South Africa’s Education System: Stories of Crisis and Success

The ongoing education crisis in South Africa has arguably become common knowledge. There has been widespread commentary on the subject, most notably by South Africa’s minister of education who openly admitted that the country’s schools are in a state of disarray. Last month, BRIDGE’s work in teacher development focused on a significant challenge to our education system. Namely, the issue of teacher attrition and what can be done to overcome it. This critical view was tempered by a session on success stories in education.

Keeping Young Teachers in the Profession

Various reports have indicated a rise in recent years in the number of teachers who are leaving the field. With this in mind, our last Teacher Development Community of Practice turned the spotlight on keeping young teachers in the teaching profession. The meeting, held on the 31st of March at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, brought together an expert panel of school leaders to explore the many difficulties faced by novice teachers when they begin teaching. The panelists - namely Marina Burger, Candice Bremner, Hanno Prins and Zorina Dharsey -shared innovative ideas on how to facilitate student teachers’ transition from university to the classroom, as well as through the different phases of their careers. A point of concern was whether there exists a clear differentiation between induction and mentoring. The importance of scheduling mentorship sessions in the school programme was also debated, and panelists stressed the importance of giving teachers time for periodic and structured reflection.


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Successful School Leadership and Teacher Development Stories

Creative school leadership and teacher development interventions were discussed at our last Teachers Upfront Seminar. The meeting, which was held on the 25th of May at the Witwatersrand School of Education, centered on stories of successful schools in the South African education system. School Leadership expert Dr Mthiyane of the Wits School of Education highlighted the importance of effective leadership in delivering high quality education. The senior lecturer presented his research on school leadership practices that have worked in South Africa’s most underprivileged schools. Dr Cereseto, of Parktown Girls, reflected on the role of school leaders in supporting teachers and the different practices she applies in her school. The principal described the practice of peer observation and linked it to the improvement of teaching and pedagogical skill. Our in-service teacher panelist, Aubrey Ngobese, described what she has learnt as a veteran teacher in a South African public school and finally, our aspiring teacher-Sean Nkosi-shared his hopes and dreams for the education system in South Africa.

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