South Africa: Teacher training in Keiskammahoek

tol chalkboard logoFor the last 15 years, a large number of high school students in the Keiskammahoek district (in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa) has left to study in nearby urban schools. Two major reasons are often cited: very few of the 20 local high schools provide Physics and Mathematics as subjects (instead they offer basic Maths Literacy); and the quantity and quality of matric passes are low in the local schools.

This is where the Rhodes University’s Maths and Teacher Professional Development Programme is critical. In partnership with local community institutions, the University has agreed to recruit 30 Physics and Mathematics teachers from Keiskammahoek. They will receive bursaries, contact tuition and classroom support. If it succeeds, this programme will dramatically improve the availability of skilled local teachers who can provide quality teaching. In one school already, Maths Literacy is being done away and will be replaced by Mathematics.

As I write this, efforts are now underway to reach all the high schools to ensure that teachers apply for the programme. These efforts have come up against an ongoing go-slow strike by teachers who are unhappy about work overload and many other unmet demands. As legitimate as these demands may be, already 6 weeks of valuable teaching time have already been lost in a crisis-ridden education system. This underlines the importance of the voice of parents and the broader community. The Rhodes programme will be incomplete without this voice. Local community institutions are now mobilising parents to be active participants in schools and that they overcome wrong perceptions about how difficult Mathematics is.

Jara is a member of the Ntaba ka Ndoda Heritage and Development Centre which is a key local community institution in Keiskammahoek.


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