Leadership strategies to enhance History learner performance in township secondary schools in the Ngaka Modiri Molema district
Managing the teaching and learning of History and the performance of learners in township secondary schools of South Africa over the last decade has been characterised by diverse opinions from different stakeholders. The singular predicament has been about the role of the past in humanities and of History in the national culture; the nature of discipline and its contribution to the education of school going children about what History should teach; and on what the pass rate target in History across the curriculum should be. Thus, the teaching and learning of History has generated several critiques from various stakeholders especially the young people, most of whom contest that History has no positive impact in their lives, but rather that it reminds them of the sad past of apartheid, characterised by dehumanising conditions. The study seeks to explore managerial leadership strategies that could be used to enhance learner performance in History township secondary schools of the Ngaka Modiri Molema District (NMMD). In addressing the problem of underperformance, I focused on History as a subject, guided by four theories namely; the managerial leadership theory, contingency theory, constructivist learning theory and the humanism learning theory. The selected qualitative approach adopted an ethnographic design to establish hidden inferences. A sample of respondents were drawn from two local municipalities namely Mahikeng and Rekopantswe through purposive sampling. A total of 30 participants took part in the study and comprised of learners above 18 years, the subject coordinator, subject advisor, principals, departmental Heads and educators. In analysing the data, both deductive and inductive reasoning was implemented using ATLAS.ti version 8.4 and thematic analysis. The data from interviews and meta-analysis of documents were integrated in the analysis and interpretation phase for corroboration under common themes and categories. The results of the study recommend some managerial leadership strategies which range from policy, to instructional leadership practice. Firstly, it indicates that internal leadership practice through the school management team in collaboration with the district office should begin by instilling some degree of awareness, self-discipline and commitment to the teaching and learning of History. This is followed by the need for a culture of acceptance built through social cohesion which warrants individuals to have some sense of connectedness and solidarity in the nation. This is linked with the idea that school principals could consider taking up a managerial leadership function rather than just management which limits their responsibilities to implementation alone. Secondly, with language of learning and teaching (LoLT) being a contributing factor to underperformance in History, it was indicated that instead of using the home language at the early stage of schooling that would subsequently be abandoned, a culture of communication within the school environment using the LoLT could be instilled to enable learners to become acquainted with the language of instruction as well as boost their self confidence in both spoken and written English. Alternatively, if the home language must be used as the language of instruction, then it should equally be applied in the assessment process and all through the GET and FET band rather than at a later stage (FET band) where learners are already at a disadvantage. Also, the findings indicate that the problem of resources in township schools is not only limited to the unavailability or unequal distribution, but also due to the difference in the geographical location of the schools. To ensure an equal distribution of physical and human resources across all the geographical areas therefore, management at all levels could prioritise making the available resources properly managed and maintained. In addition to the distribution of resources, it was further recommended that besides the incorporating of information and communication technology (ICT) which is to some extent not feasible in rural areas, more personnel could rather be deployed in those areas. Furthermore, the combination of History and Geography to form what is known as social science, was identified amongst the problems facing History teaching and learning. As a strategy, History could be separated totally from Geography in both the GET and FET bands to stand as independent subjects in an attempt to gain equal attention. In a nutshell, what makes this empirical study different from other existing knowledge lies on the elucidation that despite the presence of poverty within these communities, some parents strive to improve on the conditions by taking up opportunities in urban areas. Unfortunately, it still results in the absence of a parental figure, thus raising another motive beside negligence as to why some parental support systems are not felt. However, as much as there is a need to recognise and restore the rightful place of History as well as enhance learner performance, it should also be pursued for the right reasons because curriculum changes often come with far reaching pedagogical and socio-economic consequences.
- Education