It starts with a simple question?August 29, 2023
Improving discipline in schools – by acknowledging learnersAugust 29, 2023
Redcliffe Primary School
Redcliffe Primary School sits on a hillside, overlooking a rolling KwaZulu-Natal landscape. It is based in Verulam, a neighbourhood north of Durban. The area appears - to the local Department of Education, that is - to be ‘formal,’ in that most houses are made of concrete and are surrounded by tarmacked roads.
Look a little closer and you will find that there are pockets of extreme poverty where people live in informal settlements (where houses are made of materials like corrugated zinc sheets and there is little infrastructure). It is from these informal settlements that 90% of the learners enrolled at Redcliffe Primary School come. This context creates a problem for the school in that the Department of Education - based on the formal appearance of the neighbourhood - only gives the school “Quintile 4” funding. In reality, however, barely any of the learners actually come from such ‘formalised’ neighbourhoods.
The result? A primary school that has a severe deficit and is struggling to keep afloat. “The electricity and water bill is R20,000 per month,” says Mr Zwane, the principal of the school, “but I am only given half of that bill.” He recalls that there were 400 learners in the school when he started. There are now over 1,000 - and the school is struggling to cover costs. “Fundraising… When I wake up in the morning, I think about it. When I go to sleep at night I worry about it.”
Minimum resources needed for big impact
The Edufundi Support Programme - which runs for three years in schools - has already completed its course at the school.
Central to the Edufundi Support Programme are the teaching techniques - which are adapted from Doug Lemov. These techniques have been adapted to suit a South African context - especially schools that struggle with resources like Redcliffe Primary.
The majority of these teaching techniques require little or no resources. For example, the Threshold Technique - in which learners are greeted at the door individually by the teacher in a fun way - does not require resources. Show Me, Joy Factor and STAR are other examples that require no extra resources. Some of the techniques - such as Exit Ticket, for example - require paper and planning - but even this can be done simply, on scraps of paper.
Seeing the difference
Mr Zwane has seen a great difference in the school since Edufundi has completed its programme there. Teachers seem happier and learners more engaged. The funding issue might still loom, but the energy in the school is better, and learner behaviour is too - at no cost to the school. “I used to have seven or eight learners sent to my office every day for disciplinary reasons,” he smiles. “And now I only see one - if that!”