we attempt to propose a solution. The paper will look at three critical areas of concern namely 1) A general overview of Race and its colonial implications, 2) A brief history of racial tension in South Africa, and 3) A survey of controversal instances on ab(uses) of race and Racism in post-apartheid South Africa. Finally a Freirean and Fanonian framework of analysis will be deployed as the light to expose the underlying difficulties to the prevailing issue of racism in South Africa.

Language Compensation: A Number for Some or Education for All?

Marco MacFarlane

Umalusi, the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training in South Africa, is heavily involved in the standardisation of school-exit examinations as mandated by the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act, (Act 58, 2001). The standardisation of examinations is a necessary practice aimed at ensuring that fluctuations in examination difficulty from year to year are statistically moderated. By standardising scores across years it becomes possible to interpret a given result on an examination in a similar way year to year.

In South Africa in 2007, some 22 978 of the 24 979 ordinary public schools in South Africa – so 92% of all public schools – used English as the language of learning and teaching (LoLT). This is in contrast to the language profile of the population, for whom English is the ‘home language’ or ‘mother tongue’ for just 9.6% of South Africans (StatsSA, 2012). Since the majority of South African learners must write their school leaving examinations in English, those for whom English is not their mother tongue are been awarded up to 5% additional marks during the standardisation process as ‘language compensation’.

This paper seeks to argue that while language compensation is clearly an imperative in the skewed language landscape present in South Africa, such compensation should take the form of direct interventions in terms of learners’ language skills, rather than being confined to a statistical adjustment at examination time. This paper proposes a comprehensive ‘language across the curriculum’ approach based on the principles of Core Academic Language Skills as identified by Uccelli and her team in 2013.

In concluding, the paper argues for the position that every teacher is a language teacher, and all learners require specific instruction in school-relevant language forms and functions irrespective of their language status.

Decolonization: Solution to Learning Challenges in South Africa

Chinaza Uleanya and Bongani Gamede

The study investigated the causes of poor quality learning experienced by undergraduate students in a selected South African university. Survey research design was adopted for this study. The population of the study comprised undergraduate students and academic staff members of the selected institution. 400 undergraduate students and 8 academic staff members were randomly selected as sample for the study. Data analysis indicated language of Instruction, previous education background, students’ family social economic background, poor infrastructure and poor time management as the factors hampering the quality of education received by students in the selected institution. Based on the findings, the study recommends decolonization and restructuring of education being offered to students in African universities and partnership between universities and corporate establishments to enhance productivity and innovation, as well as meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.

Presentations: 09:30 – 10:00

Decolonizing research approaches: Amplifying Afrikan ways of knowing

Molebatsi Milton Nkoane, University of the Free State

This scholarly piece seeks to amplify the Afrikan ways of knowing and knowledge constructions. For this artefact Afrikan means of knowing is created within discourses, in narrow spaces of relational conversations and lived experiences. This paper avers that decolonisation could be understood  as a process whereby Afrikans positions themselves firmly in the ever shriking spaces of contested global discourses. The paper trouble discourses of coloniality and traditional practices of research approaches by askig the following questions:

  • how to decolonise research approaches?
  • how to locate research approaches within Afrikan knowledge systems?
  • how to locate studies within Afrikan Theoretical Frameworks?

Moreover, this paper draws attention to ways in which the dominant discourses of the global north have corner the market  and the bounds for interpretation of realities. This paper makes assertions that Afrikan way of knowing and research approaches should be linked with Afrikan cultural and societal realities. This paper settles the apex by making assertions that any form of knowledge is culture and context relative. For this scholarly piece Afrikan ways of knowing means knowledge grounded into Afrikan communities and cultures, and this ways of knowing should draw an inspiration from the Afrikan context. Decolonisation of research approaches should be able to offer to  people of Afrika, to the world, and global body of knowledge what Harvard, Oxford and Edinbrug have contributed to the global body of knowledge.

An investigation into how leadership can be developed within a group of Class Monitors in a Public Secondary School, in rural Namibia

Tomas Kalimbo

Within all modern societies, there are groups that find it difficult to gain equality of opportunity and social justice in national education systems (O’Hanlon, 2003). Adopting a distributed perspective to leadership, this study aims at investigating how leadership can be developed within a group of class monitors in a secondary school in rural Namibia. This will be achieved by finding answers to the following questions: How are the concepts learner leadership and leadership development perceived in the school? What are the current roles of class monitors and what leadership development opportunities exist for them? What are the enabling and constraining mechanisms influencing leadership development of class monitors? And how can class monitors be empowered to assume leadership roles within the school? Theoretically and analytically, Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), under laboured by Critical Realism, frames the study. This will thus be an interventionist study, seeking not only to understand the phenomenon of leadership development within class monitors, but also to transform the practice in order to empower them to assume leadership. Data will be collected using qualitative methods such as questionnaires, interviews, document analysis and observations while data analysis will take the form of CHAT, content analysis, coding and categorising.

School Heads of Department’ perceptions about ethical leadership in KwaZulu-Natal rural schools

Nozibusiso Nomvula Mthembu, Siphiwe Eric Mthiyane

Inevitably, schooling is a significant tool for nurturing future generations. Consequently, in addition to being institutional managers, school principals and Heads of Departments need to be moral agents because school leadership can no longer be conceptualised in terms of technical efficiency only but also as a moral and an ethical activity. In this paper, we report the findings of a small scale qualitative study that attempted to explore the conceptualisations, experiences and practices of the school Heads of Department (HoDs) regarding ethical leadership of school principals in four rural schools in the Zululand District, KwaZulu-Natal. Four HoDs were purposively and conveniently identified for the study. Social constructivism was deemed an appropriate lens to analyse data which was generated through semi-structured interviews with the said participants. Before the study was conducted, all issues of trustworthiness and ethical protocols were observed and participants were appraised of their rights (anonymity and confidentiality). Content analysis was used to analyse the data. Theoretically, the study is framed by a combination of two theories, namely: Shapiro and Stefkovich’s (2005) Model of Ethical Leadership and Khoza’s (2011) Attuned Leadership Model (African Humanism – Ubuntu). The study found that trustworthiness, fairness, having a “strong backbone” and to be principled were regarded as important traits of an ethical leader. However, the findings seem to suggest that most of the Heads of Department perceived their school principals as not ethical and that they could not be trusted, especially with school finances. They also indicated that they were not well informed, dishonest and authoritative thus were struggling to influence the ethical behaviour of their educators.

Inclusive education in/for the postcolonial context

Dikeledi Mahlo

Training pre-service teachers tend to come with a number of challenges that need to be overcome if pre-service teachers are to practice inclusive education in schools.  The main problem has been failure by pre-service teachers to deal with diverse needs of learners during their teaching practice. The objective of this qualitative study focused on answering the key research question, ‘What are the teacher education initiatives undertaken by higher institutions of learning to prepare trainee teachers to teach learners with diverse needs in schools?’ A phenomenological design was employed to collect data through qualitative methods, namely semi-structured interviews, observation and focus group discussion. The respondents were five qualified teachers who had trainee teachers during teaching practice in their classrooms and   three trainee teachers from distance and three from contact institutions of higher learning. The findings revealed that the practical component of inclusive education was missing in the teacher preparation programmes, while students from contact universities were doing one module of inclusive education to enable trainee teachers to teach learners who experience barriers to learning. It was recommended that, the curriculum for teacher preparation in universities should be reviewed so that it includes a practical component of inclusive education.

 

 

Mazibuye izilimi zomdabu:  Voices of Grade Four Teachers

Mweli, P

The language of learning and teaching poses a threat to quality teaching and learning of most indigenous children, in Africa and particularly in South Africa. The majority of these learners have not reached English proficiency level for them to use it as the language of learning and teaching (LoLT). The study is to explore Grade Four teachers lived experiences in teaching English second language learners using English as the medium of instruction in South African primary schools. Further, the study argue for the use of indigenous languages to teach English second language learners. A qualitative approach was used to interrogate the research phenomenon. Five focus groups interviews sessions were conducted, followed by documentary analysis. The sample constituted of twenty grade four teachers, who were selected from semi-rural, and urban schools within Pinetown district and UMgungundlovu district. Thematic analysis was employed to arrive at the overall findings which point out that teachers are struggling to teach the majority of ESL learners at grade four level using English as the language of instruction. Moreover, most English second language learners are not ready for language transition from mother tongue teaching to English. The main conclusion of the study is that teaching and learning of indigenous children should be done through indigenous languages as medium of instruction.

Utilising Decolonisation to Manage Multigrade Classes in Secondary Schools

Solomon Modiba

 

Panel discussions: 10:15 – 11:45

PANEL 3

Decolonising the science curriculum: Interrogating perspectives, possibilities and challenges

Eunice Nyamupangedengu
Megan Doidge
Audrey Msimanga
Caleb Mandikonza
Mpunki Nakedi
Elizabeth Mavhunga

Decolonising the science curriculum? What does it really mean? What exactly needs to be decolonized? Is it the content? Is it the pedagogy? Is it the language of teaching and learning or is it everything? If it is the content, does it mean transforming the content or replacing it with indigenous knowledge or what? Are there pedagogies more suited to the diverse South African context? These are some of the questions that we are grappling with as we join in the debates about decolonizing the curriculum. The mode of our presentation is exploratory, where we generate questions and debates through several case studies all with a gaze on: Where are we now? Where do we see ourselves going and how are we going to get there? The case studies illustrate issues around culture and content, the use of technology in teaching, the place of religion in science teaching and learning and the need to develop pedagogical content knowledge during Initial Teacher Education. The purpose of presenting this panel discussion is to create a space for sharing perspectives, challenges and possibilities on what it means to decolonize the science curriculum.

Framing questions:

1.  Nestled in broader global debates, what constitutes decolonization in the South African Science Teacher Education context?

2.  Can science knowledge be decolonized, if so, how?

3.  What is science knowledge for and what are we trading off within the current discourse of decolonisation?

4.  How is our thinking about curriculum transformation and decolonization influencing our teaching and learning practices as we prepare science educators for the 21 st century?

 

Research Capacity Development Workshop

Developing Research Proposals

Labby Ramnath

 

SIG Assessment and Testing

Application of assessment to improve teaching and learning in Higher Education

Anil Kanjee, Caroline Long, Zanele Dube

 

Presentations: 10:15 – 10:45

Education Research and the Post-Colonial Underdevelopment of Africa

Joel Samoff

Education plans, education sector analyses, and education support programs across Africa now have a required formula. Whatever the authors present as the desired outcome and preferred strategy must be preceded by: “Research shows that . . . .” Research has become the currency and often the ammunition of education development.

Education researchers should be pleased. Grounded knowledge is to inform policy and practice. Researchers are to be at the centre of the action. Not so, Or at best, rarely so. Rhetoric obscures reality.

In this setting, most often research is used to justify decisions taken for other reasons, to legitimize, not inform or shape policy. Regularly, research claims constrain rather than expand the education and development discussions, especially through their embedded but unstated constructs and perspectives. Regularly, reported research findings legitimize weak propositions and entrench flawed understandings. Regularly, enthusiasm about particular research findings seeds and fertilizes theoretical and analytic fads. Regularly, research findings treat education primarily as technique and administration. In that process, research claims mystify knowledge and power relations and promote orthodoxy at the expense of critical inquiry.

I am concerned here with the intersection of foreign aid, education research, and the education policy process in Africa, though many of the observations are relevant to settings where external assistance plays a more limited role.

Where funding and other support for education research are sorely inadequate and constrained by narrow constructions of relevance and fit, foreign aid assumes a dramatic new role in the post-colonial underdevelopment of Africa. While the volume of the aid and its conditions matter, even more important is its localization. The internalization of advice and its embedded values, assumptions, ideas, and priorities both make the policies and preferences of the foreign funders far more consequential than the volume of their assistance and at the same time clothe them in a national suit, obscuring their external origins and increasing their legitimacy. Even where education research funding is more substantial, the direct and indirect influence of the external funding agencies may be less noticed but equally powerful.

Periodic international conventions on the orientation and forms of external support do not address the structured disabilities and dysfunctions of the aid system. Drawing on several decades of research on and involvement in the aid system, my primary concern here is to challenge conventional, and some unconventional, wisdom about foreign aid and thereby to develop a multi-threaded critical analytic strategy.

