Western Cape Education Department (WCED) teacher in-service development programmes with the emphasis on teaching and learning and the holistic development of learners
Martin, Jennifer Priscilla
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There is global interest in teacher education as a strategy for national development. More specifically, emphasis is placed on teachers as the driving force behind educational provision which is central to achieving high standards of learner achievement. This study focused on teacher in-service development and its role for effective teaching and learning towards the holistic development of learners. Extensive social inequalities, along the lines of race, still exist in South Africa almost twenty years into the new dispensation. This is evident by the vast majority of impoverished schools in previously disadvantaged areas. Learners at these schools experience a range of barriers to learning which impede teaching and learning. Consequently, teachers at these schools are confronted with a tensionfilled task: having to be sensitive to the needs of these learners, whilst at the same having to ensure their success. This is reflected in Department of Education (DoE) policies which emphasises principles of social transformation for redress and equity, coupled with the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills for the benefit of individuals in South Africa, as well as global trends. As a quantitative data collection method in this mixed method study, 55 teachers (of which 26 responded) from two schools, were asked to complete a questionnaire on the effectiveness of teacher in-service development programmes towards the holistic development of learners. Qualitative data collection methods entailed interviewing a principal of one of the schools; a social worker from the area; as well as a district officer from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). In addition, relevant DoE policies were reviewed. Findings reflect that teachers at impoverished schools are confronted with a range of challenges presented by learners in the classrooms. The findings also indicate that even though DoE policies reflect a commitment to teacher development, the in-service programmes offered to teachers mostly do not reflect the needs of teachers for the holistic development of learners. In instances where inservice programmes do assist with the holistic development of learners, findings indicate that the implementation thereof is challenging due to the high teacher: learner ratio and limited resources. Thus, recommendations include the periodic monitoring and review of long-term DoE teacher development initiatives whilst short term measures incorporate giving attention to impediments like lack of parental support and behavioural challenge. Long term measures, which are strongly recommended, encompass systemic change that facilitates the working together of a number of governmental departments. In so doing, educational reform takes on a society wide form, as it is evident that on its own it cannot abate poverty and the related effects. Thus, the DoE’s vision of education for social transformation towards redress and equity, as well as economic growth for individuals and South Africa is more plausible. These recommendations create a vital space for future research.