South African teachers’ perspectives on support received in implementing curriculum changes
South African education has experienced significant curricular reform since the mid-1990s, but its implementation has not matched expectations. This study explores teachers’ perspectives on implementing these reforms in schools, with the aim of ascertaining the challenges they faced in the process, and the kind of support, guidance and professional development programmes they received from the Department of Basic Education to facilitate the changes. This article focuses on their experiences of the government-based Foundations for Learning Campaign in schools in the uThungulu district, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Teachers from grades One to Six teaching languages and Mathematics were targeted, and a sample of 20 was purposefully selected. Using an interpretive qualitative research approach, data was collected by means of in-depth interviews, with open-ended questions, and classified by themes. The findings revealed that teachers felt inadequately provided with sustainable professional development programmes, and had minimal meaningful opportunities for classroom support, guidance and monitoring to assist in implementing the changes required. This small-scale investigation offers a stepping-stone for further analysis of assistance being offered to teachers across the country in times of curriculum reform, and thereby contributes towards preparing the ground for a new and integrated framework offering much-needed effective, systematic, ongoing professional development programmes that translate into improved teaching practice and learning success.
Keywords: continuing professional development; curriculum implementation; curriculum reform; Foundations for Learning Campaign; monitoring; support
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