Learner voice in leadership: A case study in a newly established high school in Namibia

Linda Amadhila

A case study with a qualitative design will be conducted on the topic of learner leadership in a newly established high school in Namibia, focusing on the Learner Representative Council (LRC). The study aims to develop leadership and invoke voice within the structure of the LRC through change laboratories. This is because from my experience as a high school teacher for nine years, I have observed little leadership opportunity within the structure of LRC. This means that LRC members are still rarely contacted in decision-making because teachers often speak on behalf of learners (Grant & Nekondo, 2016). The elective learner body – the LRC – at some Namibian schools exists purely for the sake of adhering to the Educational Act but authentic inclusion of learners in organisational decision-making does not often happen. This contradiction between policy and practice interested me and was the stimulus to carry out a study to explore leadership development opportunities for learners in a school, and, in so doing, expand my knowledge on learner leadership. The study will use interpretive methods under-laboured by Critical Realism because this study is concerned not only with understanding and describing but also intervening in order to promote learner voice and leadership in the school. Document analysis, interviews, questionnaires, observations and change laboratory workshops will be used to generate data in response to the over-arching research question: How can learner voice and leadership be developed in the school? The study’s sub-questions are: How is learner leadership understood in the school? What leadership development opportunities for the LRC currently exist in the school? In what ways can LRC participation in the change laboratories contribute to their leadership development? What underlying factors enable or constrain the development of learner voice and leadership? The study will be theoretically and analytically framed by Cultural Historical Activity Theory‘s second generation which has the potential to surface contradictions within and between the elements of the activity system.

Leadership development with an LRC in a Namibian state Secondary school

Rolens Da Silva

The Namibia Education Act (Act No. 16 of 2001) mandates state secondary school learners to be included in school leadership through a body of learners known as the Learners’ Representative Council (LRC). The few studies carried out on the LRC in schools reveal that very little has been achieved in terms of learner leadership development. This study will seek to explore and provide insight into possible reasons for this, and suggest possible ways forward. The research questions driving the study are: How is learner leadership currently understood and practised in the school? What are the enabling and constraining factors in the school as far as learner leadership development is concerned? And What can be done to promote learner leadership development?

This study will be an interpretive case study of learner leadership in the LRC in a Namibian state secondary school in the Oshana region. It will use the Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT). Data will be collected through document analysis, open-ended questionnaires, interviews and observation. Content and discourse analysis will be used to analyze the data. The findings will provide a platform from which meaningful learner leadership development programmes may be launched, and the study plans to make useful recommendations in this regard.

Cognitive justice and the adequate use of the principles of good teaching

Makeresemese Qhosola

The papers contributes to a persistent call for the teaching and learning in the classroom which is accessible and equitable to the orientation of learners as knowers. Because, such learners are expected to be in the forefront of their learning in an effort to realise quality education, as highlighted by various curriculum policies.  The paper demonstrates that it is only when there is a freedom of knowledge in the classroom that the above expected quality education can be realised and be beneficial to all. The paper used the already available principles of good teaching, that are representing a proven teaching practice, as a guide for teachers to practise good teaching in terms of legislative frameworks of a democratic country in particular South Africa. These principles are documented in NQF level descriptors that is published by the South African Qualification Authority. Therefore, the paper analyses the adequate use of principles of good teaching as way of creating spaces for the cognitive justice to be realised in the process of teaching and learning. The paper maintains that it is through the above mention principles that teachers may be able to create the environment where all knowledges co-exist and complements each other, in a sense that there is an enabling dialogue between these knowledges. The lens couching this paper is Critical Accounting Research (CAR), since it believes in the alternative indigenous knowledge of the marginalised and the voiceless groups, by believing that it should also co-exist with other knowledge’s without having being made to fit in the structure of the dominating western knowledge’s in the classroom. Furthermore, CAR perceives the co-existence and dialogue of knowledges as a way to contribute to a more sustainable, equitable and democratic world, by extension becoming beneficial to all. The paper uses Participatory Action Research (PAR) method to operationalize CAR, Through PAR, dialogues and discussions with the focused groups are conducted. The results are analysed through Critical Discourse Analysis, as it allows for the use of text by participants. The paper concludes that, principles of good teaching, represent excellence and are flexible to many knowledge’s and are compatible with the democratic principles such as hope, peace, freedom, equity and social justice. Thus, becoming handful principles towards the realisation of the cognitive justice in the classroom.

Learning to teach in multi-lingual contexts: student teachers experiences

Zahraa McDonald, Rada Jancic Mogliacci

South Africa, like many countries in the world, has more than one official language. Moreover mother tongue education is promoted in the first three school grades, according to the education language policy. Many learners however do not attend a school that caters for their home language as medium of instruction. Different permutations of home language (of learners) versus medium of instruction (in classroom) in South African classrooms thus have a major impact on the capacity of teachers to deliver the curriculum. This paper explores what the South African multi-lingual context means for student teachers learning to teach in early school grades. The paper presents findings from quantitative and qualitative research gathered in a study that examines student teachers experiences of learning to teach at three teacher education institutions in South Africa. The findings demonstrate that the multi-lingual context of South Africa is complex, presenting student teachers with challenges for learning to teach mathematics as well as literacy. Moreover the findings suggest that the multi-lingual context means something different for student teachers from different institutions. The paper concludes by considering what this means for teacher education as well as the induction of novice teachers into the profession specifically and education language policy broadly. The findings and implications of this paper would be relevant to teacher education and development in any multi-lingual context.

The legitimate knower in Educational leadership and Management Master’s (ELM) programmes in South Africa

Farhana Amod Kajee

Educational leadership and Management Master’s programmes in South Africa are distinctly uneven. This paper draws on a doctoral study examining coursework Master’s programmes in ELM at six South African universities who currently offer the programme. Focussing on curricula has a transformatory agenda. This study employs Maton’s (2014) Legitimation Code Theory as an explanatory framework to help surface the organising principles that shape different curricula by examining knowledge and knower structures that characterise these programmes. The data was gathered through content analysis of course outlines and interviews with co-ordinators of the programmes. This paper argues that issues of access, the positioning of students through pedagogical approaches and assessment practices embraced indicate how knowers are envisaged and what it takes to become a legitimate knower in these programmes. Firstly, the paper begins by describing these practices that result in a particular ‘gaze’ being privileged which ‘gives voice to students’ and inculcates them into the ELM discourse. The value placed on these practices towards the creation of an authentic learning environment and the development of an appropriate social disposition has implications for the promotion of a socially- just pedagogy.  Secondly, Maton’s concept of semantic gravity, which relates to how closely meaning is tied to its context was applied to analyse assessment practices. The movements from being contextually bound to fairly abstract and applicable beyond their contexts have implications for academic achievement. By making such organising principles visible and being explicit what it takes to become a legitimate knower, social justice is promoted. Finally, the paper concludes with implications and possible suggestions for future developments in the field.

Presentations: 10:45 – 11:15

How to ‘engage’ (or not): Deepening our understanding of university-school community engagement

Naydene De Lange, Avivit Cherrington, Andre du Plessis, Eileen Scheckle, Mathabo Khau

Engagement, alongside teaching and research, is recognised as one of the three key areas of university work. Positioning our project in an ‘engaged university’ discourse as well as a ‘decolonising research’ discourse, we conceptualised the engagement as ‘dialogic engagement’ intending to potentiate active citizenship – of the project team members (academics and postgraduate students) as well as the members of the rural school and community – within the context of education.  An open process of conversation within an Eastern Cape rural school education context enabled issues and concerns important to the community to emerge, also how they could be addressed. We used participatory visual methodology to enable such an open process of conversation. The data were generated with teachers, learners, School Governing Body members and some community members, using participatory methods such as drawing, photovoice, participatory video, digital storytelling, poetry, paper pool, and so on. Reflecting on our three year project we explore our new understanding of community engagement emerging from our project. Working from a critical paradigm and drawing on a collaborative self-study approach, we used drawings and open ended questions we created and posed to ourselves to think more deeply about the engagement in the project. Thematic analysis was used to analyse our visual and textual data. The findings point to the complexities of university-community engagement, drawing out key elements such as expectation, communication, relationship, and collaboration, but also problematizing power, process, participation and agency.  We conclude that engagement between university and school community pivots around authentic participation which underpins dialogic engagement enabling being creative and productive.

Transforming through engagement:- exploring learner leadership opportunities in a Namibian secondary school

Vaino, Loide M

Studying forms of leadership that listen to and attend to the  the voices of learners should be the most urgent issue of our times. This is because when learners feel that their contributions towards the school are unnoticed, they may develop negative feelings towards schooling and lose interest in school activities. This presentation addresses the gap in the literature by exploring learner leadership development opportunities, and consequently developing agency in learners through a Change Laboratory Workshop (CLW) intervention. This study of learner leadership was conducted in a secondary school in Omusati region in Namibia.  Drawing on distributed leadership theory, the study promotes the distribution of leadership opportunities amongst all educational stakeholders, particularly learners, as provided for by policy and anticipated by leadership theory. This kind of participation can prove to be transformative and “can provide opportunities for all children to learn in school communities that are socially just and deeply democratic” (Shields, 2004, p. 109-110). I argue that learners need to be given a voice as a commitment to democratic participation in leadership. Framed as an interpretive case study, the research also subscribes to a transformative agenda by attempting to bring about change in how the school perceives and practices learner leadership. Therefore, the study has generated data through observation, questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, document analysis, and CLWs underpinned by 2nd generation Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and the philosophical standpoint of critical realism. Finally, the findings from the research may enhance educators’ understanding and practices of learner leadership in schools.

The effectiveness of Principals in implementing IE using Ubuntu Approach

Nombuso Cherity Masondo

Shared school leadership and the promotion of teacher professional learning

Simangele Mkhwanazi, University of South Africa

A shift towards shared leadership is largely visible in the South African education reform context. Shared school leadership alludes to the shared work and commitment that shape the direction of the school and its learning improvement agenda. This paper addresses the experiences of the school leaders (principal, deputy principal, HODs) in one high school of KwaZulu-Natal province and their shared efforts towards promoting teacher professional learning in their schools. It asserts that these school leaders contribute to this role in different ways that, however, complement each other. The paper forms one part of a three-year study that aims to explore the roles, behaviour and practices of school leaders  and how they influence teacher professional learning in their schools with a view to improving their knowledge and skills in ways that demonstrably enhance teacher professional knowledge and teaching practice. It involves a qualitative, multiple-case study of three schools in two school circuits with three principals, three deputy principals, six heads of departments (HODs) and twelve educators as participants. One-on-one semi-structured interviews, non-participant observations and document analysis are data collection tools that are used to conduct this study. The inductive approach is used to analyse the data for the study. Study findings indicate that school leaders promote teacher learning through direct and hands-on involvement with their teachers. However, this direct involvement seems to be mainly from the heads of departments while principals are indirectly involved by creating the opportunities for teacher learning to occur.

Multilingualism in teacher preparation programmes: a decolonising strategy to enhance teaching and learning

N.N. Mayaba, M. Moeng

It is well established that classrooms today are multilingual and that children across the world grow in multilingual environments. However, there is paucity of studies on how teacher education programmes prepare teachers for such classrooms. Many curricula programmes continue to perpetuate a monolingual education without taking into consideration how multilingual speakers learn. Some theories of language learning also assume that children acquire language in monolingual settings. In thinking about the theme of the conference’ education in an era of decolonisation and transformation’, this paper  first discusses language ideologies and hierarchies and how these can be problematic if not addressed in preparing teachers for a 21st century classroom. We then discuss how we think about multilingualism as a decolonising strategy that enables access to knowledge and enhance teaching and learning. We conclude our presentation by sharing how we re-imagine a multilingual education for student teachers in the Faculty of Education at Nelson Mandela University.

Decolonizing university practice in an academic department: what does it mean for the leadership role of the Head of Department?

Callie Grant, JoAnne Vorster, Lynn Quinn

Central to the tumultuous student protests of 2015 and 2016 was an urgent call for the decolonization of South African universities. Curricula, teaching and learning practices as well as the structural and cultural conditioning of higher education institutions came under the spotlight. Against this backdrop of contestation and transformation, this paper focuses on the academic leadership role of the Head of Department (HOD) and asks how HODS conceptualise their role in the context of calls to decolonize higher education in South Africa. Drawing on cultural historical activity theory for its theoretical and analytical framing, this paper takes the form of a case study of the academic leadership role of the HOD at one higher education institution in the country. Data were sourced from institutional documentation, questionnaires as well as individual and focus group interviews with participating HODS.

Adopting an activity systems analysis, the paper identifies how the HODS (subjects) followed the object of the activity (leadership and management of their departments), mediated by a range of artifacts (slogans, documents, literature, teaching and learning materials) at their disposal. The rules (policies, departmental documents, vision statements), community (staff, students, university management) and division of labour (job descriptions, committees, fora) add the socio-cultural aspects of the mediated actions. The paper identifies the contradictions and tensions in the data, discusses how these might be overcome and, in so doing, makes some tentative suggestions about how this unenviable role might be reconceptualised.

Presentations: 11:15 – 11:45

Locating District Six in the rise of town planning as a practice

Faaiz Gierdien

How did District Six fit into the town planning of Cape Town during the early twentieth century, is the main question that I pursue in this article. I begin by pointing out how town planning became a profession with special reference to the influence of Empire on the Union of South Africa and beyond (Coetzer, 2016). The town planner came to be viewed as the ‘setter of architectural gems’ (Baker, 1911).This relationship between architecture and town planning played itself out in the Cape with a major concern for the ‘appearance’ of Cape Town as a ‘modern’ city. This can be traced to the influence of Raymond Unwin’s (1909) Town Planning in Practice, with its concerns for laissez faire spatial development. District Six and its rhizomatic disorder was a glaring example in this regard. Divided into three sections, the article starts out by reviewing literature on town planning as a professional practice. This is followed by critically examining how town planning made its way to South Africa and how it took root in the Cape, especially. I pay special attention to a colonial discourse associated with town planning stemming from architecture and a concern for Empire. In the final section there is a set of theoretical considerations that aim at enabling the reader with a view of understanding specific spatial arrangements in District Six which precedes the Nationalist Party coming to power in 1948 (Barnett, 1994, 1993). This, I argue, is critical in terms of thinking about life in District Six.

Building organisational capacity through a principals’ community of practice: implications for decoloniality

Patti Silbert

The development of effective school leadership and management is a critical component of whole-school development (Fullan 1992; Hopkins & Harris 1997; Harris 2002; Hopkins 2001 and others). However, the job of a school principal is demanding and isolating (Leithwood, Bauer & Riedlinger, 2009). The experience of ‘structural loneliness’ (original emphasis) for principals and the importance of belonging (Nias 1989) forms the rationale for this study.

This paper reports on an ongoing study initiated in 2015, which focuses on a principals’ community of practice to support school leaders in effecting, enhancing and sustaining their school improvement interventions. The principals’ community of practice was introduced through the Schools Improvement Initiative, a university-school partnership established between UCT and a group of schools in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. The notion of communities of practice as used in this study is borrowed from Hord and Sommers (2008) and Lave and Wenger (1998, 2008), and involved the support of a management specialist.  Using a qualitative, interpretative research methodology, data was drawn from interviews with the school principals. The two key themes that emerged from the data relate to personal growth resulting in increased capacity to initiate change, and professional growth resulting in organisational development within the schools. The data suggests that through establishing a trusting, collaborative forum, which combined peer support with the support of an external specialist, information and insight was shared and ultimately translated into action (Du Plessis 2008). By creating a space for collective dialogue principals were inspired to share experiences, disrupt existing practices and mobilise change, both at a personal and professional level.

Experiences of district based support team with regard to screening, identification, assessment and support policy implementation in Zululand district, KwaZulu Natal

Zulu, PD

Education White Paper 6 (DoE, 2001) describes the support at district level as central part of the overall strengthening of education support services in South Africa. The Department also set out to implement in an incremental way the main elements of an inclusive education system of which National policy on Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) is one. The SIAS like other key strategies of the policy aims to respond to the needs of all learners in the country, particularly those who are vulnerable and most likely to be marginalized and excluded (DoE, 2001).The aim of this research is to investigate the experiences of district based support team (DBST) with regard to screening, identification, assessment and support implementation in Zululand district, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.   The study is undertaken for the fulfilment of the Doctor of Philosophy in Education. In an effort to understand the DBST experiences of implementing SIAS policy, a qualitative research approach will be adopted in which a case study design will be employed. This small scale qualitative study will be conducted in Zululand district. The study will employ a case study design of which twelve district officials will be purposively and conveniently identified for the study. The study will employ social constructivism as research paradigm. Data will be generated through document review and analysis and also through semi-structured interviews. Content analysis will be used to analyse the data. Theoretically, the study is framed by William Edwards Deming’ PDCA Cycle: Plan, Do, Check, Act (Deming, 1986). Pilot testing will also be done preferably with people (district officials) who share the same characteristics as the actual participants of the study community but who live outside the study community (Henning, 2011, Punch, 2003).

A strategy to improve the implementation of school safety policies in selected schools

N.G Shozi

This study aims at designing a strategy to improve the implementation of school safety policies in selected schools in Osizweni. The challenge of safety policy implementation is prevailing in both primary and secondary schools in Osizweni and has led to deaths, critical injuries and job loses. The theoretical framework that informs this study is the social realism(SR) because it is concerned with dynamic interpretations of life with the purpose of changing the existing reality. In SR the individual is treated as a social unit. In addition social realism sees character as a product of social factors and environment as the integral element.

The Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach is used in this study because it changes the traditional research paradigm to transform the role of those participating in the research and make them active researchers and agents of change. It works with subordinate, marginalised and oppressed groups to change their circumstances within the society. Furthermore engaging in PAR using SR as a theoretical framework provides the language and opportunities to articulate the direction for ongoing research and establishing what possibilities are there present for solutions within the society.

This study further uses CDA because of its main objectives which are; to analyse discourse practices that reflect or construct social problems, to investigate how ideologies can become frozen in language and find ways to break the ice and to increase awareness of how to apply these objectives to specific cases of injustice, prejudice and misuse of power. Safety in schools is a societal problem, together the communities and stakeholders have to work together and communicate ways that can be used in addressing safety issues. The stakeholders are collaboratively working on the safety issues. CDA encourages the use of language and power that is acceptable to all involved even if they are in different levels in the community.

Investigation of teachers’ use of language during teaching of evolution in South African Life Sciences classrooms

Shungu Mupfawa

In South Africa there are eleven official languages and every citizen has a right to receive education in any of these languages. Nevertheless, the language of learning and teaching (LOLT) in most schools is either English or Afrikaans. Of the two languages English is more dominant because it is a global language and is preferred by parents. In a bid to embrace the call by UNSESCO (2007) which encourages science learning and teaching to be done in the mother tongue, South Africa implemented the teaching of science in indigenous languages in the lower grades in primary (1-3). Nonetheless, this endeavor has its merits and demerits. In South African schools most teachers and learners are English Second Language speakers. This study investigated the South African life sciences teachers’ use of science classroom language (technical and non-technical components) when teaching evolution to grade 12 learners in public schools. The primary objective of this study was to establish South Africa’s life sciences teachers’ awareness of the difficulty of the science classroom language towards suggesting strategies that they use to assist learners to better understand the science language. Three grade 12 life sciences teachers from two public schools in Johannesburg were observed and audio recorded three times while teaching evolution. A follow-up interview with each teacher was conducted to obtain clarity on language related issues that arose from the observations. As a result, the empirical data consisted of nine recorded lessons and accompanying field notes for each lesson as well as three recorded interviews. The interviews and the field notes were analysed using an interpretive approach whilst a strategy known as content analysis was used to analyse classroom observations so as to conclude on the teachers’ preferred approach to language use during teaching. From the findings, it can be suggested that South African life sciences teachers who participated in this study employed a variety of strategies to present technical terms to their learners but lacked explicit awareness of the difficulty of the science classroom language.

Shared school leadership and the promotion of teacher professional learning

Simangele Mkhwanazi

A shift towards shared leadership is largely visible in the South African education reform context. Shared school leadership alludes to the shared work and commitment that shape the direction of the school and its learning improvement agenda. This paper addresses the experiences of the school leaders (principal, deputy principal, HODs) in one high school of KwaZulu-Natal province and their shared efforts towards promoting teacher professional learning in their schools. It asserts that these school leaders contribute to this role in different ways that, however, complement each other. The paper forms one part of a three-year study that aims to explore the roles, behaviour and practices of school leaders  and how they influence teacher professional learning in their schools with a view to improving their knowledge and skills in ways that demonstrably enhance teacher professional knowledge and teaching practice. It involves a qualitative, multiple-case study of three schools in two school circuits with three principals, three deputy principals, six heads of departments (HODs) and twelve educators as participants. One-on-one semi-structured interviews, non-participant observations and document analysis are data collection tools that are used to conduct this study. The inductive approach is used to analyse the data for the study. Study findings indicate that school leaders promote teacher learning through direct and hands-on involvement with their teachers. However, this direct involvement seems to be mainly from the heads of departments while principals are indirectly involved by creating the opportunities for teacher learning to occur.

Panel discussions: 14:00 – 15:30

PANEL 4

Decolonising curriculum in formal education – what, why, how and for whom?

Chris Reddy, Lesley Le Grange, Petro Du Preez, Shan Simmonds
Respondent: Labby Ramnathan

Educational thought in formal education has been dominated by western ideas on education, teaching and learning at all levels in education systems in the world in the last two centuries. The rise of the university and the consequent development of formal programmes of learning saw the genesis of curriculum and the idea of learning programmes soon trickled down to other levels of education that developed such as schooling and vocational education. These ideas about education were soon exported from Western Europe to all corners of the globe by processes of colonisation, annexation and oppression.

This discipline / subject based model of education based on selected formal curriculum knowledge soon became the dominant discourse in education and this has seemingly endured the test of time. Subsequent developments and shifts which were largely variations on the original theme, were adopted and adapted almost universally. Globalisation, mass media and the internet further entrenched western ideas on education and curriculum in powerful ways in the late 20th and 21st centuries. Many refer to these processes as neo-colonialisation as the ideas largely filtered through the same conduits of the original colonisers. Most recently neo–liberal models of education management and organisation have become the global norm further entrenching the dominant model and suppressing local cultural traditions, knowledges and contextualised ideas about what knowledge is important to learn.

Fighting academic repression and “colonial” education is a cutting-edge investigation of the alarming state of education today. This seminar serves to challenge the global dominant discourses and forces that threaten liberatory critical approaches to education locally and globally. The clarion call for “decolonisation of the curriculum” is taken up and expressed as what is decolonisation, why the need to decolonise, how might we proceed in our endeavours and in whose interest are these processes pursued in curriculum. A series of papers will be presented which will be followed by comments from a discussant.

Decolonisation and currere

Lesley Le Grange (Stellenbosch University)

In this paper I shall argue that current school and university curriculum frameworks are based on a factory-model of curriculum, and that all iterations of this model are colonising. I then draw on insights from Fanon’s phenomenology and explore points of resonance that it has with Pinar’s notion of currrereCurrere is an autobiographical method developed to refocus curriculum on the significance of individual experience.  Thereafter, I critique Pinar’s notion of currere in view of a (re)turn to realisms such as speculative realism and matter-realism (new materialism).  I explore how we might (re)think the decolonisation of curriculum in (post)human times.

Decolonisation of the curriculum in Tanzania: possible insights for South Africa

Petro du Preez (North-West University)

This paper will present the historical background and development of the decolonisation of the curriculum discourse in Tanzania. The purpose of this exploration is to provide insights from the Tanzanian context that could inform South African discourses about decolonisation of the curriculum. I aspire to contribute to the clarion call for decolonisation of the curriculum in terms of what decolonisation might entail and how we might proceed in our future endeavours.

To succeed in partly addressing the above-mentioned call, I would introduce the Tanzanian philosophy of education for self-reliance. Although this philosophy has seemed to lose support as a result of political and economic changes since the mid-1980s, it provides valuable insights that could contribute to discourses about the decolonisation of curriculum. To understand this philosophy, it is important to explore the historical developments that have influenced curriculum conceptualisations in the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial eras, which perforce includes a critical discussion of the internal and external economic, political and social forces in each era.

The philosophy of education for self-reliance was introduced in the Arusha Declaration (1967). Its goal was to guide the planning and practice of education in the country from the bottom-up and to encourage schools to be self-sufficient. This philosophy was informed by the principle of ‘ujamaa’ and focused on the merger of theory and practice in the curriculum.

Decolonising the curriculum: students perceptions

Shan Simmonds (North West University)

What do BEdHons Curriculum Studies students perceive as the decolonisation of the curriculum and what do they see as their role therein? From a study conducted with students registered for BEdHons Curriculum Studies between 2015 to 2017 at the NWU, it became evident that this field is central to current debates on decolonising the curriculum. For the majority of the participants this involves thinking anew about the knowledge in the curriculum and its implementation. This was argued in terms of racial inclusivity and an undoing of the past to reimage a shared future. In terms of student involvement, all the students were against the # fallism movements that have been occupying the higher education landscape since 2015. Reasons for this point to the violent and political nature of the protests, resulting in vandalism, separation amongst students, academic disruption, and symbolic change (by removing statues and changing names).

The students advocate instead for academic debates, student forums and other spaces where they can stand together as students rather become more divided as a student body (as have been evident in the multiple # fallism movements that have resulted). Students are also of the opinion that individuals are quick to criticize the curriculum as being Western and colonalised without asking critical questions such as: who decides what should be included in the curriculum? This paper reflects on the insights provided by students and asks how their vision of a decolonised curriculum might be realised.

