Dire need for TEDI training to empower teachers, particularly schools in townships and rural areas

I have been teaching for over 10 years, throughout my teaching career I became cognizant of how the education system marginalizes children living with disabilities. My passion for special needs stemmed from my experience working in mainstream schools and teaching learners with disabilities. For instance, in one of the high schools I taught at I had a learner who was hard of hearing. She was a coder ( both her parents were deaf), but she had a hearing aid. The only knowledge that teachers had about her was that she is using a hearing aid and she should be placed in front of the classroom. I acquired more information about her because I was part of the School-Based Support team which offered pastoral care and academic scaffolding.

When I went to the workshops and seminars with teachers from other schools, especially the township schools and rural areas I realized that many teachers are faced with great challenges when it comes to learners with learning barriers, particularly SpLD (Specific Learning Disorders). In 2001, the Department of Education enacted White Paper 6 – Inclusive Education. The objective of the White Paper 6 was to redress the post-apartheid state of special needs and support services in education and training. The call was for the system be changed to an inclusive one where all learners can access education and training no matter what their individual needs are. This change would permit all children, including children with disabilities, to ‘develop and extend their potential and participate as equal members of society’ (http://www.included.org.za).  In 2008, the Department of education introduced the Screening Identification Assessment and Support Policy (SIAS) the purpose of the policy is to provide a standardized procedure for the identification, assessment and to provide programmes for all learners who require additional support to enhance their participation and inclusion in school (SIAS, DoE. RSA).


She had no idea how to address the boy’s issue and did not know what processes to follow to refer him to a special school.

I was taken aback most of the time when I went to these workshops that some of the teachers had limited or no knowledge of the two policies I mentioned before. The Department of Education does contact a number of workshops and training sessions, but only certain teachers are sent by the schools and as a result, the information is not disseminated effectively.  One of my colleagues once related a story of a boy she had in a class when she taught in a small town in the Free State. She taught Grade 2, and she had a boy that was mute. She had no idea how to address the boy’s issue and did not know what processes to follow to refer him to a special school.

I was very fortunate to attend the last TEDI workshop from the 25th to 29th March 2019 in Cape Town.  TEDI – Teacher Empowerment For Disability Inclusion is born from a partnership between the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Christoffel-Blinden Mission (CMB). The programme is co-funded by the European Union and CBM.  The objective of TEDI is to empower teachers to provide quality education for learners with severe to profound sensory or intellectual impairments: severe to profound intellectual disability, D/deaf and hard of hearing and visual impairment. According to Mrs. Thandi Henkeman, the development of the programme stemmed from research that is focused on inclusivity, diversity and addressing learner’s impairments-specific needs.

I firmly believe that the Department of Education (DoE) needs to partner with UCT  and other universities to empower teachers in the townships and rural areas to realize inclusive education.  Teachers in the township and rural schools are facing many challenges, they lack resources and are incapable of addressing the needs of children with SpLD. The DoE needs to set a budget and send teachers to the training that will empower them to be fully functional in an inclusive setting. The programmes should be at least a year long and teachers should be given a certificate from the university.  I can attest that it will motivate many teachers and it will also help them to accumulate points for the Continuous Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) as required by the South African Council for Educators (SACE).

In addition, teachers who are currently training including those who are doing their Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) should undergo mandatory training in Special Needs Education and Inclusive Education.  There should also be ongoing upskilling of teachers and as a prerequisite as part of the CPTD a special category for Special Needs Education and Inclusive Education should be gathered on an annual basis as there are always new developments within the field.  

Over and above I believe that if teachers are empowered, given all the necessary knowledge, skills and tools it will do justice to the children who are living with disabilities to acquire not only adequate but quality education and as mentioned in the White Paper 6 children will develop to their maximum and extend their potential and participate as equal members of the society.

Sizi Matthews Botsime

Educationist and Education Activist


The Hidden Curriculum A Stumbling Block To Nation Building

020217_Hidden-Curriculum-1024x512Source: https://goo.gl/YdLyKV

 

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.” G.S Lewis

The construction of a nation has always been regarded as a purely political affair which was directed and interpreted by political elites in post-colonial Africa. The rise of conservatism in society and the deliberate use of race and ethnicity as tools of mass mobilisation have dented prospects of social cohesion in many African states. In South Africa, it has been the realisation of a ‘nation’s frame of mind’ among citizens that has proven nearly impossible to achieve, greater interrogation seems to suggest that the structure of the South African education system is partly to blame for this state of affairs. The automatic reaction to that contention is always to assume that its educators, schools and curricula that are to blame for the outlook of learners. The hidden curriculum in the South African education system receives very little scrutiny let alone its damaging effects on the psyche of learners.

