Journal of Educational Studies - Volume 12, Issue 1, 2013
Volume 12, Issue 1, 2013
Source: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp I –VI (2013)More Less
The premise grounding this special issue of the Journal of Educational Studies is that, for any institution of learning to function to its fullest, there is a need for sustainable learning environments on the one hand and social justice on the other. This implies that learners and teachers have to be treated with respect, justly and fairly in terms of the distribution of educational and other supportive resources. All authors herein demonstrate theoretically and empirically that sustainable learning environments (SuLE) advance the agenda of equity, social justice, freedom, peace, and hope. The common thread that binds this volume together is the strong voices of authors that give priority to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowerment; and rethinking development and global partnership. These constructs are informed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP 2005, 2-3), which reflects the priorities of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The papers in this issue show that for teaching and learning to be sustainable, this reciprocal relationship of justice and respect needs to be put in place. This volume brings together the exciting and informative voices of theorists, researchers, and practitioners of education to optimise educational opportunity and conditions for learning. The aim of the papers herein is to create sustainable learning environments and social justice.
Perspectives of black students on the use of the mother tongue at higher education institutions in South AfricaAuthor N.C. PhatudiSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 1 –15 (2013)More Less
Research indicates that mother tongue is an important medium of learning. It is also perceived as a medium of identity formation. The first six years of schooling are critical years in the development of the child. These are the years that are crucial in making certain that the child is educated in a familiar medium. A study was conducted among African students at two institutions, one a formerly white institution, and the other a formerly black institution, to determine the level of usage of their respective mother tongues (African languages) on campus in and outside of the lecture hall.
Language is a situated practice and is reordered differently depending on different spaces. The ethos, culture and character of each institution determine to a large extent how language identities are constructed and actualised. Whilst all students have high regard for mother tongue, those at formerly white higher education (HE) institutions feel that speaking mother tongue there had a discriminatory and negative effect on the non-speakers of the languages. Those at formerly black institutions felt that the dominant mother tongue should be spoken by all irrespective of the language background of students. Students at both institutions agreed that mother tongue had a place in HE, but the spaces where it could be used with ease differed according to the ethos of the institution concerned. Attaching value to the mother tongue by students will influence the success of mother tongue education, and thus can have positive spin-offs in teacher education programmes, influencing the extent to which they will be used in schools.
Dimmed voices of learners in democratic school governance : a threat to education for sustainable developmentSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 16 –32 (2013)More Less
Sustainable development and its educational approach, education for sustainable development, assumes the participation and involvement of all stakeholders in every aspect of education. With the dawn of democracy in South Africa, the concomitant expectation was that the ideals of the freedom struggle would be realised. One such an ideal was the participation of all stakeholders in governance at all levels. In this paper we explore the involvement of learners in democratic school governance. We argue that while the policy framework for learner participation in school governance was created and is being implemented, the actual realisation of democratic participation is strained. We adopted an interpretive stance to understand the realities related to learners serving on school governing bodies through the meanings that role-players assign to them. We found that neither the adult members, nor the learner members, perceive the learners to be equal partners on the school governing bodies; as such their voices in democratic school governance are muted and the ideals of education for sustainable development threatened.
Establishing differences with respect to the levels of awareness and attitudes of learners about environmental pollution : a comparative study of South African provincial secondary school typesSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 33 –45 (2013)More Less
This paper reports on a comparative study of awareness of and attitudes towards environmental issues involving learners from two provinces and school types. The population consisted of 753 learners from Mpumalanga and Gauteng. They were from ten schools, with five schools selected in each province. In Mpumalanga 250 learners were from public schools and 173 from private schools. In Gauteng 243 learners were from public schools and 87 from private schools. In both provinces the learners' ages ranged between 13 years and 23 years with (M = 16.0 years, SD = 1.8) [Mpumalanga] and (M = 16.1 years, SD = 1.7) [Gauteng]. Data were collected by means of a 24-item Likert-type scale made up of Awareness and Attitude subscales. Two hypotheses indicating that there was no difference between learners from the provinces and school types were tested. An analysis of variance indicated that in terms of the Awareness subscale, differences were partial, while differences were established for the Attitude subscale. The important fact that Mpumalanga-based learners were more environmentally aware and held positive attitudes is lauded here. This is because the reality is that they are growing up in an extremely polluted environment. An important implication of this study is that children should be taught to appreciate environmental issues. This is because when they receive a good grounding in these matters, it appears that they continue to be aware of and hold positive attitudes towards the environment.