Decolonising curriculum, indigenous knowledge systems and professional teacher education: exploring opportunities

Chris Reddy (Stellenbosch University)

Globalisation has increased the infusion of mainly western knowledge systems into African developing countries and communities through formal education and commercial interests. A strong mono-cultural education discourse has become the hegemonic and dominant discourse leading to marginalization of local knowledges and ways of doing in many geopolitical locations which I presume includes Indigenous knowledge (IK).

Teacher education is an important cross cutting sector within which to initiate and sustain visionary strategies that would empower Africa’s future citizens with productive values and generative competencies linked to the contexts in which they live and will work. In this paper I discuss and develop and argument for the inclusion of IK into teacher education programmes that provide for cultural pluralism (Craft 1996) and the politics of equal dignity (Morrow 1996). This argument is extended to provide pre-cursers for teacher education programmes that might provide adequate preparation of preservice teachers for the challenge of teaching in a continually changing social, technological and economic climate.

PANEL 5

Overview of the PrimTED assessment workstream its goals and functioning

Anil Kanjee, Nicky Roberts

This submission will provide a broad overview of the PrimTED project, and how the assessment workstream contributes to the overall goals of this 4-year research project involving all 26 universities in South Africa. The focus of PrimTED is the improvement of the initial teacher education programmes designed to support the teaching of mathematics, language and literacy in the primary school.

The PrimTED assessment workstream has been established as a coordinating body to bring together the assessment efforts of various workstreams constituted under the broad PrimTED project. The workstreams include a focus on Mathematics (with Number & Algebra, Measurement and & geometry and Mathematical thinking workstreams), as well as a workstream on language & literacy, and work integrated learning.  This is all further supported by a Knowledge Management workstream.

The content workstreams are intended to design and share standards, materials, assessment tools and research relating to their focal areas. The assessments are therefore not intended for progression and certification purposes. Assessment for learning, and assessment tasks used for progression and certification purposes remain the responsibility of each HEI. It is expected that through the development of standards, and materials in the content-specific workstreams, as well as in WIL, that templates and exemplar assessment tasks will be made available to the PrimTED community.

The common written tests are not intended to be formally validated instruments, against the emerging teacher competence standards. Rather the common written tests are intended as ‘opt-in’ instruments, which HEIs may find useful for reflecting on their programme design. They are intended to stimulate collaboration and discussion on priorities for the focus on teaching reading and  writing (in English and in African languages) and doing mathematics.

All academics engaged in primary teacher education processes, and particularly those who are B.Ed programme coordinators, or course conveners for mathematics and language literacy, are invited to this session. There are opportunities to collaborate making use of common assessment tools, and/or to contribute assessment approaches and methods being adopted at local university level.

Venue1 BS

(SIG): TVET, HIGHER EDUCATION AND WORK – A ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION

‘Decolonised curricula’: Designing New Programmes for Educators in Post-School Contexts

Joy Papier, Kathija Yassim, Lucky Maluleke, Neville Rudman, Mary Madileng

This session takes the form of a ‘round table’ discussion that is intended to debate and discuss salient issues in post-schooling i.e. in TVET, Higher Education, Continuing Education, and Work contexts. In particular this session is focused on the question of what ‘decolonisation’ means in relation to developing curricula for new teacher training programmes for post-school educators. At present, university faculties of education are preparing for the roll out of new qualifications for TVET educators and in some instances, for Adult educators, in terms of national policy on professional qualifications for these sectors. How are education academics conceptualising these new programmes and what are the ‘big questions’ around which pedagogic content is being organised? What does the concept of ‘decolonisation’ mean for curricula in this instance and what are the debates and the rationales that inform the selection of content for new programmes?

3-4 short presentations will be made by faculty academics currently involved in the development of new post-school (TVET and ACET) teacher education programmes, specifically with regard to their conceptual underpinnings and the ‘big ideas’ that are informing their curriculum design. It is hoped that the presentations will lead to robust debate that take forward the conversation on decolonisation and its implications for curriculum development across contexts.

Venue 2 BS

Mapping the Status and Nature of History Education in South African Faculties of Education

Linda Chisholm: University of Johannesburg (Chair of Panel)
Michelle Friedman, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Queenta Anyele Sindoh: University of Johannesburg
Natasha Bambo, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

The #Rhodesmustfall and #Feesmustfall campaigns in higher education institutions in South Africa during 2015 and 2016 have brought into sharp focus questions about the decolonisation of the curriculum. In this debate, history plays an important role. This panel will seek to understand the status and nature of history of and in teacher education. Do what extent can the approaches adopted since democracy in 1994 be characterised as decolonised? Although teacher education has been desegregated, we don’t know exactly what has changed and how it has changed in the various education institutions. While there has been some research into the nature of the history curriculum and history education research in post-apartheid South Africa, there is a lacuna as far as the status and nature of what counts as history education in history teacher training is concerned.

In 1988 a PhD thesis by Peter Randall had shown that a traditional Eurocentric orthodoxy prevailed in all but three universities in the teaching of history of education and that the approach was modelled on orthodoxies developed in the USA and UK in the 1920s and 1930s. Both Kallaway (2012) and Cross et al (2008) decried the decline of a radical political economy of history in the immediate post-apartheid years and that Kallaway saw as a contemporary denial of history within education. According to this argument, neo-liberalism and the marketization of higher education since 1994 was responsible for this trend. Although Kallaway considers some of the research that has occurred since 1994 in history of education, neither he nor Cross et al look at what has emerged as history of and in education in teacher education curricula since the 2000s and whether indeed there have been continuities or discontinuities in this area with what Randall observed in 1988.

This panel will deepen this analysis to look at what is being taught in South African faculties of education in both history of education and history for education. Papers in the panel are based on a project based on analysis of interviews conducted across South Africa’s universities, as well as course outlines and assessments and textbooks and resources used. It will focus on two aspects of history teacher training: contextual dynamics impacting on the humanities, and specifically history of education, and the nature of the curriculum with respect to de-coloniality and historical thinking and the relation between these three dimensions. In history of education, the focus is on whether it is taught, where it is taught, what is taught by whom and how it is taught. History Methodology courses are examined to assess the nature of historical thinking and understanding taught to prospective history teachers. Understandings of the coloniality of knowledge production will be a key consideration. The work of Sebastian Conrad on Eurocentrism and Achille Mbembe on the coloniality of knowledge production processes will inform the nature of the analysis. Here the emphasis is on the conceptualisation of agency and the entanglement of knowledge production processes with colonialism. It will be necessary to work with a definition of colonialism that recognises continuities in power relations and representations between past and present, colonial and post-colonial periods. Within this approach, localisation of content is not adequate to signal de-colonialisation – what is also required is understanding of the relation between who writes and different interpretive approaches to the teaching of history of education.

Implications of higher education financing for history of education

Queenta Anyele Sindoh and Natasha Bambo, University of Johannesburg

This paper will consider the impact of contextual changes in the wider university and teacher education environment for on the one hand the status of history of education in Faculties of Education and on the other the impact on quality. Contextual changes will include the financing of higher education and specifically teacher education, and what this means, in conjunction with the low status of teacher education, for the quality of history of education. The quality will be assessed in terms of staffing and qualifications in this area. The link to and implications for decolonisation and Africanisation will be explored. The paper will use secondary sources to analyse the broader financing and policy issues and link this to the primary interview material gathered in the course of the project.

How Decolonised is History of Education in Faculties of Education?

Linda Chisholm, University of Johannesburg

This paper will examine what is taught from the perspective of interpretive traditions that have been established over time in South African history. It will do so through an analysis of the interviews conducted with lecturers in history of education as well as assessments, textbooks and resources. The paper will argue that while new textbooks produced since 2000 reproduce with minor modifications a Eurocentric orthodoxy focused on an unproblematized history of the evolution of public schooling, on the whole lecturers either do not use them or modify them and that African agency in education struggles is a strong theme. Whereas the textbooks largely use an older historiography, many lecturers draw on more recent historiographies. A problem across the board is the isolation however from the mainstream discipline and changes in it.

Historical Thinking in the Training of Teachers for History in South Africa

Michelle Friedman, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

This paper seeks to identify whether history educators in higher education institutions are still rooted in a tradition which is curriculum-bound, with little emphasis on historical thinking and understanding, or whether they have embraced historical thinking as a way of dealing with historical issues in the classroom. It aims to do so through a thorough examination of the assessment practices of history educators in South African universities. Current thinking and research on teaching and learning of history in the classroom has challenged the assumption that history teaching can be neatly divided into two separate parts: content and process. In contrast, historical thinking is a process which engages with the past as “an epistemological and cultural act that conveys deep and sometimes unintended messages about what it means to be historical in modern society”. By evaluating the assessment practices of history educators, it is possible to see how student history teachers are being developed and what approaches they will carry forward into the classroom. The paper will argue that while some progressive approaches are assessed in some of universities, there is little consistency throughout the higher education institutions in South Africa.

Presentations: 14:00 – 14:30

Finding resonances and re-encountering ourselves:  An arts-informed, participatory analysis of leading a transdisciplinary, multi-institutional professional learning community

Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Theresa Chisanga, Thenjiwe Meyiwa and Delysia Norelle Timm

This paper offers our discoveries as leaders of a transdisciplinary, multi-institutional South African professional learning community consisting of university educators engaged in postgraduate self-study research and their research supervisors. We begin with a discussion of significant features of our collective arts-informed self-study methodological approach. To follow, we retrace our research process through a) using collage and poetry as creative modes of participatory analysis with learning community participants, b) composing research poems to evoke and communicate our individual understandings of the participants’ analyses, and c) responding to an interpretive poem. The journey of this arts-informed, participatory analysis has been a methodological voyage; but, critically, it has also been an ethical inquiry that stems from and generates compassion for self and others. Through collective, arts-informed self-study, we have heard and seen the multiple perspectives of participants and expressed our own learning in dialogue with theirs, finding resonances and re-encountering ourselves. In our contemporary South African higher education context, the separation and suffering of the apartheid and colonial past weigh heavily. Indeed, in our contemporary global context, such damages and divides often seem to us to be proliferating rather than diminishing. In the face of what can seem to be dishearteningly insurmountable social and educational challenges, our involvement in collective creativity has allowed us to see and perform in imaginative and responsive ways that can transform our educational and research practice.

Unpreparedness of Some Universities to Respond and Adapt to the Outcomes Based Education in South Africa

Alice Mini, Patrick Bwowe, Khululwa Spelman

Higher education has throughout its history been confronted by challenges in the internal and external environment of its functioning. The fact that the university intake comes from the National Senior Certificate (NSC) background with its foundation of Outcomes Based Education (OBE) principles leaves the institutions no choice but to adapt. In the face of the above, the culture, policies and systems, curriculum design, resource capacity, strategies, and mind sets that prevail in these institutions pose a great deal of challenges. The nature of these challenges necessitates, to some extent a change in organisational character, strategies and attitudes in the higher education institutions. How these institutions respond and adapt to such changes is a fundamental question and point of departure in an attempt to articulate the trajectory along which changes in curriculum perspective are unfolding. This paper will attempt to explore the challenges and the level of preparedness of historically disadvantaged universities in dealing and adapting to the OBE standards. A mixed method approach, using a survey and semi structured interviews will be used to assess the perceptions of lecturers and administrative staff of the challenges they face with OBE. A stratified random sample of thirty respondents will be drawn from the lecturers and administrative staff to respond to the survey questionnaire. Five lecturers and five administrative staff will be purposely selected to participate in the interviews. Descriptive statistics will be used to analyse the survey data, while themes derived from the semi-structured interviews will be analysed to enrich the findings from the survey.

Leadership, grade 12 pass rate and the fallacy of quality education for all

Jan Heystek

It is difficult to understand in terms of social justice, equity and equal opportunity how most of the former only black schools are on equal terms with the more privileged schools. The no fee school policy sounds very positive as a political agenda to indicate that the government is providing education for all. The significant difference between the fees paid for a quintile one school namely R 1424 in comparison with fee paying schools where the school fees can be on average R9000 makes this quality education for all and mockery.

There are already indications of improvement in terms of matriculation pass rate many schools which performed previously very badly but the pass rate is a one-dimensional and skewed criteria to indicate that our education is in transformation towards quality education for all learners. The requirements for a passing grade 12 is to achieve 40% in three subjects, one of which is an official language at Home Language level, and 30% in three subjects which does not qualify as quality education.

