Prof John Volmink, MIET AFRICA’s chairperson, shared his perspectives on what is learning at the opening session of the Global Education Leaders’ Partnership meeting, currently being held between 22 and 26 November in Auckland, New Zealand. As a member of a panel comprising delegates from New Zealand, Russia, Australia and South Africa, Prof Volmink’s contribution on ways of knowing and what is worth knowing – informed by indigenous perspectives, the growing diversity of our populations and the needs of society and economy – was highly appreciated by the 150+ delegates attending the event.
The Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development (ISPFTED) launched in 2011 identifies the establishment of teacher Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) as an important component in facilitating teacher development and in strengthening teacher professionalism to promote collective participation in professional activities for professional development.
Earlier this year, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) publishedProfessional Learning Communities – A guideline for South African schools, developed in partnership with the Flemish Development Agency (VVOB).
Aimed at Provincial and District officials and school-based educators, the practical and user-friendly guidelines contain invaluable information about setting up a PLC, including addressing the following:
• What are PLCs?
• Why should schools support PLCs?
• Key characteristics of PLCs
• Who is responsible for PLCs?
• Who are the key players in PLCs and what are their roles?
MIET AFRICA was proud to serve as the local convener of the Global Education Leaders Partnership (GELP) event: Building Future Learning Systems: From exceptional innovations to systemic transformation. The event, held in Durban from 19-21 April 2015, was jointly hosted by GELP global, GELP South Africa and OECD CERI (the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation).
GELP is a global partnership of system leaders in education who:
· aim to radically transform education for the future (not just seek improvement in the existing paradigm).
· collaborate to learn with and from each other.
· focus on education systems and system conditions and understanding how these affect learners and learning at scale
The Durban event was attended by international and Southern African delegates, who came together to share their knowledge, insights and experiences around innovation and transformation for 21st century learning.
Strong system leadership is a critical component and driver for effective and sustainable system transformation.
GELP is a partnership of “thought leaders” from world-class organizations. Teams of key education leaders – who are committed to transforming education in practice and developing the personal skills they need to lead the changes required – collaborate in a global community. GELP supports these education leaders to drive system transformation in their jurisdictions forward, in order to meet the challenges of globalization, demographic shifts and technological advancements.
South Africa is fortunate, through the province of KwaZulu-Natal, to have been invited to participate in this important international programme. The KZN GELP team comprises five members: two from the KZN Department of Education, one from UNISA and two from MIET AFRICA, the development partner – whose role is to coordinate and mobilize resources.
In October, delegates from twelve jurisdictions from six continents gathered as a community of system leaders at the 9th GELP Global Event in New Delhi.
Pongola learners take a science excursion
As an activity to commemorate National Science Week in August, learners participating in the Pongola Science and Mathematics Enhancement programme visited two Durban science centres.
On 28 August, the learners participated in activities at the KZN Science Centre at Gateway, and on 29 August they attended science career lectures and a field visit at SASRI (the South African Sugarcane Research Institute) in Mount Edgecombe. These were important opportunities for these FET learners to obtain first-hand information on career choices.
Through its 2013 new and improved education programmes, the KZN Gateway Science Centre assists schools to introduce their learners to the world of science and technology. Activities are based on the science theme celebrated each month. At the centre, the Pongola learners were taken through educational programmes on Biotechnology, Chemistry, Electricity, Mechanics, Sound and Waves, and Materials and Matter (Nanotechnology).
The Phongola Education Centre laboratory is a resource for the 32 high schools in the area. Schools can visit the centre to conduct the experiments required by the curriculum. The experiments help learners understand Science better and do better in their examinations.
Teachers can also borrow science kits from the centre to conduct experiments in their classrooms. MIET AFRICA’s tutors and youth science facilitators also visit the schools to help them with these practicals.
The aim of MIET AFRICA’s Science and Mathematics Enhancement Programme is to increase the numbers of disadvantaged learners who qualify for tertiary-level studies in Science- and Maths-related fields. All high schools in all four education wards in the Pongola Circuit were identified as beneficiaries.
So far, the project has enjoyed some spectacular successes; so many thanks must go to the funder, the Sugar Industry Trust Fund for Education. For example, of the 32 distinctions that all the learners in the Pongola Circuit obtained in the 2012 Matric exams, 29 were achieved by learners enrolled in the project’s Saturday and holiday class extra-tuition programme. These learners were drawn from only 16 of the 32 high schools in the Circuit. But the project also aims to support all 32 high schools, for example by making science equipment available to them, so that learners have the opportunity to actually perform the practicals required of them by the curriculum.
MIET AFRICA and Stockholm University are leading a North – South partner-driven cooperation between South Africa, Namibia and Botswana in the south, and Sweden in the north. The initiative is funded by the SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), and the countries are participating through representatives from their Ministries of Education, and representatives of one university and one NGO per country. The project responds to the international shift towards emphasis on creating inclusive systems of education, which has been promoted by several significant bodies and agreements, and is in-line with a human rights-based approach.
The initiative aims to strengthen understanding of what is meant by democracy and inclusion in educational settings, as well as attempting to address the question: What are the implications of an inclusive and democratic approach to teaching and learning on teacher education and development?
The initiative started in 2010 and through site visits to different educational institutions in the participating countries,