The hidden curriculum, according to sociologist Michael Haralambos, consists of those things pupils learn through the experience of school rather than the stated educational objectives of such institutions. These among others include attitudes, behaviours and viewpoints. The hidden curriculum is vital in the creation of knowledge because, while the main curriculum attempts to teach children to be independent critical thinkers, the hidden curriculum teaches them to uphold and propagate ideology thereby reproducing socially unjust practices. While schools maintain that they are non-racial, non-sexist institutions, their hidden curriculums are a direct opposite as they exhibit extreme levels of heteronormative bias. This is important because non-racialism and non-sexism are universal values which are the pillars of any nation building project and once consensus lacks on such values, a fertile ground is laid for social exclusion and dehumanisation.

The hidden curriculum continues to undermine the creation of nation frame of mind in South Africa because it promotes a view that the departure from apartheid rule to democratic rule is an aberration; this is also a by-product of how South African history is taught at schools, the overemphasis on colonialism creates an impression that there’s nothing more to South African history but colonialism. This then perpetuates stereotypes that the sense of community, civility and the concept of a nation were a result of colonisation. It is easier to list all the challenges the hidden curriculum poses to nation building, but what is difficult to answer is the question of how we can use the same hidden curriculum as a tool for nation building? The answer to this question lies in the educators because a country can change curriculums but what is important is the consciousness of its educators. It is through their consciousness, dynamism and their ability to identify the implications institution like schools have and the indelible mark they leave on young people’s psyche. Hopefully through the coming snippets one will be able to unpack in detail how we as society can change this trajectory, not only at schools but within families and the various institutions that make up society.

This blog was written by Prince Charles, a strong civic nationalist and post-religious youth activist.

Meet Prince Charles…

Prince Charles

Prince Charles, born in Komani in the Eastern Cape, is a politics and sociology graduate at the Nelson Mandela University. He is a strong civic nationalist and post-religious youth activist attached to the Activate Change Drivers Youth Network. He is currently based in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.

Follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook  and Twitter (@Prince_Tshalz).

Prince is one of our regular contributors on #YPLEngage and we look forward to engaging further.

 

Mother-Tongue Education is Critical In Early Years of Learning

In education, if a child is taught in his or her mother-tongue, it is more advantageous than using a foreign language. The child is most likely to acquire knowledge with ease and do well in their learning. In this article, I am going to emphasise the importance and advantages of teaching children in their own mother-tongue particularly in their early years of learning.

Firstly, language is a communication tool and it is more complex than just speaking. Language is the cognitive faculty that enables human beings to learn and use a system of complex communication. Human beings acquire through social interaction in early childhood, language reflects human culture, social grooming, social structure and group identity, therefore language carries an identity of human beings. Mother-tongue has many definitions. However, it is a language that a child is exposed to from birth.

Mother-tongue education is education which uses the language which a person has it’s medium of instruction that is a person’s mother tongue, meaning the language a person has acquired in their early years and has become their natural instrument of thought and communication ( Tollfeson (1991) cited in Kamwangamula (2000). I firmly and strongly believe that teaching children in the own mother-tongue it is pivotal and children are most likely to do well in their education. My notion is scaffolded in an article I read about mother-tongue education by Tshepiso Matentji, a registered psychologist. In her article, She made an argument that it is in the best interest of the child to pursue mother tongue instruction within the foundation phase. She said that it is critical for black learners, particularly who come from bi and multilingual familial contexts. I share the same sentiments as Matentji. In South Africa, there is a big problem of illiteracy in schools. Children cannot read and write. I believe it is the result of LOLT (Language of Learning and Teaching). South African schools have two media of instruction: English and Afrikaans. The two languages, as a result of historical context, continue to have elevated status while other languages continue to be marginalised.

On the contrary, it is enshrined in the constitution of South Africa that all the languages should be equal. I started school in 1994 and I was taught in Setswana. 24 years later I can still remember what I was taught by my Grade 1 teacher; I remember how our teacher taught us phonics (vowels, consonants, split digraphs, decoding, and encoding) and in Math, the number operations and Math vocabulary in Setswana. I was introduced to English in Grade 5 and it was easy for me to understand because I had already acquired the rudiments in my mother-tongue. I was taught in the language that I was exposed to at home and school, and that helped me to acquire and retain what I have been taught. Unfortunately today, many children today are coerced to learn in the language that is foreign to them and as a result, they cannot acquire the basics. The children are only exposed to the language for a few hours, only when they are in class. During playtime and after school the children express themselves in their mother tongue.

Many parents are not competent in the English language, therefore they cannot be involved in the education of their children. They cannot help them with their school work unlike us, our parents could help us with our school work because they could understand what was expected of us to do.

When I started teaching in high school in 2012, I used to blame the primary school teachers which is still the case today. The high school teachers blame the primary school teachers for not teaching the children how to read and write. In 2015 I transferred from high school to primary school because of my passion for special needs education and remedial teaching. I realised how important it is that children should learn in their mother tongue.

