Thursday, 19 September 2019

Community Support for Amathole Teacher Futures School

Elukhanyisweni Secondary School, situated in the Amathole District of the Eastern Cape, is one of the schools participating in the Commonwealth of Learning Teacher Futures programme. The programme aims to support teachers in developing digital skills and creating communities of practice so that they can provide better teaching and learning opportunities for rural learners.

Whilst Elukhanyisweni had computers and received a donation of tablets from MTN, the school has been burgled a number of times and a lot of the digital tools have been stolen.  At the Change Leadership for Digital Learning course, facilitated by SchoolNet SA, Mr Ayanda Oliphant, principal of the school and Ms NomaLungisa Maxengana, Head of Department reported that the burglaries have been worrying and demotivating for both teachers and learners. They were advised that getting the support of the community for the school's vision may help to keep the school's equipment safe.

On 16 September 2019, Mr Oliphant and Ms Maxengana attended a community executive meeting and appealed for community assistance in preventing burglaries at their school. In a moving speech (that can be viewed here) Nomalungisa explained that the school aims to produce learners who are competent globally, and learners who will not look down upon themselves because they are products of a village school. She noted that "we don’t wish our learners to have an inferiority complex when among their Johannesburg and American counterparts."

Maxengana informed the meeting about the Teacher Futures programme facilitated by SchoolNet explaining that "SchoolNet started by training a few teachers in our school, then we will train our colleagues, so that at the end of the day we all teach the modern way, infusing technology in our teaching." The community agreed with the vision shared by Maxengana that "teaching with technology will not only benefit learners, but the whole Msobomvu community will be enlightened". 


After getting the buy-in of the group the school leaders said that the success of the programme would require community cooperation to make sure that the sponsored technology is valued and protected for the whole school community to benefit. The community was deeply moved by her speech and unanimously voiced their willingness to prioritize ensuring the security of the school. Furthermore, the provincial Department of Education plans to fence the school.

Hlengiwe Mfeka, who manages the Teacher Future programme for SchoolNet SA, says that Mr Oliphant and Ms Nomalungisa from Elukhanyisweni Secondary school have consistently attended all scheduled workshops. They were one of the first schools to submit the required documents to earn various badges and they try their best to implement what's been learnt in the workshops. These school leaders also share their best practices and learnings with the rest of the Teacher Futures Community of Practice via the project WhatsApp group. We are hopeful that now that the community knows more about the vision of the school that they will help to protect the digital tools so that they can be fully used to benefit teaching and learning. 

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