The dynamics of implementing school-based teacher professional development in South Africa: a case study of one rural education circuit in KwaZulu-Natal.
Nhlumayo, Buhle Stella.
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To transform education in South Africa, it is necessary that teachers, school principals and the circuit manager be appropriately equipped to meet the mounting challenges and needs of this developing country through the accurate implementation of school-based teacher professional development. Drawing from Wenger’s (1999) social learning theory, Speck’s (1996) and Knowles’ (1984) adult learning theory and Liu and Hallinger’s (2017) learning-centred leadership, this study aimed to do the following: explore how teachers, school principals and the circuit manager understood and experienced school-based teacher professional development in this circuit; investigate why teachers, school principals, and the circuit manager understood and experienced school-based teacher professional development the way they did; and to determine what could be learnt from the dynamics regarding the way forward in implementing school-based teacher professional development. The study was grounded in the qualitative interpretive approach and employed a multiple case study as the methodology. All ethical issues were observed before and during data generation. To ensure trustworthiness of findings, multiple data generation instruments, such as semi-structured individual face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions, were used. 28 teachers and four school principals from four primary schools in a selected rural education circuit in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, and one circuit manager, were participants of the study. Content analysis was employed to analyse data. The conclusions arrived at indicate a cocktail of dynamics around the implementation of SBTPD in rural schools. These dynamics include a limited and restricted understanding of SBTPD on the part of the teachers, school principals and the circuit manager, which caused the failure of schools to initiate their own SBTPD programmes. Schools could use departmentally driven programmes to launch their own school-based programmes. This study also established that there was abuse of the cascade model of TPD, which displayed a need for capacity-building and a change of attitude for teachers so that they could use the model to benefit them. The researched schools used lack of infrastructure and facilities as a scapegoat for their abdication of the appropriate implementation of SBTPD. The study established that schools could use what they had to ensure the effective implementation of SBTPD. The study also found that there was a lack of intra-school and interschool collaboration that hindered the effective implementation of SBTPD. The study proposed that a school-based collective participation model, on the ground, would assist teachers to confront the reality in their contexts. Lastly the study suggested that teachers, school principals and the circuit manager could adequately benefit from the provision of capacity-building on understanding how to implement SBTPD in schools.