A further analysis indicates that in 2016, 5 700 (Q1), 2 026 (Q2), 2 050 (Q3) and 119 (Q4) learners achieved a pass rate between 0 and 19%. 939 schools achieved a pass rate of lower than 40% while 811 schools in quintile one, two and three achieved a lower than 40% pass rate with only 16 schools in quintiles four and five (Department of basic education, national senior certificate examination report 2016). This is a possible indication that poverty and the socio economic context plays a significant role in the academic achievement of learners. This is also another indication that quality education for all learners is still a fallacy and political rhetoric.

Research conducted in three districts in the North West province at 16 schools and interviews with principals as well as focus groups with school management teams and teachers indicated that it is possible that leadership in schools can transform the quality of education. It is specifically principals who are able to transform underperforming schools towards improved academic performance. The participants initially define quality education as a well-rounded learner who can contribute to society at national and international level. Later it is clear that the pass rate becomes the most important and only criteria for quality education. This is a limited definition of quality education for all since it is just focused on the matriculation pass rate. These are small but important steps towards providing quality education for all.

Re-envisioning the teaching of First Additional Language

SA Ntsala

The paper focuses on the improvement of academic performance of classes using First Additional language. This scholarly piece is in response to the alarming literacy outcomes in the intermediate phase in some schools in South Africa. In this paper over crowdedness has been acknowledged as one of the plausible challenges. Furthermore, there seems to be indicators that attest that government seems to be behind in terms of building schools and employment of enough teachers. This paper aims at re-envisioning the teaching of First additional language, and how teachers could succeed with these in large classrooms. This paper will further bring together a re-envisioned framework that could be used as a reference by the FAL teachers who work in overcrowded classrooms. The methodological approach used is this study is qualitative in nature, thus data was collected and collated using interviews and observations. This scholarly piece will ultimate benefit teachers by providing the teachers with strategies that could be responsive to their context. The paper conclude by showing how this re-envisioned teaching will be less dependent on outside role players, but more towards their own context. How teachers will be able to take charge of their own situation.

Development of students’ academic literacies viewed through a political ethics of care lens

Arona Dison

This paper explores insights which the political ethics of care (Tronto 1993; 2013) offers to academic literacies development of students. Research on ethics of care has been conducted in contexts ranging from micro contexts to consideration of what constitutes a caring democracy (Tronto, 2013). However there has been no research on academic literacies development using an ethics of care lens. In this paper, data on academic literacy development within a health sciences faculty at a South African university is re-analysed through this lens. Curriculum and programme alignment, departmental relationships and culture and institutional approach to academic literacies development are considered in relation to the moral elements of care ethics. The research project from which the data is drawn, focused on student acquisition of dominant academic literacies, which can be seen as a “normative approach” to literacies development (Lillis and Scott 2007). In addition to analyzing normative practices of literacies development, this paper argues that care ethics and particularly the concepts of attentive listening and dialogue can contribute to a “transformative” approach to academic literacies. The potential contribution of these practices to decolonization of education needs to be explored further.

Negotiation of differences: a reflection on postgraduate supervision phenomena

Elizabeth Sipiwe Ndofirepi

Postgraduate education, as expressed in research, is a significant engine for development in many countries. To a larger extent, the way in which postgraduate students are supervised enable or constrain the acquisition of research skills necessary for their participation in national development endeavours. The challenges confronting current postgraduate supervision practices and processes prevalent in South African universities due to the diverse nature of the students accessing postgraduate studies, call for supervisors to be sensitive to students’ needs, taking cognizant of their shortcomings and background. Postgraduate supervisors are expected to assist students to embrace challenges in a quest to becoming researchers. This paper draws on one’s experiences as a postgraduate student and supervisor and the content for the NUFFIC course study material for postgraduate supervision. It is based on my reflections on and engagement with postgraduate supervision discourse in four key themes: power relations in supervision as viewed from the supervisor-student relationship, the supervisor in terms of scholarship, supervisory practices and supervision processes. The findings are in support of the argument that there is need for negotiation of differences (a space where the old and the new remix, in a way that results in filling in the gaps and bringing some equilibrium) in power relations, scholarship, supervisory processes and supervision practices. These themes pose as complex spaces in which the differences between the supervisor and the student might be negotiated in order to develop and maintain a healthy supervisor-supervisee relationship which benefits both parties. This paper further contends that there is more to postgraduate supervision than being a holder of a postgraduate qualification. Hence, learning to learn how to be a postgraduate supervisor is of critical importance. Change in the context of postgraduate studies in South African higher education necessitates transformation in the dynamics of supervision approaches and processes.

Presentations: 14:30 – 15:00

Dialogue as decolonising methodology in South African higher education

Dr Kehdinga George Fomunyam, Prof Sibusiso Moyo, Ms Vaneshree Govender

The “MustFall” movements intensified the call for decolonising higher education in South African and by so doing, brought to the lime light the short comings of the transformation agenda. Universities and higher education institutions are therefore called upon to decolonise beginning from the curriculum to institutional culture and architecture. However, there are conflicting voices on how the decolonisation movement should unfold, what should be decolonised and how it should be decolonised. These challenges have led to little or no steps being taken to enhance the decolonisation process. This paper attempts to address this challenge by provide a pathway for decolonising higher education. Designed as a qualitative case study, data was generated using debates and questionnaires. The data generated was coded and categorised into themes. The themes or the findings of the study revealed that since decolonisation is predominantly contextual, dialogue is key to decolonising. If dialogue is adopted as a decolonising methodology, the needs, necessities and foci of the higher education system would be addressed. Dialogue becomes key in understanding and deconstructing decolonisation at the contextual level as well as at the national level. The paper recommends that strategic multi-levelled dialogue is required for meaning making in the decolonisation process. It further recommends that decolonisation is contextual and requires contextual dialogue at institutional level to produce significant change.

Factors Contributing In Academic Performance Of Resident And Non-Resident Students At Walter Sisulu University

A Ketwa

BACKGROUND: The issue of accommodation has been found as a contributing factor towards academic performance of students. This research project focused on the association between academic performance of resident and non-resident students at Walter Sisulu University, Nelson Mandela Drive. Although many factors contributing to academic performance of students have been outlined and researched by other researchers, this study specifically focused on the challenges encountered by non-resident and resident students that in turn have an influence or impact on their passing rate or rather their academic performance.

AIM: The aim of the study was to compare the academic performance of resident and non-resident students and explore the impact of residence on academic performance.

METHODS: Quantitative research design was used and data was collected with the aid of self-constructed questionnaire. Data was then analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Science. A sample of 30 participants was chosen using purposive sampling.

RESULTS: The findings of the study indicated an association between academic performance of resident and non-resident students. However a significant number of students reported residing on-campus as exposing them more in educational facilities compared to students residing outside the campus. The study further revealed that even the type of a room that a student owns has an influence on their academic performance hence the majority of students residing on-campus obtained good academic records compared to those who are residing outside the campus.

Leading from the middle: Lived experiences of Deputy Principals in Secondary Schools across school quintiles

Sibonelo Blose, Inba Naicker

Deputy Principals (also known as deputy heads in some contexts) are the formally appointed school leaders serving directly below the school principal and above the departmental heads and teachers in the structural hierarchy of schools. Thus, these incumbents are termed middle leaders in this inquiry. This inquiry explores the lived experiences of Deputy Principals across each of the five school quintiles. The study is framed within the narrative inquiry methodology and views experience as a storied phenomenon. This paper draws from a PhD work-in-progress, which was conducted in five secondary schools in the Pinetown and ILembe Districts of KwaZulu-Natal. One Deputy Principal per school quintile was purposively selected to participate in the study. Field texts (data) were generated from participants and analysed at two levels, namely, narrative analysis and analysis of narratives. This paper will present the second level of analysis namely the analysis of narratives. The co-constructed narratives of the five participants were examined and the meanings and understandings informing their leadership practice were made visible. In this analysis in progress, the storied narratives reveal that personal and professional biographies are key drivers from which meanings and understandings are drawn to underpin leadership practice.

Adopting teachers’ perceptions of the integrated approach to language and literacy learning as an agent for constructive or transformative learning: key lessons from the integrated Luganda language classroom.

Henry Hollan Ssembatya

This paper examines the underlying assumption for adopting the integrated approach in a language classroom that effective literacy learning is grounded in experiential and constructive frameworks which integrate language knowledge and literacy practices, thereby affording learners an opportunity for acquiring meaningful and authentic communication practices. Traditional approaches (such as the psycholinguistic, the cognitive, the grammar-translation and the direct approaches) tend to focus on grammatical structures and isolated items of vocabulary (Mariann, 2008). Such approaches to language instruction which emphasize a linguistic system rather than a social practice where learners are not meaningfully engaged in active and interactive activities, retard communication and literacy practices development (Nortion, 2013). Similarly, the recent adoption and implementation of the integrated approach in a Luganda language classroom was a result of the failure of the traditional techniques of teaching indigenous languages in Ugandan schools to improve learners’ communicative levels, such as their syntactic and grammatical levels as, well as, their communicative competences. Despite studying Luganda language for 4 years (grade 8 – grade 11) through the traditional approaches, findings confirm that learners were unable to successfully develop their communicative competences, or to acquire the desirable language practices. It is through the adoption of the integrated approach that educators and policy makers developed an understanding that teachers must be able to draw on techniques most suited to the learning needs and abilities of the learners; which provided a platform for teachers to engage learners in active and interactive learning where language knowledge, multiple literacy practices and competences can holistically be enhanced in the classroom. Basing on empirical findings from the Luganda language classroom, this paper aims to examine teachers’, their perceptions knowledge of the integrated approach, and their engaging in social and meaningful classroom interactions as a basis of developing learners’ literacy practices.  Teachers’ perceptions are assumed to contribute to knowledge relating to the execution of the integrated approach and how learners’ literacy practices are enhanced.

Academic reading in Higher Education: A need for reading strategies at the University of Limpopo, South Africa

Tsebe Wilfred Molotja

The PhD that almost wasn’t: reflections on candidate and supervisor learning

Marion Joseph, Belinda Mendelowitz and Yvonne Reed

The title of one of the chapters in the first author’s doctoral thesis is ‘The PLC that wasn’t’.  In this paper, we narrate and reflect critically on the boulder-strewn road to PhD completion on which the candidate and supervisors were almost wrecked: the PhD almost wasn’t.  The literature on postgraduate research and its supervision is replete with journey metaphors and so we claim no originality for ours, but we do claim to have learned from our travels together. After analysing data from the research student’s journal, the supervisors’ notes, thesis drafts with supervisor comments, examiners’ reports and transcribed conversation in which the three authors reflect on the PhD journey, we make five claims that will be discussed in our paper. Firstly, the gap between what is required for successful completion of a master’s degree by course work and research report and the requirements of doctoral research and writing may, in reality, be a chasm. Marion will discuss this chasm from the research student’s perspective and both supervisors will explore the implications of her experiences and our own for building research capacity. Secondly, we agree with Kamler and Thomson (2013) that scholarly identity work is central to research writing and in addition argue that scholarly identity is also implicated in the supervision process. Thirdly, tensions between a student’s evolving professional and scholarly identities may be both productive and unproductive for the research project. Fourthly, co-supervision can be enabling for both the research student and the supervisors, particularly where supervisors’ disciplinary knowledges, research and supervision experiences differ in ways that can enrich and extend the research student’s work. Finally, we affirm what is already well-known, but which findings from this PhD illustrate powerfully: research ‘failures’ can be at least as important for the advancement of knowledge as ‘successes’.

Presentations: 15:00 – 15:30

‘You should wear to show what you are’: Same-sex sexuality student teachers troubling the heteronormative professional identity

Brown, A. & Diale, B.M

Although schools are meant to be places where fundamental human values are taught and embraced, challenges encountered by student teachers with same-sex sexualities are inherently connected to contextual experiences of rejection and of being ‘othered.’ These student teachers navigate the internalized homophobia, low self-esteem and anxiety of the teaching profession and begin to take on the role of the activist who ‘unsilences’ and ‘visibilises’ sexual diversity in normative school environments. However, there is scant research on how self-identified effeminate gay and ‘butch’ lesbian student teachers negotiate and navigate their identities in a heteronormative school environment during work integrated learning (WIL). This article seeks to narrow this gap by exploring the conflation between gender expressions and the assigned sex questioning the fitness of same-sex sexuality student teachers for the profession. A qualitative design, which comprised a focus group interview to elicit responses from 12 self-identified same-sex sexuality student teachers was utilised. Themes that emerged from the data analysis are: policed bodies and gender regulated professional teacher identities; self-regulation and performativity; and disrupting heteronormativity in the classroom. These themes are embedded within activity theory (AT). The results of this study show how the policing of dress code, mannerism and perceived sexual practice regulated and ‘genderised’ teacher professional identity in schools. This indicated that as part of diversity education urgency exists for teacher training programmes to incorporate knowledge on inclusive collegial atmospheres that are accommodative of same-sex sexualities. In so doing, they contribute to a more enabling practical experience as aspirant teacher.

