KwaZulu-Natal South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) Provincial Secretary,Ms Nomarashiya Caluza graduated with a Master’s in Education.
Her research looks at a case study of a school−teacher union partnership to facilitate school improvement.
‘This partnership was formed to drive an intervention to improve a school which was dismally underperforming in grade 12. The school was sinking in all respects. School performance was low, relations among teachers had reached a state of paralysis, relations between teachers and learners were poor and relations between the school, community and department officials was strained,’ explained Caluza.
Through this partnership, the school used in the case study improved in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations from a pass rate of 0% to 56% in the first year of the partnership, and from 56% to 100% in the second year. The research focussed on the school’s improvement through a partnership between a school and teacher union.
From a SADTU perspective, this partnership enabled resource mobilisation to improve the quality of education. In the teachers’ view, the partnership encouraged peer learning through mentoring and coaching. Although the Department preferred the results-based approach, it appreciated SADTU’s evidence-based approach which empowered management, teachers and learners through shared accountability for action and results.
The study also found that refocusing the commitment of teachers is key to improving school performance. The incapacity of principals and parents hinders the success of the partnership. The study also established the centrality of the principal in the formation of the school-teacher union partnership and its success in improving the school.
‘All schools and learners deserve quality education regardless of their location. There must be resources to aid the delivery of quality education in all schools,’ said Caluza. She argued that schools should know the challenges they face which result in poor performance. ‘There is a need for stakeholders especially teacher unions, parents and the officials of the department to work together in finding solutions that can improve schools. School leadership and management is central to school improvement. Hence the need for continuous school leadership development. The teacher is central for the success of any learner.’
Caluza also managed to strike a balance between studying and her many leadership roles. She offered advice to other scholars, saying: ‘Perseverance and working together with your supervisor is key. Stick to the timeframes and attend to your chapter revisions timeously. Decide on a title that you love so that you’ll love your study.’
She thanked her family, friends and supervisor, Professor Inba Naicker for their support and encouragement. ‘I am now graduating because they walked with me throughout this journey. My mother refused to let her socio-economic status decide what I become. My mother is my hero. I also thank my late dad for the love he had for me.’
Speaking about Caluza, Department of Basic Education Director-General, Mr Matanzima Mweli said: ‘Her passion has always been to empower teachers, school principals and managers at all levels of the education and training system. She has always been occupied with the need to get underperforming schools in KZN to excel.’
CEO of the South African Council of Educators (SACE), Ms Ella Mokgalane added: ‘Over half a million teachers in the country will benefit from her knowledge production emerging from her thesis. They will also draw lessons and best practices from it in terms of their school improvement initiatives.’