Abstract: Widespread concern about poor literacy performance in South African primary schools has led to an increased emphasis on assessment and  measurement of learner performance, and on service provider accountability.
In this context, Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy (MILL), a provider
of African languages and English training programs in the primary school, has
for several years conducted pretests and posttests to assess the impact of its
programs. Results from these tests did not, however, provide insightful
explanation for certain trends in performance, hence the decision to conduct an
in-depth study.

 

The study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness and uptake of MILL’s  Breakthrough to Literacy (BTL) program in Grade One classrooms by identifying underlying factors that may affect classroom practice and learner performance. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to gather data through the use of interviews, observations, and learner tests. Key findings illustrate that teachers’ literacy understanding had an effect on classroom practice and learner performance, and this was also informed by the quality of training. The quality and utilization of different means of support as well as the attitudes toward and perceptions of the program were key contributory factors as well. The research process, in addition to being important for informing our own practice, will serve as a blueprint for future studies, enabling the strengthening of organizational research strategies and methodologies. Findings from the study will also inform educators, donors, and policymakers concerned to maximize benefit from in-service literacy teacher training interventions.

 

About the author

Mandisa Magwaza is a Research Officer at the Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy; a non-governmental organization (NGO) specializing in the  development of literacy related material and the training of teachers on literacy in the first and second language. Her work includes identifying research opportunities for the organization, planning, designing and implementing research studies; monitoring and evaluation of literacy interventions and producing reports which assist the organization in identifying gaps and improving their literacy strategies. 

 

Mandisa holds a Masters in Research Psychology from the University of the Witwatersr and and possesses both qualitative and quantitative skills in research. Her interests are not only in education but also in gender studies and human rights issues. Her main interest in education is on the development of comprehension skills and her gender interest is on balancing the gender approach.

 
October 2017
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Administration

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.