Students’ prior knowledge as a constellation of meaning in flux

Lee Rusznyak

Working with students’ prior knowledge is generally understood as connecting new knowledge with what students already know. In this tradition, the Semantic Dimension of Maton’s (2014) Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) offers semantic waves as a useful conceptual tool for constructing pedagogical pathways that move between students’ contextual knowledge (with higher semantic gravity) and abstracted theoretical concepts (with higher semantic density). LCT also provides the conceptual tools to think about prior knowledge as pre-existing constellations of meaning constructed from a particular stance by students. The metaphor of a constellation compares connections that are perceived to exist between a cluster of ideas with the connections made between stars to form images. As formal learning proceeds, constellations may change shape, strength and structure as new ideas may be added to a constellation. Existing connections within the constellation may need to be weakened or even expunged (Maton, 2014).

I present an analysis of the expectations of a group of South African students about three courses in their curriculum (namely History, Sociology and Teaching). Whereas participants had formally studied History during their schooling, they had no previous formal study of other two subjects. Whereas participants easily recognise Sociology as an unfamiliar body of knowledge, Teaching appeared as highly familiar given their extended exposure to teachers and classroom spaces.

The paper shows how the constellations of meaning varied across subjects.  The discussions about the pedagogical implications of prior learning that have been fairly dormant since the 1990s should be re-invigorated with a focus on the differentiated ways on which lectures extend the semantic range of students’ constellations of meaning. This nuanced understanding of prior knowledge should enable more effective teaching, particularly during the crucial initial year of tertiary education.

The district officials’ leadership role in supporting teaching and learning in schools: A case study of two education district offices in Gauteng Province

Pinkie E. Mthembu

While South Africa has gone past 20 years after democracy there is still a huge gap on learner achievement between former model C schools and township and rural schools. This has put the government and education department under pressure to improve quality education by reducing these achievement gaps in order to address inequalities of the past. Policy initiatives have been developed, among others, National Development Plan 2030 and Action Plan, Towards Realisation of Schooling 2025. However these have not yielded positive outcomes. District level leadership has been recently recognized to be vital in system wide teaching and learning improvement. As a result, there has not been much research that has been done on education district leadership role on teaching and learning. This paper is based on my work in progress PHD case study findings that seek to explore from a constructivist perspective the understanding of district management as system level leaders on their role in supporting teaching and learning. Data was analysed inductively so as to contribute towards scholarship on the district managers’ conceptualisations of their roles in supporting teaching and learning.  This PHD study’s findings is that district office management, to some extent used different interventionary approached to supporting schools.  What came out strongly is the way the district management team used accountability sessions and data based support sessions informed by learner performance in all grades to support schools. While they believe that school leadership can successfully manage and lead teaching and learning, district management believe that this should be within boundaries set by the district to ensure large scale improvement. Findings from this study will advance understanding on hardly explored district managers’ leadership role in supporting teaching and learning.

Using formative feedback to scaffold low proficient ESL students improve their writing Skills

Mzamani Maluleke

Achieving proficiency in writing, especially in a second language is a developmental process which can be perfected over a long period and using different learning methods. Writing is regarded as the most laborious of the four skills as it requires the writer to assemble the ideas generated and then produce a coherent and linguistically accurate text. English second language (ESL) students enrolled at English medium universities experience numerous challenges in their attempt to adapt to the correct manner of writing essays for summative evaluation. This paper focuses on the effective use of formative feedback as a strategy to help level one students admitted as a South African university to cope with the rigours of writing academic acceptable papers. Qualitative method was used to collect data wherein students were given an essay to write and then graded using a rubric before providing formative feedback. They were then given an opportunity to rewrite the essay filtering information provided by the marker. The results confirmed that students improved their performance when writing the final text which was submitted for summative evaluation.

Transforming conditions for sustainable learning in a postgraduate supervision Environment

Molaodi Tshelane

This article reflects on the trajectories of doctorateness triggered by a conundrum endured by a cohort of twenty five PhD students and a team of fifteen supervisors over a period of five years. The aim is to report on the conditions conducive for successful deployment of a deliberate intervention approach applied by the supervisory team and student colleagues in pursuing a social justice agenda. An Africana Critical theory of Du Bois was employed in framing the entire study. A participatory action learning and action research (PALAR) design was employed to generate data through peer discussions, transactional walk, spider-web and learning management system used by the coordinating team. A critical discourse analysis (CDA) advocated by Teun Van Dijk was used to derive the following major findings: (i) Recognition of the capital wealth in PhD students is a necessary condition in doctorateness. (ii) Criticality reflection on multiple voices critique is a pivotal condition in shape the product in doctorateness. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations around the importance of doctorateness and deliberate supportive initiatives as an alternative process for fast-tracking the ambitious targets of the national development programme in the South Africa. The initiatives of creating encouraging conditions and endurance in decolonizing doctoral supervision spaces and practices has greater potential in creating and  building doctoral community of stakeholders who coalesce around the vision of recognition, relation building and continual refection to inspire hope. The findings have implications for education policy implementation and decolonization of curriculum in higher learning institutions.

Presentations: 15:30 – 16:00

School Change is E.P.I.C.: How Empowering the Practice of Internal Coaching (E.P.I.C.) Shifts School Culture

Marcelle Mentor, Denise Daniels

What does it mean to coach internally? Who has the ability to coach at your school? How do we build a common language for our Professional Learning Community (PLC) within our schools.

For the past three years, through experiential learning in the EPIC workshop series, we have created spaces for teacher leaders to explore Adult Learning Theory concepts to recognize and develop coaching entry points for the adult learners in their school communities. Exploring concepts like systems thinking help to build contextual awareness of key systems and internal/external benchmarks that need to be navigated when creating sustainable change. We explored the impact of leveraging benchmarking processes for short-term inquiry projects that sparked incremental change cycles that ultimately changed teacher practice and eventually school culture.

Our main research question is how do we build the capacity to engage adult learners in a process of inquiry and reflexive examination of teacher practice to move their individual practice forward? Our aim is to examine what looking at the process of training educators to see the intricate interplay between the principles of adult learning and what this teaches us about in house coaching and coaching coaches. We also seek to discover what impact Growth Mindset theory and building capacity in the educational coaching competencies has on the process to change the direction of coaching relationships, adult learning and school change in complicated school and educational spaces. What lessons can we take from here to move the conversation forward around who can influence and then empower the educators in our educational spaces.

The movement of thought: Mapping knowledge-growing

Frans Kruger

In seeking to contribute toward the dialogue on decoloniality, I explore ways in which pedagogical approaches could contribute towards socially-just education landscapes. I offer a cartography of a pedagogical experiment involving 4th year Bachelors of Education students who explored the Bloemfontein campus of the University of the Free State during one of their final year education modules. During this exploration the students engaged with the entanglement of higher education spaces with practices of coloniality (Quijano 2007; Mignolo 2011). The pedagogical experiment consisted of two activities. Firstly, the students were asked to identify, as they walked, a specific place/site on the campus and to discuss how they understand this place/site to be entangled with practices of coloniality or decoloniality. After their campus exploration, the students shared their experiences through producing an education community map (see Bozalek 2011). These maps are conceptualized as constituting both commentary and political performance (Crampton 2009). In reflecting on both my own experiences of this pedagogical experiment and those of the students, I draw on Ingold (2010, 2011) and Goldrich and Bombardella (2016) to explore the link between pedagogy, walking, place and knowledge-creation to argue for the potential of group walking pedagogy as decolonial practice. Decolonial pedagogy is furthermore conceptualized as a relational praxis of knowledge-growing that creates opportunities for the emergence of new group subjectivities that do not subscribe to the logic of coloniality.

Contestations and contradictions on the learners’ constitutional rights to basic education: A South African perspective

Raj Mestry ; Pierre du Plessis

Education is a basic human right that is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. It stipulates that everyone has the right to a basic education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must progressively make available and
accessible. The South African Schools Act makes it compulsory for all children to attend school from the age of seven until they reach the age of 15 or the end of Grade 9, whichever comes first. The school governing bodies (SGBs) are given the power to
determine and enforce school policies including admission, language and finance policies.

Since 1994 many South African children have gained physical access to public schools. Very few children fail to enrol in a school, their daily attendance is relatively high, repetition rates are relatively low and dropout is rare, at least during primary school. However, it is disturbing that at least 2% of all learners never enter a public school, and these learners are the most marginalized of all, often schools barring them access, or suffering from disabilities, deep poverty and/or lack of access to social grants. Furthermore, the high rates of grade progression, despite generally low quality of schooling in the primary and early secondary phases, leads to substantial drop-out prior to the standardised matric examination.

Using legislation and secondary datasets, this paper explores the learners’ constitutional rights to access to education. Contrary to legislation, the socioeconomic status of parents, racial and religious discrimination, and the language policy are some
reasons preventing poor learners from accessing public schools, especially in affluent areas. It is recommended that the Department of Education provide relevant roleplayers in school education the necessary training to correctly interpret and implement legislation and policies related to learner access to education.

Ubuntu, Democratic Education Leadership and Management in South African Public Schools. A critical discussion

Thinavhudzulo Norman Mafumo

The paper provides a theoretical discussion of the claim that the indigenous Southern African philosophy / world view of Ubuntu can constitute the foundation of democratic leadership and management in South African public schools. The discussion unfolds through a rigorous critique of the relevant literature in the field of school leadership management in   South Africa. The paper specifically contends that Ubuntu, mostly neglected in dominant literature on education, provides African – centred perspective on the principles of deliberation, equality, inclusion, compassion, hospitality, and belligerence which, in the view of some critical Theorists, are central in the delivery of democratic education.

 theoretical approach to teaching academic literacy through use of genres in isiXhosa printed media and history texts: A genre-base theoretical framework for educators

Simthembile Xeketwana and Sibongile Xamlashe 

This paper explores the properties of genre-based pedagogy regarding its application in the South African schools, intermediate, senior and FET phases.  The paper aims at contributing to the improvement of language and literacy in reading and writing, by empowering educators with a theoretical approach to the knowledge about language. The genre-based pedagogy and systemic functional linguistics is employed to examine the media and history texts, which can be of value in teaching isiXhosa Home Language.  The paper will further demonstrate the use of lexical items, ideational metafunctions which is sentence-level grammar and discourse-level grammatical properties, in evaluative language use as underpinned by genre-based pedagogy and systemic functional linguistics. This paper seeks to contribute to the use media and history text as a resource for language development in South African schools, as per the specifications of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).  In conclusion, the paper argues that the analysis of isiXhosa media and history texts, could benefit educators’ knowledge about language, which is needed to enhance literacy in the South African schools.

Enhancing learners’ reading habits through reading bags at Secondary schools

Molotja T.W and Themane M

The importance of getting children off to a good start in reading cannot be overstated. Success in the primary and secondary schools in academic achievement is partly dependant on the ability to read. It is believed that good learners at schools are those who are proficient in reading. It is, however, contrary to the above, not the case. Many learners are struggling to read and therefore struggle to academically succeed in other subjects. The problem of not being able to read has tremendous negative effects on learners’ achievements. This study proposes a strategy towards motivating learners in developing better reading habits through the distribution of reading bags. The qualitative approach was adopted in conducting this study. Learners’ reading strategies were first identified by administering a survey on reading strategies. About 14 student educators volunteered in distributing the questionnaire at schools their respective schools during their teaching practice sessions. The questionnaires were manually analysed. The results indicated that most of the learners use the Global Reading Strategies with the least utilising the Problem Solving Strategies and the Support reading Strategies. The researcher recommend the usage of reading bags as a strategy to motivate learners to develop good reading habits, which will then lead to the usage of the Problem Reading Strategies.

What contributions can/could/would my research make towards/thinking about decolonizing/transforming education?

Rod Waddington

Doing action research in your own organisation is a daunting task for novice researches. When the organisation is toxic due to destructive leaders, susceptible followers and a conducive environment it is even more difficult to navigate through the research processes. As an HRD Manager in a TVET college I have personally experience and witnessed the negative effect of toxicity on employees’ wellness. Due to the emotional abuse of employees special care has to be taken not to further traumatise participants in the research project. I undertook a self-study, action research enquiry in order to generate a living theory of organisational development. The aim of the research was to contribute to organisation development, to improve my own health and to influence a cohort of managers to improve their health through nurturing life enhancing values. Using a participative, collaborative and caring approach we worked within the framework of dialogic organisation development drawing on chaos and complexity theory.  In this presentation I focus on how we were able to work together as members of the action learning set to cogenerate data for analysis using creative and innovative methods that accommodated colleagues who had faced trauma in the workplace. Our findings indicate that through the use of visual methodologies, openspace technology and equine grooming, action set members were able to narrate their stories, find their voice, start to experience healing from their emotional trauma and develop new coping methods to deal with the toxicity in the workplace. The significance of this research is that our experience of working with emotional content using innovative and creative methods may be of interest to others who wish to work ethically with participants in their own organisation.

