Research Articles (School of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology Education)

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  • ItemOpen Access
    Issues surrounding teachers' readiness in implementing the competency-based 'O' Level Geography Syllabus 4022 in Zimbabwe
    (Society for Research and Knowledge Management Ltd, 2022) Chanda, Paul; Mafugu, Tafirenyika
    The qualitative study, which involved a multiple case study design, focused on the issues surrounding the readiness of teachers to implement the competency-based O-Level Geography Syllabus 4022 in the Zimbabwe secondary school system. In adopting a multiple case study design, the research sought to solicit the opinions of all Geography teachers in the Kwekwe district of Zimbabwe on their readiness to implement the competency-based O-Level Geography Syllabus 4022. A technique involving an analysis of primary documents published by MoPSE was done, and ten in-depth interviews with Geography teachers drawn from two secondary schools and two Focus Group Discussions (FDGs) from the same schools were adopted to generate data. The study established that the updated O-Level Geography Syllabus 4022 was introduced without enough consideration of the readiness of teachers for its implementation. It also emerged from the study that the breadth and depth of the issues surrounding teacher readiness to implement an updated syllabus require action to be taken from several fronts to ensure that the subject community is ready for its rapid delivery. Finally, the research paper recommends massive advocacy and sensitisation of O-Level Geography teachers who are at the helm of the user system to allow for effective delivery of the O-Level Geography Syllabus 4022 in the secondary school sector in Zimbabwe.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The STEAM vs STEM educational approach: the significance of the application of the arts in science teaching for learners' attitude change
    (OpenED Network, 2023) Okwara, Valentine Ukachukwu; Pretorius, Johan Pieter Hendrik
    This article critically examines existing literature on the importance of incorporating the arts into the teaching and learning of science subjects in schools. It explores the significance of the STEAM educational approach as an option in science teaching and learning that might provide a range of benefits to STEM learners. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics while STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. The argument in the article is focused on why leveraging such skills as creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, communications, self-direction, initiative, and collaboration, which are inherent in the arts, to strengthen the effective teaching and learning of science within the STEAM educational context is important for STEM learners. The STEM educational approach to science teaching and learning employs an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving aimed at equipping learners with 21st century skills such as critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, self-direction, initiative, collaboration, effective communication, and morals. It also aims at providing them with the opportunity to apply these skills through the practices, contexts, and processes of hands-on activities. These are targeted at understanding science and viewing science differently, which might enable them to participate in a STEM-career pathway. However, the framework for STEM does not fully support an understanding that creativity can exist in science and that science can be taught in multiple ways, including application of the arts. STEAM, on the other hand, is grounded in a transdisciplinary approach to science teaching and learning. It explores the application of the arts in science teaching and learning. This is aimed at improving the confidence, attitudes, and interests of learners in science through new approaches to problem-solving which might strengthen positive attitudes towards science. This approach incorporates the common processes of science and arts, which includes discovery, observation, experimentation, description, interpretation, analysis, evaluation, wondering, visualising, exploring, and communication.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A review of financial management practices in selected secondary schools in the Kwekwe District of Zimbabwe
    (PONTE, 2022) Mafugu, Tafirenyika; Njini, Stephen; Sithole, Burman Musa; Abel, Sanderson
    Many countries around the world have decentralized financial management decision-making to school leaders and their communities. Decentralization is believed to equip communities with better education compared to central authorities, since decentralization aligns schools with their local educational needs and preferences. The current study sought to evaluate the availability and efficacy of documents that guide school financial management in the Kwekwe district. The study used a mixed-method research design in which qualitative and quantitative data were collected concurrently. Qualitative data were examined thematically, while quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS to find frequencies. The study revealed that several documents guide financial management in schools. There are generally different levels of appreciation among the stakeholders on the efficacy of the documents in ensuring finances are properly managed. Most of the respondents believe that the documents available for financial management are very useful in financial management in schools. Although most of the respondents agreed that training sessions should be held for the official in school financial management, a significant proportion indicated that training sessions were rarely held. The benefits of a decentralized financial management system can only be realizeized if policies are well adhered to. The study recommends continuously ensuring the availability of relevant guiding policy documents and financial management training sessions. The study also recommends adopting ICT-based financial management in schools to circumvent the problem of principals moving away with the documents when there are transferred.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Institutionalising teacher clusters in South Africa: dilemmas and contradictions
    (Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, 2012) Jita, Loyiso C.; Mokhele, Matseliso L.
    Increasingly, teacher clusters are being used as a substitute for the more traditional approaches to the professional development of teachers. With this goal in mind, many provincial education departments in South Africa have sought to institutionalise and encourage the formation of teacher clusters as vehicles for the continuing professional development of teachers. What are the challenges of this institutionalisation and to what extent has it served teachers in their quest to learn from and with each other in clusters? In this article, we use a qualitative case study approach to examine the dilemmas of the institutionalisation of teacher clusters in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. Using mostly interview data with all the key central office administrators responsible for science and mathematics in the province, and a sample of the participating cluster (teacher) leaders and observations of their cluster activities, we discuss how the institutionalisation processes may have led to rather undesirable outcomes. We examine the way in which institutionalisation may have resulted in a reduction of the “opportunities to learn” for the participating teachers. We argue that, while the intentions of the policymakers to provide support and recognition for the teacher clusters were noble and progressive, the consequences of their intervention were somewhat negative and tended to bureaucratise clusters, thereby alienating teachers from these traditionally bottomup structures of professional development. We conclude the article by exploring what the possibilities are for teachers reclaiming the spaces created by the teacher cluster “movement” in South Africa.