he educational sector, Mandela’s clarion call implies total “reengineering” of educational provisioning by implementing interventions that change profiles and performance of dysfunctional schools. Perhaps, instead of reclassifying Gauteng “Township Schools”, we could “reengineer” the following sickly components South Africa’s basic education:
Creating robust and reliable school inventory of infrastructures and tighter renovation schedules and harsher sanctions for non-compliance by service providers;
Create effective and efficacious circuit/district managerial teams to provide on-site support for schools;
Create comprehensive learner profiles across grades to monitor progression better and circumvent incidences of “condonation” and “progressing” learners even when they fail performance regimes.
Rethink robust and practical ways of leveraging from rich Annual National Assessment tests data to systematically intervene in real time at the “sickly” components of basic education;
Create robust internal school governance profiles at national and provincial levels to share best practices and enforce accountability;
Create national/provincial leadership profiles of schools in terms of gender, race, experience and qualifications to ensure that professionally qualified personnel are entrusted to lead and manage schools;
Create robust and competitive teacher recruitment, training and development strategies to recruit and retain only the best and talented personnel;
Strengthen community and school partnerships to embolden ownership, culture of excellence and accountability;
Transforming learning ecologies into centres for creativity, innovation and improvisation to challenge learners breach knowledge boundaries; and
Infuse entrepreneurial curriculum into school education to create incubators for innovations.
Only an integrated approach towards these key educational deficits and challenges has potential to substantially enhance South Africa’s educational provisioning and quality, credible learners” performance across grades and overall system’s efficacy and management.
The proposed reclassification of Gauteng Provincial “Township Schools” based on a) Matric pass rates b) Maths and Science pass rates and c) Bachelor pass rates, makes the following flawed assumptions that:
Educational provisioning in South Africa is equal and of high quality. The reality is that learning environments are unequal and hugely differentiated;
Learning ecologies are adequately resourced. School environments remain hugely unequal in terms of resource allocation, distribution and utilization despite the adoption of the Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure;
Schools are staffed with teachers steeped in the official curriculum and its teaching and assessment methodologies. South African schools have not acquitted themselves well on teacher professional and classroom efficacy;
South Africa embraces globally accepted learner performance and achievement regimes. The country’s overall performance benchmarks do not compare favourably with international performance regimes. “Condonation of learners with a 20% pass in Maths” to progress to grade 10 and adoption of the “Failed but Progressed” learner policy do not enhance quality of education system. On the contrary, it adds to a cohort of learners devoid of requisite skills to penetrate the fast growing knowledge economy; and
Culture of excellence drives school organization and management. South African schools have not infused excellence as a non-negotiable practice across schools.
Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, states “Success will go to those individuals and countries which are swift to adapt, slow to complain and open to change”. It might be prudent for South Africa’s educational technocrats to heed Schleicher’s wise articulation to enhance educational provisioning. Reclassification of schools invokes our sad apartheid historiography about segregated educational system.
I acknowledge financial support for the publication of this article from the National Research Foundation, South Africa. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and don’t represent those of the organization he is affiliated to.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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