An excited Ms Ntombiningi Mbele graduated cum laude with her Master’s in Education from UKZN for her research that focused on how district officials in the form of subject advisors and circuit managers enhance accountability for primary schools’ performance. The study was conducted in one education district in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
‘My study was premised on the notion that enhancing accountability is key in the attainment of basic quality education for all. Given the enormous financial investment that the South African government is currently committing towards basic education, it’s a glaring expectation that such an investment should yield favourable returns for the state and the nation at large,’ said Mbele.
Her study suggests that accountability is perceived as a reciprocal process involving schools and district officials.
‘District officials implement various measures to enhance accountability for primary schools’ performance. Such measures include inter alia, organising continuous professional development programmes for teachers, conducting random school visits, moderation of school-based assessment, and analysing learners’ quarterly results,’ she said.
Mbele found that district officials’ endeavors to strengthen accountability for primary schools’ performance is crippled by a multitude of factors, either from the system, district or school level. These factors are the prioritisation of Grade 12 over other grades, lack of standardised assessment in the General Education and Training (GET) band, insufficient district personnel in the form of subject advisors with the ratio of 1:345, influence of teacher unions, as well as the geographic location of some schools which at certain times makes it impossible to access them.
Mbele juggled her studies with full time employment in the midst of COVID-19. ‘I am extremely delighted with the results that I have obtained,’ she said.
She also thanked her family, friends and supervisor, Professor Phumlani Myende, for being her support system. ‘Prof Myende’s diligent support, guidance and motivation made it possible for me to produce the work that I have. He believed in me from the onset of the journey and throughout which propelled me to work harder. Working with him has been a great honour.’