The Millennium Development Goals of universal primary education, social justice, and sustainable learning environments : the global pictureSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 46 –60 (2013)More Less
One of the eight Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations is Universal Primary Education. Barely a year before the target date of 2015 set for the realisation of these goals, the research reported in this article first took stock of the global position with regard to the attainment of this ideal. The persisting elusion of the realisation of the goal of providing universal primary education is then looked at through, among others, the prism of social justice theory. With global policy statements already focusing on the post-2015 world, the article culminates in a vision of and a strategy for creating sustained learning environments which could contribute to the attainment of Universal Primary Education.
Enhancing synergy : a strategic interrogation of the intersection between social justice and the creation of sustainable learning environmentsAuthor Moeketsi Freddie TlaliSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 61 –75 (2013)More Less
This paper interrogates the intersection between the creation of sustainable Physical Science learning environments (SULE) and social justice (SJ). It depicts SULE and SJ as mutually inclusive processes and goals with a transformational and empowering focus. This depiction serves to strengthen the argument for development and the use of critical operational strategies that enrich and deepen the inherent synergy between SULE and SJ. A recent study and strategy on 'transformational learning of Physical Science through service learning for sustainability' (TLSL), is considered to advance the argument in this paper. The democratic and collaborative participatory action of the participants in this endeavour is pivotal. The centrality of the participants' participatory social action resides in the inherent issues of oppression, exclusion and power struggles. These realities influence the participants' commitment towards social justice principles of equity, peace, hope and freedom. The creation of sustainable learning environments is in the same vein imbued with realities associated with addressing learners' real life needs as well as those associated with the curriculum content which must be learned. The learning needs which are to be addressed can be derived from the services rendered by the participants, namely learners, parents and community members. Thus, learning and service take place simultaneously to the benefit of all the participants and the community. The participants' continual engagements that are characterised by mutual respect and trust enhance their working relations and communication to the extent that they become open and transparent about issues that matter.
"I am a university student, not a disabled student" : conceptualising identity and social justice in South African higher education through the capabilities approach lensAuthor Oliver MutangaSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 76 –88 (2013)More Less
This paper draws on data from an exploratory research project that was carried out at the Centre for Higher Education and Capabilities Research (CHECaR) at one South African university in 2012. I examine the experiences of one student, Jane1 who is disabled according to the university's categorisation of disability. She chose not to identify herself as such and did not declare her status to the university, even though students are encouraged to declare their disability/impairment status on the official application form. Although some students declare their status and thus are referred to the university's Disability Services Unit for Special Services, other students don't declare their status. Few studies in the Global North have looked at the reasons why some students choose not to declare their disability status. It is usually difficult to access the perspectives of those who choose not to declare. Theoretically, Jane's account provides some insight about the reasons why some students choose not to declare their disability status. Drawing on the identity concept, factors that influenced her decision not to declare, and the consequent effect on her experience of higher education (HE) are explored. The article uses the capabilities approach (CA) as espoused by Sen and Nussbaum, as a theory that foregrounds social justice issues in education. Using the CA's core concepts, the paper lucidly conceptualises disability and social justice, terms that are frequently but loosely used in both academia and policy. The CA helps in understanding identity and social justice issues and facilitates the understanding of the complexity, and interconnected processes.