The school I taught in was a former ‘model c’ school. The foundation phase teachers were all white and the children were mostly black and coloreds, coming mainly from Sesotho and Afrikaans speaking backgrounds. The teachers tried their level best to teach but there was great difficulty in learning because children had not acquired the language used as the medium of instruction. A fellow colleague, Grade 1 teacher shared her frustrations with me that some children did not understand her and she could not understand them either because they cannot express themselves in the language of learning and teaching.

Nhlanhla Maake (Sunday Times, February 2014) advocated that to teach children well, do so in their own language. Maake was born after the Bantu Education Act of 1955. The support of the education was to educate African children in their mother-tongue. Like all the children who were subjected to Bantu Education from Sub A (currently known as Grade 1) to standard 6 (currently grade 8), she was taught all her subject in her mother-tongue (SeSotho). English and Afrikaans were treated as subjects. She was only introduced to English as a medium of instruction in the first year of high school because teachers did not code-mix and code switch, except in the cases where they improvised.

If one is taught in their mother-tongue from their first year to 8th Grade like in the cases of Maake serves as an advantage. The time one is introduced to another language, for instance, English, one has already grasped the concepts in their own language. The use of mother-tongue teaching has been advocated pre and post-1994 in South Africa but the outcomes have seemed to arouse mixed feelings. For example, many people have the mentality that one will not succeed or be employable in the future if they learn in their respective mother-tongue, compared to learning in English. I wrote an article about the dynamics in the curriculum continuing to fail both teachers and the students. I discussed that the curriculum needs to be revised and there is a dire need for the revolution in the education system.

The DBE (Department of Basic Education) should reconsider the LOLT, particularly for the schools in the townships and rural areas.

This blog was written by Sizi Matthews ‘Afrika’ Botsime, an education activist and English Learning Support Teacher.

Meet Sizi “Afrika” Botsime…

Sizi

 

Sizi Matthews Botsime,  popularly known as Afrika, was born at Bloemfontein in Free State and matriculated at Tsoseletso High School in 2005. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Rhodes University, as well as an Advanced Diploma from the University of Johannesburg.

Afrika is a Learning Support Specialist by day as well as a passionate education activist. “I am an educationist and I advocate for equal and inclusive education, particularly for students with specific learning difficulty (SpLd).  My call is for the Education Revolution, I firmly believe that education should be tailor-made and each student should be developed wholly and equipped with tools that will make them self-reliant and functional in the future. I am a community builder, I believe that we all have a social obligation and we are ought to serve our people. I am patriotic and would love to see South Africa progressive. I am also a Pan-Africanist, I covet to see Afrikan states work together in a betterment of the people across the continent.” He defines success as “… when we use all the skills and knowledge that we have acquired to transform the lives of the people in your community.”

One of his favourite quotes is “..education is an engine for self-development. It is through education that a  daughter of a peasant will become a doctor, a son of a mine worker will become a manager  and a son of a farm worker will become a leader of a great nation” by our former President and legend, Nelson Mandela

Follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook (Sizi Matthews Botsime) and Twitter (@mattbotsime).

Afrika is one of our regular contributors on the #YPLEngage platform.

Welcome to #YPLEngage

 

Skhumbuzo Mpisane

Hello there.

Perhaps you landed on this blog by mistake or you were referred to it by a friend of a friend who told you we publish mind-blowing articles by young, black, intelligent advocates. Well if the latter is the case, or not, I would like to officially welcome you to #YPLEngage.

Firstly, I would like to briefly tell you about us, YPL. The Young Professionals’ League is a movement that aims to inspire young black youth through education. Our vision is quite simple – we want to make quality education a norm and not a privilege. We aim to do this by intentionally focusing on working with young people to build both their cognitive and non-cognitive skills.

Beyond working with young people we aim to challenge the status quo, the injustice that we have lived with and unfortunately have accepted as a norm, through thought-provoking dialogue. This we do through the #YPLEngage.

Here you will get to read monthly articles that are written by these intelligent people who will converse on how the past, present and proposed laws and policies have and will affect the education of a black child in a township or rural area, and so much more.

#YPLEngage will tackle issues related, but not limited to:

  • Proposed policies around education (their implications on township/rural area located schools).
  • Comments made by the state that relate or could be related to the quality of education for the black child.
  • Current politics and its possible impact on the quality of education for the black child etc.

As you might have noticed the phrase “black Child” or black, in general, is repeated often in our writing. This is simply because we are a pro-black organization and as such we speak from our lived experiences. We speak like black people, young people, and how poor education has affected us and those who are coming after us. We speak from the point of view of people who are born into an unequal system that aims to oppress them.

With that said, get ready to be challenged, to be moved from your comfort zone. We hope at the end of the day you will be moved to act; use whatever platform or space you occupy to challenge any form of injustice you see.

Join the conversation and let’s make a change.

Get ready to #Engage!

Skhumbuzo