Mr Bonginkosi Zulu (cum laude), Mr Siphiwe Zungu, Mr Thokozani Biyela, Ms Nhlanzi Chlarisa and Mr Andile Mbhele were thrilled to receive their degrees of Master in Education. Their research was supervised by Dr Cedric Mpungose.

Zulu’s study explored teachers’ reflections on the teaching of Mathematics in Grade 4 in Nongoma Circuit Management Centre. ‘Teachers are failing to reflect on their practices of teaching Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) subjects in order to produce quality results, and this hampers the teaching and learning process,’ he said. 

His findings show that most teachers are driven by social reflection (the societal rationale for teaching Mathematics). However, after an intervention was administered, the findings indicated improvement, with teachers also driven by self-reflection (the personal rationale) and written reflection (professional rationale).

‘Teachers should reflect on their teaching practice to improve their performance, and the Department of Basic Education should organise on-going capacity building workshops so that teachers remain well-informed on pioneering methods for teaching Mathematics in Grade 4,’ added Zulu.

Zungu conducted critical action research with four principals who manage CAPS in rural secondary schools in Khanyisa Circuit. ‘South African schools are witnessing poor management of curriculum and this leads to dysfunctional schools. I hope to empower and transform principals’ understanding of their practices by enhancing their understanding of the critical concepts and principles that underpin CAPS,’ he said. 

The findings revealed that principals are influenced by both social and professional practices at the expense of personal practice when managing the curriculum. Personal practice should be the primary building block to meet their own needs before addressing the needs of the profession (the Department of Basic Education) and society (students). 

Biyela explored teachers’ experiences of teaching Mathematics in the Intermediate Phase (Grades 4-6) in Nongoma Circuit. The study found that, teachers lack professional experience (qualifications) and are more driven by societal experience (drawing on opinions) and personal experience (based on personal needs). ‘The Department of Basic Education appointment policy should be reviewed in order to appoint qualified teachers; principals should allocate the] teaching of Mathematics to qualified Mathematics teachers, and school governing bodies and school management teams should support Mathematics teachers with the necessary resources,’ she said. 

Chlarisa explored principals’ strategies to manage CAPS in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase at Mahlabathini Circuit Management. The findings indicate that, although the principals’ responses involved a skills and knowledge management strategy, an attitude management strategy drove the management of curriculum in schools. ‘The Department of Basic Education should review theCAPS policy document to include guidelines on strategies to manage CAPS that furnish principals with theknowledge, skills, and values/attitudes required for local, national, and international management activities,’ she said. 

Mbhele explored lecturers’ strategies to decolonise the English curriculum at a South African university. ‘South African universities have witnessed student protests calling for decolonisation of the curriculum, as a way of addressing the passive nature of education. The inability of university lecturers to decolonise the university curriculum has been current discourse,’ he said. 

The study revealed that the university environment left lecturers with no option but frequent use of verbal and habitual strategies to decolonise the curriculum. However, they would prefer to use written strategies. Mbhele argues that universities are not doing enough to help lecturers craft relevant strategies to decolonise the curriculum, particularly English. ‘English lecturers should use all three strategies to decolonise the university curriculum,’ he added. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal