Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Letter: Our district's consistent good matric results show we have winning formula

By Dr Vusi Chuta Time of article published Jun 24, 2020

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The Department of Basic Education’s recent acknowledgement and recognition of Fezile Dabi District’s excellent and consistent academic performance of 90% and above for four consecutive years (2016-2019), clearly suggests the district has found a winning formula.

The formula of Fezile Dabi District, in the northern Free State, can be attributed to the collaboration between Kagiso Shanduka Trust (KST) and the Free State Department of Education (FSDoE) to improve education in the Free State in implementing an integrated district whole school development model, addressing infrastructure development, curriculum support, social welfare and leadership in schools at a district level.

The district’s success in producing the best academic outcomes ahead of its peers nationally lies in its “teacher-quality and quality-teaching” approach, which is anchored and complemented by dynamic and well-structured teacher development programmes.

Signed in 2013, the memorandum of understanding between KST and the FSDoE served as a vital component in the transformation of basic education in South Africa.

The nature of the KST partnership with the Free State Department of Education, has contributed significantly towards getting the programme off the ground and thus yielding positive results.

Research demonstrated that quality teachers make a significant difference in improving learner achievement.

To achieve its strategic mandate of improving learner performance, the district has, for a period of six years, streamlined and prioritised teacher development.

Experts have constantly emphasised the importance of empowering teachers through a variety of means, including collaboration and development of a culture of recognising shared responsibilities and values; and through professional learning communities (PLCs).

It is critical to understand the specific role of subject advisory units in districts to support the work of teachers and also strengthening the work of PLCs.

Our district has adopted a position that specifically focuses on building capacity among our teachers to sustain learner performance, not only at the level of Grade 12, but across all grades and circuits.

In collaboration with KST, we organised a series of teacher developmental programmes and trainings for subject advisers to enhance their content knowledge, for purposes of supporting teachers to improve learning outcomes.

This was followed by a similar two-year comprehensive developmental programme for teachers in the above subjects.

It is through such initiatives that several content gaps were identified and immediately addressed.

This resulted in the improved performance of the district in all these subjects since 2016 to date.

In my view, the collaboration with KST presents the best partnership model in the sector clearly designed to improve and enhance teacher-quality and quality-teaching in our schools.

Teachers in our district welcomed and affirmed the importance of these programmes and the visible support provided by our subject advisors to boost their subject content knowledge for effective teaching.

Chuta is the district director of Fezile Dabi District, Free State Department of Education.

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