Source: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 89 –102 (2013)More Less
Professional development of teachers is a cornerstone for the provision of quality teaching and learning in an education system in a country. Studies affirm that effective professional development programmes of teachers stand at the centre of proposals for improving the quality of teaching and the transformation of education. The Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) has been put in place to develop the competencies of teachers in South Africa. A major problem in professional development programmes of teachers offered is that teacher competencies seem not to be improving as envisaged, mainly because of problems experienced in implementation. For example, challenges to the IQMS include a tendency to lose sight of the objectives of its processes. The focal point in implementation becomes securing awards rather than improving the quality of teaching and learning, because the same instrument is used for development and performance management. Another challenge is that the IQMS policy does not directly encourage and motivate teachers or improve their morale as it focuses mainly on monitoring school effectiveness. Shortage of adequately qualified staff and large learner-teacher ratios exacerbate the problem in the implementation of this policy. In order to obtain the empirical data, we employed Participatory Action Research in two secondary schools in the Free State province. The focal point of the research was to demonstrate if there was a need to enhance teacher development programmes in the two schools. Findings revealed a lack of a coordinated plan and the non-involvement of practitioners and beneficiaries in the design and implementation of CPD programmes, to name a few.
Rethinking education : South Africa's unfinished agenda and its implications for sustainable learning environments and social justiceAuthor Lebusa MonyooeSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 103 –123 (2013)More Less
Taking a cue from the "SuLE" colloquium theme "Sustainable Learning Environments and Social Justice", this paper reflects on the South African educational gains and challenges that still undermine full attainment for targets enunciated in diverse policies. It deploys metaphors (orchestral ensembles and entropy) as tools for critical engagement to understand the genesis of some of these challenges and identify plausible interventions to address the situation.
The paper has identified the following as key challenges that should be addressed to complete the country's unfinished educational transformation agenda: (a) giving basic education a uniquely South African identity; (b) halting recursive curriculum overhauls that have not yielded quality performance and an efficacious system of education; (c) deploying a competitive teacher training and development programme to attract the best talent into the profession; (d) deploying educational norms and standards that are comparable with international benchmarking regimes; (e) accelerating the robust transformation of the higher education landscape; and (f) entrenching excellence in academia and the research ethos. The paper concludes with plausible recommendations that can deepen democracy and entrench social justice practices across the education sector.
"We live in strange times. In our day all you had to worry about was a baby, now there are illnesses ... our children are in trouble" : parents' perspectives on the teaching of sexuality educationSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 124 –136 (2013)More Less
Drawing on Wenger's theory of communities of practice, we explore parents of Grade 10 learners' perspectives on the teaching and learning of sexuality education. Two questions guided our research: What do parents understand about the teaching and learning of sexuality education? What does their understanding reveal about the teaching and learning of sexuality education in school? Our findings show that parents are not fully informed about what the sexuality education curriculum and teaching sets out to accomplish. Furthermore, parents are comfortable for their children being taught about sexuality as a precautionary measure, as opposed to it being a positive and essential part of human development. Parents were not agreeable to topics such as masturbation, sexual orientation and safe sex to be included in the sexuality education curriculum.
Conceptualising mathematics (numeracy) as an everyday experience by learners in a multi-grade classroomAuthor Wendy N. SetlalentoaSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 137 –144 (2013)More Less
This study focused on how the educator meaningfully introduces and teaches Mathematics (Numeracy) to Grade 1 to 3 primary school learners in a multi-grade classroom in such a way that it is perceived by learners as an everyday experience, while at the same time preparing them for higher-level Mathematics. As an observer, the researcher analysed data on classroom activities, learners' written transcripts, and interviews using a constructivist grounded theory approach and descriptive statistics. Data analysis revealed routines of practice such as maintaining open-endedness of the tasks, creating a context for mathematical connections and promoting understanding of generalisations. The educator created a context for mathematical connections between the assigned tasks and the learner's everyday experiences and also nurtured co-construction of ideas by creating opportunities for learners to collaborate, fostering collaboration, and balancing the support of discourse and content. Incorporating locally relevant contexts in the classroom, and translating unfamiliar contexts in the existing curriculum to situations that are more familiar and relevant to the learners, helps remove confusion surrounding contexts that frequently impede the learner's learning of Mathematics.
