Turnaround strategy planned for Soweto Schools
24 Apr 2012
Since the Soweto Education Summit last year, the situation in Soweto schools has vastly improved, with more stability and less school disruptions taking place.
Educator unions, political organisations, faith-based organisations, youth structures, School Governing Body (SGB) associations, and departmental officials attended the stakeholder workshop held this Monday. The workshop reviewed the summit which took place on 9 April 2011, and assessed work done by different stakeholders in implementing the resolutions and declaration of the summit.
Stakeholders commended schools that had improved their performance in the 2011 matric results. However, Soweto schools still lagged behind other townships with a 67% matric pass rate in 2011 which is below the national average of 70%.
The GDE, at the workshop, presented its Soweto Intervention Strategy that seeks to improve the performance of the 50 secondary schools that achieved less than 70% in the 2011 grade 12 examinations and primary schools that obtained below 60% in the Annual National Assessment results.
As part of this strategy, these schools have monthly accounting sessions on curriculum delivery and an incubator programme. Teacher development started in February based on the five core subjects for intervention, Maths, Physical Science, English, Accounting, and Life Sciences.
The stakeholders agreed that the department should develop a Whole School Turnaround Framework to be presented at a later meeting for input and adoption. This framework will support underperforming schools in Soweto with a view to holistically improve their management, governance, and performance.
Interventions in the past have focused on the role of educators, parents, the department and communities in addressing the educational challenges in Soweto. The workshop felt that the department should convene a Learner Summit during Youth Month in June where learners can discuss solutions and challenges to some of the common problems faced such as truancy, bullying, attendance of extra tuition classes such as SSIP, learner behaviour and substance abuse. They agreed that learners should be central in shaping this summit.
The department has implemented the Gauteng Primary Literacy and Mathematics Strategy (GPLMS) to strengthen the teaching of literacy and numeracy in primary schools. Grade 4 -7 learners are undergoing a catch-up programme and their educators were given standard lesson plans for Term 1. Grade 8 learners have received catch-up material to prepare them for the secondary schooling phase.
The Secondary School Improvement Plan (SSIP) provides extra tuition during weekends and school holidays to Grade 10, 11 and 12. Several sites were identified to provide additional support to learners and further maximise the opportunities for learners to perform well.
The department has provided curriculum support to educators in relation to the CAPS (Curriculum Assessment and Policy Statement) and understanding of educational policies. There are also plans to conduct more teacher development programmes above the normal departmental training programmes.
As part of the achievements of implementing the Soweto Summit resolutions, all stakeholders have embarked on various interventions in areas of school disruptions, teacher development, governance, partnerships, management and leadership, quality, and learner support.
The interventions by stakeholders to date include, among others, the following:
- Provision of school governance support where parents were encouraged to support educators. SGBs made it possible to ensure that all members of the school community attended developmental programmes;
- Pastoral services to provide counselling to learners and educators who needed support including spiritual support;
- Parental involvement has been improved with parents doing voluntary work to supervise homework and scholar patrols. This parental participation in school safety and security has resulted in a reduction of vandalism in Soweto Schools;
- The Spelling Bee programme was introduced to improve literacy at both primary and secondary school level;
- Regular meetings between stakeholders and the Department resolved all matters of misunderstanding which impacted negatively on the provision of support to schools. Departmental officials are now able to visit schools without resistance to diagnose problems encountered by schools and provide appropriate interventions required by schools to improve their performance;
- Matters of discipline amongst learners and educators have been of primary concern, and some stakeholders have adopted some schools to improve their performance. Several meetings have been organised to encourage parents to ensure that learners arrive on time at school and attend SSIP;
- Programmes took place on substance abuse to ensure that schools are drug-free zones;
- Meetings and other activities which ran during schools teaching time have been shifted to weekends or after school hours;
- There are plans already to conduct teacher awards to further motivate teachers to go an extra mile.
The workshop acknowledged that these interventions needed to be synergised for greater impact in the Soweto region. Each organisation needed to put more effort to consolidate these gains and make further progress.
The stakeholders recommitted themselves to President Jacob Zuma’s non-negotiables that learning and teaching time should not be compromised each schooling day.
Issued by the Gauteng Department of Education in conjunction with Governors Alliance, National Association of School Governing Body (NASGB), National Association of Parents in School Governance (NAPSG) , Parents for Children with Special Educational Needs (PACSEN), Congress of South African Students (COSAS), National Professional Teachers of South Africa (Naptosa), South Africa Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), Young Communist League (YCL), Minister’s Fraternal, South African National Civic Organisation SANCO, Channel Islam International(CII) and Mkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA).
Tel: 011 355 1530
Cell: 071 860 4496
Issued by: Gauteng Education
24 Apr 2012
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