Driving positive change in Mpumalanga education

To ensure sustainability and progress in improving education delivery, the NECT conducts regular monitoring visits in rural schools, engages with parents, encourages collaboration to improve educational outcomes and gives schools a fresh start through the Fresh Start Schools Programme (FSSP)

Bohlabela District played host to a National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) meeting last month, which discussed curriculum coverage and learner results in schools. The meeting was held with the District Director, Lorraine Goba and was very well attended by principals, teachers, parents and subject advisors. 

Circuit managers and subject advisors were given the opportunity to present their analysis of the results in the General Education and Training (GET) and Further Education and Training (FET) phases. They found that midyear learner performance was low when compared to the same period last year.

The district’s main target is for learners to pass with an average of 50%. However, the midyear results did not meet this target and the district decided that for the target to be achieved grade eight and nine learners should be prioritized, after establishing that the cause of their poor performance was inadequate development and preparation from the Early Development Phase (EDP).

In response to this, intervention strategies and turnaround solutions – including a revised subject advisory methodology – were developed to improve performance across the district. New strategies, including innovative teaching techniques, have been introduced to support examinations and to mitigate the poor performance challenges.

To deal with curriculum coverage, a contributing factor to poor performance, the Manyeleti Circuit is using what they call ‘teach until the end strategy’ – which encourages a full coverage of the curriculum, and is inspiring other circuits to do the same. The strategy allows for adequate curriculum support and moderation from subject heads, weekly monitoring of curriculum coverage by the school management team and revision focussing on past exam papers, as well as monitoring programmes for underperforming schools.

District Director, Lorraine Goba encouraged the NECT Change Agents to become acquainted with examination officers and to set up their own classes to give lessons in the respective circuits. Parents urged Goba to call upon well performing schools to collaborate with underperforming schools in order to improve results.

Collaborating to improve education

Any school can improve performance through collaboration among parents, teachers, learners and the community at large. The NECT, founded on the basis of collaboration, is driving all stakeholders to work together towards a brighter future for South Africa.

This spirit of collaboration can be seen throughout Fresh Start Schools (FSS) in Bohlabela where working together has been put in practice. Principal Joyce Nxumalo of Mphaku Primary School said she is thankful for the presence of the NECT as this has sparked a new collaborative way of doing things. She especially thanked NECT Change Agent Sarah Ndlovu, who is driving the project in schools.

“The NECT has improved the school in all spheres. Staff morale and parent involvement has improved, especially in campaigns run by the school, which proves that a good working relationship exists between community members and the teachers. This is evidence that when there is communication and collaboration amongst these key stakeholders, things can only improve,” added Nxumalo.

Principal Nxumalo is not alone in her appreciation. Khokhovela Primary School’s principal, Joel Mbowane, said that even though the school is faced with challenges such as poor infrastructure, they are not discouraged and will continue working hard towards ensuring that the learners perform above average. “Challenges are not stop signs but yield signs, therefore it is remarkable to see that the process of learning is not disrupted, but that lessons are conducted and everyone is playing their role. Development is an ongoing process, as the saying goes: Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Giving schools a Fresh Start!

The NECT’s flagship FSS Programme was established to assist schools that are in need of critical intervention. This programme recognises that every learner can be successful, despite their personal circumstances, and impacts on the ways in which principals lead schools, how staff is held accountable and how teachers plan and deliver their lessons.

In Bohlabela the NECT has already seen improvements in many schools. The FSS programme has delivered outstanding results in the areas of teacher performance, school management, learner welfare and development, curriculum management, training support materials, equipment infrastructure and facilities, parent and community involvement and district capacity improvement.

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