Source: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 145 –156 (2013)More Less
Teaching practice is an activity that is directly related to the school and classroom environment. It plays a vital role in developing teachers in a teacher training programme and therefore, it is critical that students are exposed to various situations that may lead to the creation of a positive school and classroom learning environment. Furthermore teachers need to be exposed to the concept of a "professional community of practice", which is an important approach that has direct positive influence on the promotion of sustainable learning environments. The study used the concept of 'sustainable environmental education' to understand student planning practice. This study explores how student teachers exposed to the same learning environment within the same school teach the same topic. The study used case study method. Data was collected from 3rd year student teachers who were doing teaching practice in one of the schools at a township in a province of South Africa. The students were purposefully sampled based on the interest of the lecturer after observing their classroom. During the observation the researcher also collected lesson plans to check their preparation. The study revealed that most of the students do not work together during teaching practice. The results indicated that student teachers are less knowledgeable about the use of human resources as a tool for learning. Understanding of the intricate dynamics associated with this "conduct" of not working together may provide insight into what needs to be addressed so as to promote the power of unity which may then result in the creation of a sustainable learning environments.
Mother tongue teaching through the Eyes ofPrimary School Teachers in the North WestProvince of South AfricaSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 157 –171 (2013)More Less
The paper is based on the perceptions of teachers regarding the teaching of mother tongue in two classrooms in a peri-urban area in South Africa. This study intended to find out about the perceptions of teachers regarding the use of mother tongue in Foundation Phase classes as stipulated by law. A qualitative and interpretive study on the perceptions of teachers regarding the importance and place of mother tongue instruction in schools was conducted in two primary school classrooms in the North West Province. Two teachers were interviewed and lessons were observed where Setswana and English were being taught. There was an aura of mixed feelings regarding the advantages of teaching in Setswana, especially in a multicultural area as in the context where the study was conducted. Despite teachers making their preference for teaching in English known, there was proliferation of Setswana in the teaching thereof. The study revealed that teachers preferred the use of English as the language of learning and teaching over Setswana, an indigenous language to the area where the study was conducted. English lessons were not getting the attention they deserved as code-switching in Setswana was more prominent than the focus language itself. It is recommended that Setswana be given more attention - as proficiency in the language helped learners learn an additional language.
Source: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 172 –188 (2013)More Less
This paper investigates the Opportunities to Learn (OTL) algebra that are afforded to high school learners in South Africa. It explores how differences in the OTL grade-ten algebra at three Catholic secondary schools may account for the differential performance of learners in mathematics. Using a qualitative research approach, we make the case that there is a need to redefine OTL mathematics beyond just the mastery of certain mathematical concepts and algebraic procedures. We argue that learning is enhanced when the learners develop the means to make the conversions within and between the different registers of representation of algebraic concepts. Teaching mathematics and algebra in particular, should therefore be about providing learners with the knowledge and skills to convert within and between different registers of representation of algebraic concepts. We conclude by arguing that OTL grade-ten mathematics will continue to remain uneven across schools largely as a result of the different chances that learners are given to make conversions within and between the registers of representation. We thus recommend that more strategic professional development interventions be offered to assist mathematics teachers with knowledge and skills to enable them to provide for these kinds of conversions in their teaching of mathematics.