Reflections Of A Fallist On Fallism: a paradigm shift on contemporary politics and education system in South Afrika

Mokgweetsi Keikabile

The Fallist movement challenges a paradigm shift of the modern-day education system in South Afrika.  We are in an epoch of unpacking whether transformation is a failed project constructively and epistemologically, and whether decolonization seeks to address its pitfall and limitations. South Afrika is haunted by a systemically divided racial historical past. The education curriculum is not an exception.  I shall refer to ‘Afrika’ instead of ‘Africa’ deliberately. For this ‘k’ represents decolonial connotations of the latter word.

In a pre-Fallist era it was not always fashionable for one to openly and critically criticize the holy-than-thou messiah, Nelson Mandela in South Afrika – since victors of history always write history from their perspective. Has a heathen ever gone to church to problematize and critique Jesus?  It may be argued that there is but a possible conclusion: the church congregation might be hostile or may decide to attack such an evil satanic person. That is exactly how government responded to those who dare thought they were sensational, or revolutionary by challenging the ‘father of South Africa’. The punishment was extreme and could create catastrophic obstacles for those movements or individuals who dare stood up to speak the unspeakable language.

It is the primary purpose of this paper to argue robustly that 1994 has not changed anything fundamentally in academia and lecture halls for marginalized students. This will be done my reflecting on the writers lived experience and encounters as an activist of Fees Must Fall, where communication drastically broke down between government and students. The latter has led to many devastating scars: suspensions, expulsions, arrests, and police brutality to defenceless students. Since our actions were inspired by Martinique philosopher, thinker and writer Frantz Fanon’s critique of a post-colonial society. It will further be essentially emphasized that the call for demanding Free Decolonized Education is fair, justifiable and just.

Panel discussions: 16:15 – 17:45

Research Capacity Workshop

De-mystifying the publishing process (or just How to get an article published)

Ursula Hoadley, Carol Bertram

The first part of this workshop will deal with decisions around publishing: when to publish, why publish, how to choose a
journal and briefly, the process of writing (and rewriting and rewriting) a journal article.

Research Capacity Development Workshop

Discourse analysis

Chris Dali

Presentations: 16:15 – 16:45

Teachers’ Experience In Supporting Learners With Impairments In Full-Service Schools

JM Mamabolo and LP Sako

The study investigated the implementation of inclusive education in three primary schools categorised as full-service schools. The study adopted qualitative methodology for investigation. Twenty four participants took part in the study and were selected through purposive sampling procedure. The social constructionist theory was employed to understand the views of participants and how they handle complex manifestations of challenges confronting inclusive educations classrooms. Three techniques for data collection were used, namely, interviews, observations and text analysis. The findings of the study suggest that; a) teachers need training for appropriate implementation of inclusive education (IE); b) all participants in the study comprehend IE differently and are not sure of their specific responsibilities; c) all participants needed sufficient foregrounding in IE; and d) resources need to be improved urgently and classroom structures modified for propitious implementation of the (IE) programme. These findings highlight significant inferences, for example: first, that significant foregrounding of all participants in IE should be considered as priority number one by the Department of Basic Education (DBE); second, that resources have to be mobilised for schools to enable effective implementation of the programme; and third, that it is encouraging that all players recognise and accept that it imperative for schools to practice IE and embraced it.

Enhancing the role of female principals as curriculum managers

Nompumelelo Mthethwa

The aim of this study was to formulate a strategy to enhance the role of female principals as curriculum managers in eight different schools in the Amajuba District. In order to achieve this, specific objectives were devised to guide the study as follows:

  • To understand the need for designing a strategy to enhance the role of female principals as curriculum managers;
  • To explore strategies to support female principals in curriculum management;
  • To investigate existing strategies to enhance the role of female principals as curriculum managers and the conditions that enable these strategies to work;
  • To anticipate the threats to emerging strategies aimed at enhancing the role of female principals, and to formulate risk management systems; and
  • To formulate the indicators of success (or lack thereof) in enhancing the role of female principals as curriculum managers.

The Critical Feminism Standpoint Theory (CFST), with its agenda of equity and social justice, was selected as a theoretical framework in which to couch the study and realise the above objectives. To formulate a strategy to enhance the role of female principals as curriculum managers, participatory action research (PAR) was used as it addresses power sharing, emancipatory and working with real challenges to bring about change in the community, the researcher working with the co-researchers collaboratively in order to find solutions to the challenges the female principals encounter as curriculum managers. Data were generated through the use of PAR and analysed using Critical Discourse analysis (CDA). The empirical analysis, interpretation of data and discussion, the findings resulting from interventions were done with CDA. The first part of the study reflections were made through the use of PAR looking at the challenges faced by female principals are the results caused by the absence of a dedicated team with a common vision. The challenges faced by female principal the reality and the experiences of the female principals that hinder the effective implementation of the curriculum management in schools. The second part of the study identifies the components of the solutions as strategies to be used to curb challenges under the supervision of a dedicated team with a vision to enhance the role of female principals as curriculum managers. The solutions predicted by the co-researchers to curtail the challenges were discussed. Numerous findings with regard to challenges consistent with results of the research studies reported in the literature review. This research project is distinctive as it involves female principals, management qualities and curriculum studies, in understanding the strategy to be implemented successfully by a dedicated team to create a conducive teaching and learning environment. This study advocates the consideration of females principals having a voice in managing the curriculum and curriculum design. In conclusion the dissertation argues that curriculum management can never be done by an individual but by working as a team having collaborative relationship, where all stakeholders are engaged and able to partake in decision and being involved collectively. The dissertation offers a strategy that can respond to challenges faced by female principals as curriculum managers using collective, cooperation, solidarity, sisterhood and oneness.

Unprepared Inclusive Educational schooling system in South Africa: myth or reality?

Sanet Deysel

The worldwide call to ensure access to quality education and counter the exclusion of learners led to the declaration of the Salamanca Statement (UNESCO, 1994). The Salamanca Statement underpinned the philosophy of Education for All (UNESCO, 1994) and encouraged all educational systems worldwide to address diversity and build inclusive educational systems. In order to remove all barriers of discrimination within the South African educational system, the South African department of Education adopted the Education White Paper 6: Special Needs Education: Building an Inclusive Education and Training system in July 2001.

This paper explores the research question: Is it a myth or reality that the South African educational system is (still) unprepared for Inclusive Education? Five teachers teaching in mainstream schools were purposefully selected. A qualitative research approach with phenomenology as chosen research design was used. The methods of data production were focus group interviews, memory work, and drawings. The teachers were in agreement about the reality of the unprepared schooling system regarding Inclusive Education in South Africa.

The findings indicate that teachers view the concept Inclusive Education as the accommodation of learners with mainly physical disabilities and “problem” children in their classrooms. Although the teachers indicated that they have a good understanding of the practice of inclusive education, not one of them referred to the principles of UDL (Universal Design for Learning). They, therefore, do not view inclusive education as “teaching to be of an inclusive nature”, but see inclusion through a deficit lens.

 

 

Conceptualising “wellbeing” as a goal of education in Zimbabwe

Claudia Koehler

Reading as learning in the primary school

Elizabeth Henning, Lara Ragpot

There is a growing concern about the reading competence of primary school children. Intervention programmes may abound, but the evidence of marked improvement is not yet forthcoming.  In this paper we propose a view of reading not only as decoding and comprehending text, but as learning itself as human activity. This means that even in the early stages of learning to read, when children begin to recognise written symbols aligning with their sound counterparts, they are learning to 1) manage the phonological loop and the visual sketch pad of the working memory and while also 2) strengthening  their executive functions by shifting focus, inhibiting response and adapting their cognitive behaviour to the immediate task at hand. These are important cognitive skills, accompanying reading from the outset.

Language and social justice: Praxis for PGCE students to demystify decolonization

M. Dali and K. Rasana

The changing demands and responsibilities placed on teachers in South African government schools after 1994 and the #FeesMustFall students’ movement required them to be critical of how language and social justice are pivotal in the current agenda for the decolonization of education. The current discourse on the decolonization of education necessitates student teachers to reflect on the language clichés that they have learned in their university years and teaching practice on social justice competencies necessary in the decolonization of education. This qualitative article sought to explore how the perceptions and experiences of Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students on language and social justice could be utilized in demystifying decolonization of education. Content data analysis of 8 focus group interviews and 10 in-depth interviews with purposefully selected PGCE students at the Nelson Mandela University, revealed that the interconnectedness between language and social justice competencies of student teachers is pivotal in demystifying decolonization of education. This paper is a contribution on the praxis of decolonizing education in South Africa.

 

Presentations: 16:45 – 17:15

New Ways Of Teachers’ Engaging Hearing Impaired Students In Literacy Acquisition For Sustainable Development?

Rahila Milaham

Hearing impaired students face a crisis with Literacy development, this is because the students continue to demonstrate difficulty in reading and writing. This has been a challenge to teachers of the hearing impaired on how to handle them in class. Research has shown that most of hearing impaired students attend a public school and enroll in a classroom with their hearing peers or in a self-contained classroom with other hearing impaired students. Therefore, for teachers to successfully develop literacy in these students, they must first understand how these students learn to read and the challenges they may encounter with the process of reading and writing. Since teaching, hearing impaired students through sign language increases the rate of social interaction between the teacher and the students, it is believed that it gives room for more understanding. When teachers plan their lesson to suit the sociocultural settings of the students, it improves the quality of instruction. This paper aims to discuss some challenges that the hearing impaired face with reading and writing. It also offers some suggestions on how teachers can develop literacy skills for the hearing impaired students.

Strategies To Assist Foundation Phase Teachers’ With Implementation Of Inclusive Education: A Case Of Selected Johannesburg West Schools

Ambeck CelyneTebid, Sakge Harry Rampa, Mumthaz Banoobhai

The South African Education system recognises the need for all learners including those experiencing learning difficulties, to have access to a single unified system of education. For teachers to be pedagogically responsive to an increasingly diverse learner population without appropriate support has been proven to be unrealistic. As such, this has considerably hampered interest amongst teachers, especially those at the foundation phase to work within an Inclusive Education (IE) and training system. SBSTs were created at school levels to fill this gap thereby, supporting teaching and learning by identifying and addressing learners’, teachers’ and schools’ needs. With the belief that IE may be failing because of systemic reasons, this study uses Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecosystemic as well as Piaget’s (1980) maturational theory to examine the nature of support and experiences amongst teachers taking individual and systemic factors into consideration. This qualitative study, aimed at investigating foundation phase teachers’ experiences of school-based support teams (SBSTs) in two Full-Service (inclusive schools) and one Mainstream public primary school in the Gauteng province of South Africa reports on the findings relating to the strategies that could be used to assist teachers to implement inclusive education in the foundation phase; with particular emphasis on finding ways to supporting them.  Data was collected using in-depth, face-to-face interviews, document analysis and observation with 6 foundation phase teachers drawn from 3 different schools, 3 SBST coordinators, and 3 school principals. Data was analyzed using the phenomenological data analysis method. Amongst the findings of the study is that, South African full- service and mainstream schools have functional SBSTs which render formal and informal support to the teachers; this support vary in quality depending on the socio-economic status of the relevant community where the schools are situated. The study revealed however that the core of the problem lie in the way support is channeled to teachers, which currently, lack practical experiences on how to deal with real classroom. This paper aims to unpack strategies that would assist teachers to implement inclusive education in the foundation phase.

Becoming decolonised through Islamic education

Abdullah Bayat, Yusuf Arieff

In this paper we argue that the study of Islam and its various sciences provides students with a potential decolonized epistemic. The colonial epistemic has detached knowledge from God providing a secular this-worldly framework. This secular knowledge framework has allowed capitalism, racism, individualism, and materialism to flourish with devastating consequences for the environment and for the impoverished. One of the colonial epistemic most devastating effects has been to render the colonial subject as inferior, deplorable and wretched.  This stands in stark contrast to the theo-centric values that Islam (and other theistic faiths) espouses to its adherents that aims to render its subjects as blessed, worthy and honourable.