Facilitating the development of reading skills at the foundation phase for creating sustainable learning environmentsSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 189 –200 (2013)More Less
The reading performance of South African learners was portrayed as one of the poorest in the world by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) Report of 2006 (Mullis, Martin, Kennedy & Foy, 2007). The fact that Sesotho speaking learners performed the worst in the Systemic Evaluations of 2003 and 2007 (Challis, 2007; Department of Education, 2003) concerned us gravely as Sesotho speakers and teachers. We therefore undertook an in-depth situation analysis in some schools in Mangaung in the Motheo District of the Free State Province, in South Africa. The aim was to determine how the Foundation Phase Grade 1 teachers were managing to facilitate the development of reading skills in Sesotho under their current deficient-resource circumstances. Lesson observations and interviews were done. Thirteen Grade 1 teachers from six purposively selected primary schools participated voluntarily in the in-depth situation analysis. Seven of those teachers from two schools participated as co-researchers in the action research. While following their self-formulated facilitation guidelines during their facilitation they were observed and evaluated by their peers and researchers. Data analysis revealed varying categories and themes regarding their roles in facilitation. Some depicted great challenges facing the facilitators, while others bestowed hope for improvement in their facilitation. Our critical reflection on the whole study made us appreciate the power of teacher-involvement in action research during facilitation. This proved effective in creating sustainable learning environments.
The integration of environmental education into the school curriculum : lessons for inclusion of sustainable development in higher education institutionsSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 201 –214 (2013)More Less
Central University of Technology through its Centre for Curriculum Development is mandated to equip academic staff members with among other skills incorporating sustainable development (SD) in the mainstream curriculum, where curriculum already seems to be overloaded. Inclusion of SD has become a burden on academics and the curriculum, because emergent expectations seldom consider the expertise and training needs required by academics to effectively deal with new curriculum additions, including SD.
While universities still lag behind in their pursuit for SD, the school sector has made significant strides from which universities can learn. This paper presents the results of a study undertaken to investigate how national policy and educators provide for the effective integration of environmental education into the school curriculum as a conduit for transforming society. A comprehensive literature review was undertaken, followed by a questionnaire survey. Twenty randomly selected schools in Bloemfontein participated. Twenty educators and ten learners were randomly selected from each school to participate in the survey. A self-constructed questionnaire was used to elicit information regarding educators' knowledge of environmental education, their attitudes, integration into curriculum and the learners' general knowledge on environmental education.
Results show that the school curriculum and policy offer opportunities for integration of SD/EE into the curriculum, but educators do not fully understand what methods to use. Raising awareness still remains as one of the most needed strategies to promote the inclusion of SD/EE in the curriculum.
"No ring, no such thing" : teacher positioning on the teaching of sexuality education in Life OrientationSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 215 –228 (2013)More Less
This paper reports on teachers positions when teaching sexuality education. Classroom observations of four high school Life Orientation teachers were used to determine whether they teach abstinence education, comprehensive sexuality education, or both. The value of observation, as a method of inquiry, is that it allows researchers an insider perspective of teachers in their own environment. Using positioning theory as a framework, we found that all four teachers used a comprehensive sexuality education framework, but positioned abstinence as the best option to avoid 'negative consequences'. In doing so, the teachers highlighted 'the negative aspects of sexuality' to encourage abstinence.
Author Finn ReyganSource: Journal of Educational Studies 12, pp 229 –239 (2013)More Less
Education conceptualised as the 'practice of freedom' and as a challenge to 'cultures of silence' holds particular relevance in the lives of sexual and gender minorities. In South Africa schools are ill prepared to teach about the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and to challenge homophobia: there is a lack of teacher training as well as a paucity of LGBTI-affirming materials. In this context, employing the work of bell hooks and Paulo Freire, I present a personal narrative of my experiences attending a heterosexist and homophobic school setting as well as my professional interest in developing intersectional, LGBTI social justice, anti-oppressive pedagogical interventions and didactic materials. The study also presents the development, in conjunction with the South African Department of Basic Education, of anti-homophobic bullying material. This material aims to challenge the widespread homophobia and deeply inscribed heterosexist habits of thinking and feeling in South African schools.