Aiming to explore the influence that intensively studying Islam on students raised in a post-apartheid context, we chose a qualitative approach where we employed a case study research design. We explored, through interviewing several senior students at a Darul ulum (an Islamic higher education institute) how their study of Islam calibrated their subjectivities (sense of self) and their world views.

All of the interviewees were raised in the post-apartheid era, yet they were still affected by the effects of apartheid. All were from previously disadvantaged communities and had attended school in these areas. Some were raised in homes with both biological parents and others were from single parent homes. Most interviewees were born into Muslim families with some having embraced Islam at some point in their lives.

A key research finding showed that that lecturers at the institute inspired students to engage in an ethics of bettering the self (be it in knowledge or character development). Students indicated that there was a clear change of focus from personal material acquisition to knowledge acquisition in order to benefit themselves and humanity at large. It was clear from this study that having a theo-centric epistemic moved the students from a self-serving primarily material acquisition oriented subjectivity to an altruistic-centred subjectivity. It shifted them toward a sense of self where they honoured and loved themselves irrespective of their race or class (as examples) thus mitigating the effects of colonial categories of race and class. Studying Islam had a decolonization effect on these students.

Validating PIRLS: Examining translations and textual features of PIRLS Instruments

Karen Roux

This paper reports on the conceptualisation of a study to establish the validity of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) assessment instruments in the South African context. South Africa is in a reading literacy crisis due to the disparity between South African learner performance against international benchmarks such as PIRLS. PIRLS is a cross-national study that assesses Grade 4 learners’ reading literacy skills. PIRLS assesses learners in the Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT) of the school. In South Africa, Afrikaans, English and isiZulu Grade 5 learners participated in the PIRLS 2016 assessment. Even though rigorous translation procedures are in place, their might not be equivalence across the languages. Findings from the current study could inform the Language in Education Policy (LiEP), a policy that promotes all 11 official languages in Foundation Phase, but that is faced with a number of logistical challenges, one of which may well be the disparity between languages for purposes of testing.

This study intends to use secondary analysis of the PIRLS 2016 released booklets and data to determine means and percentages along with Rasch analysis, specifically Differential Item Functioning (DIF), to help identifying problematic items to be examined. Thereafter, the study will utilise text linguistic analysis in terms of cohesion, coherence and informativity as well as content analysis to determine whether PIRLS is still a valid assessment in South Africa. As this is a work in progress, this paper will focus on the conceptual and preparatory stages of the study.

Providing student language support intervention as a strategy towards the decolonisation of Higher Education in South Africa

Karen Dos Reis and Venicia McGhie

South Africa has eleven national languages. However, the languages of instruction at schools and universities are exclusively Afrikaans and English (Joubert, 2010:39). The language Policy and Plan for South Africa strongly advocates for learners to learn in their mother tongue. Despite the aforementioned policy the Education Department in South Africa encourages teaching in English, a language that is often not the home language of most learners (Adams and Sewry, 2010:1). Recent research conducted suggest that learners learn best through their mother tongue (Landsberg et al., 2011:168; Maake, 2014).

According to O’Connor and Geiger (2009:259) second language English learners experience academic challenges, for example having to repeat a grade or proceeding to the next grade without the required knowledge of the previous grade’s work. Furthermore teachers are expected to provide additional time to learners who are unable to keep up with the syllabus due to their language barrier.

The challenges second language English speaking students faced at school level, unfortunately continues when they enter universities. Currently, the throughput rate  at a university located in the Western Cape, is below the national benchmark mark which is 29% (DHET, 2014). The low throughput rate at could be attributed to the fact that most students who enter the university are second language English speakers. It is therefore against this backdrop that an intervention program was developed and implemented to address the language barrier students experienced at school level.

The objective of this program is twofold, firstly, to provide language support as a strategy towards the decolonisation of higher education in South Africa and secondly,  to increase the throughput rate. Several evaluation tools were used to monitor the program. These tools assisted the researchers to reflect on practices with the vision to improve this program.  While findings suggest that students need language support, the program revealed several systemic challenges.

Presentations: 17:15 – 17:45

Finding a voice:  The challenges of assessing  South African Sign Language as Home language

Stephan Paraffin Mchunu

South African Sign Language (SASL) is one of the visual-spatial native languages used by the Deaf community in South Africa to learn and communicate, express thoughts, feelings and abstract ideas.  This language uses special features for communication different from all other languages spoken in South Africa.  The Constitutional Review Committee in Parliament has recommended that South African Sign Language be declared the 12th official language.  The Department of Basic Education (DBE) introduced the South African Sign Language Home Language Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement for the Deaf for Grade 10 in 2016, which means that the first   Grade 12 group will write the final exit examination in SASL as Home Language in 2018.  A visual gestural nature of the South African Sign Language has huge implications for assessment.   Research was conducted to gain insight in the assessment and quality assurance processes of SASL as Home Language at school, provincial and national levels.  The findings from the study provided guidance to Umalusi as Quality Council about its role in the quality assurance of SASL School-Based Assessments and examinations.  The study was largely based on the analysis of case studies and therefore located within the qualitative research paradigm.  The case studies involved the Department of Basic Education, seven SASL schools selected from Gauteng Province and the University of the Witwatersrand.  Non-probability sampling specifically known as convenience sampling was used to select the schools.  Data were collected through interviews, questionnaires, documentation and observation.  The study revealed that there are very few qualified SASL teachers in the country, a team teaching model is used during teaching and learning and field–specific assessment practices are in place. . It became clear from the study that expertise in SASL is required for the assessment, moderation of question papers, invigilation and marking.  Recommendations from the study include the necessity of schools to have technologically flawless SASL laboratories with private spaces for each candidate during the examination.  This paper argues that both the Department of Basic Education and Umalusi need to attend to field-specific adaptations of exam paper setting, marking and quality assurance processes to ensure that effective and constructive assessment practices are established.

Music integrated classroom-teaching – visions for a sound education

Markus Cslovjecsek

Classroom teaching is very complex and contains a multitude of personal experiences, dreams and hopes. On the other hand every musical activity is a multidimensional display of fireworks – be it listening, keeping a rhythm, singing a melody, composing, playing an instrument, dancing or speaking. People respond differently to these activities in the dimensions that resonate for them as individuals or as a group. The art of education consists in relating the world and the people involved. Music hereby is a most wonderful catalyst; it is crucial to make the most of the full potential of music from the very beginning of schooling and for that as well in the professional development of educators.

In this talk I’ll try to give insights in the functioning of sound as a not yet deeply understood means of learning, without forgetting the beautifulness of art. Based on theories of interdisciplinary teaching and learning (Cslovjecsek M./Zulauf M. Integrated Music Education – Challenges of Teaching and Teacher Education; 2018) and Devey’s proposal (Democracy and Education; 1916) to differentiate between primary and secondary experience and combining doing and thinking, we will practice specific mutual educational activities to produce common ground for discussion. Participants are decide if they will be involved as practitioners or as observers or both at once. Their backgrounds and insights will be highly valued and are from major interest for the discussion.

With the participants of the conference I would like to discuss, their experience in integrated and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. Furthermore we will how to overcome the dichotomy between theory and practice and how to include acting and thinking and the collaboration between disciplines and cultures for a further development of the art of teaching.

The Changing Attitude Of Learners Towards Discipline In Primary Schools In Ngaka Modiri Molema District

Joyce Phikisile Dhlamini, Moitoi Dorothy Mmolaeng

The issue with learner discipline has become a worldwide epidemic problem. The lack of learner discipline in schools can interfere with teaching and learning and if this misconduct is not handled properly, education may not be successful. The aim of this research was to determine attitudes and reactions of learners towards discipline in primary schools. This study followed a qualitative research design and interview process was applied in order to achieve the research aim. Empirical research was conducted by means of focus groups with teachers, learners and 2 individual interviews with the principals. The target sample comprised of 6 teachers, 40 learners and 2 principals in the primary schools in Ngaka-Modiri Molema. Social learning theory underpinned this study. It emerged from this study that some teachers are frustrated about learner misconduct and end up using corporal punishment. On the other hand learners feel like nothing can be done to stop this dilemma of misbehaviour as they regard it is a natural cause and also over emphasise their rights without shouldering responsibilities for their action. The study concluded on the need for a positive collaborative leadership of the parents, principals and the teachers and that more focus should be on the changing needs of disciplinary methods in schools.

Negotiations on Religion: Young peoples’ articulations on religion in a diverse society

Kerstin von Brömssen, University West, Sweden

As flows of people are more common than ever in our times, challenges are put on individuals to put up with a complexity of ideas, values and lifestyles (Castells, 1997).  This also means that identities are challenged and has to be negotiated, for many in new surroundings with new traditions, cultures, religions and languages.  The concept of negotiation can be used to underline the dynamic processes in constructing linkages between traditions and individuality (cf Østberg, 2003; von Brömssen, 2003). In this paper I will focus discursive constructions and negotiations on ‘religion’ articulated by three young people age 14 and 15 in Sweden; two boys who position themselves as Muslims and one girl from the Buddhist tradition.  The data has been constructed in individual interviews and analyzed from a discourse theoretical approach (Wetherell, Taylor & Yates, 2001). The research suggests that young people do intensive “identity work” (cf Ziehe, 1993) and articulate reflexive knowledge about cultural and religious pluralism, but also that this requires an advanced translational capacity. It also shows, albeit with some variations, that religion as a source of identity is apparent for many young people. This work links to a research proposal on work in a South-North perspective on issues on young people, religion, teaching and education as well as the conference theme “Education in an era of decolonization and transformation”.

Conceptualising and enacting the critical imagination through an embodied critical writing pedagogy

Belinda Mendelowitz

Imagination in critical literacy research is usually referred to as a taken for granted concept that is seldom theorised or unpacked, leaving the assumption unchecked that everyone has a shared understanding of imagination. This paper challenges critical literacy researchers to rethink the relationship between criticality and imagination and its implication for a critical writing pedagogy.

A theoretical framework is outlined for conceptualising the imagination, and its relationship to critical literacy and critical writing pedagogy. Key ideas are harnessed from the work of Misson and Morgan (2006) to analyse empirical data from a first year Sociolinguistics course for pre-service teachers.  I analyse two sets of data in which there are embodied enactments of contested gender issues across two contrasting genres. By drawing on theoretical and empirical work, the paper illustrates what form a critical writing pedagogy that foregrounds the critical imagination might take.

The analysis of empirical data attempts to answer the following research questions:

  • How can critical writing pedagogy be extended to include a focus on the critical imagination?
  • How might the juxtaposition of creative and analytic writing enable the realisation of an embodied, imaginative critical writing pedagogy?

The data section of this article has two components: an overview of the topics and the most striking patterns from the full dataset, which is comprised of thirty dialogues and critical commentaries, and a detailed analysis of one assignment to illustrate what a critical writing pedagogy in which the critical imagination is foregrounded might look like.  Findings indicate that embodied literacy work across different modes and genres, can play a significant role in facilitating the critical imagination by enabling students to enact, perform and immerse themselves in different discourses, ultimately generating new insights. In thinking about practical implications of this research for teachers and teacher educators, I argue that while there is no singular blueprint for such a process, findings from this research provide ideas for a starting point that teachers, teacher educators and researchers can develop in their own contexts.

English Language Proficiency needs of pre-service teachers: An analysis

Chinelo Levi, Immaculate N. Dona-Ezenne

Assessing the English Language Proficiency Needs of students of General English Courses in the College of Education in Abuja, Nigeria, before using the appropriate and authentic activities that are technologically driven to strengthen  and/or remedy the affected English Language proficiency needs have shown evidence of improving teachers-to-bes’ communication skills as compared to the traditional mode of instructional delivery. Because of the importance of the teaching of English Language as both a subject and medium of instruction in Nigeria, being proficient in it is a prerequisite for every teacher regardless of area of specialization. This paper takes a new and indept dimension in analyzing English Language Proficiency needs of teachers-to-be through the students and the teachers’ eyes. The research took place between 2015 – early 2017, among all levels of students in the college. First, a need analysis questionnaire was distributed to 1,800 students; second, the researchers/teachers engaged in the analysis of 50 learners written and spoken Language using performance analysis.

The findings revealed a strong relationship between students’ self perceived English Language proficiency needs and the researchers/teachers inter-language analysis which show tenses, punctuations and critical listening as weak-points/area of needs. However, the areas of divergent of the two analyses show pronounciation errors in homophonic words and spellings. The implications of the outcomes of these analyses are discussed as it relates to the English Language future development of the students/participants.

 

Contact us

XL Millennium Conference & Event Management
Logistics and Conference Organisers
+27 21 590 7900

info@saeraconference.co.za

Linda Benwell - Project Director
Jacqui Bonello - Abstract, Registration & Delegate Management

Boardwalk Hotel and Conference Centre