Mr Sylvester Mbatha is ecstatic to have graduated with his Master’s degree in Education for research that explored collaborative learning of senior phase Mathematics teachers in a 1 + 9 Mathematics cluster in the Maphumulo circuit.
Supervised by Dr Jaqueline Naidoo, the findings of Mbatha’s study were that senior phase Mathematics teachers enhanced their teaching and learning through collaboration in the 1 + 9 Mathematics cluster. This was mainly due to Mathematics teachers sharing effective teaching strategies, resources and expertise and discussing learners’ misconceptions of key concepts.
Teachers also shared innovative ways to motivate learners and develop positive attitudes towards Mathematics. In addition, the study found that teachers enhanced their content and pedagogical content knowledge by setting and moderating common assessment tasks and completing these tasks as tests. Furthermore, the study found that collaboration and commitment of teachers contributed to the cluster serving as an effective Professional Learning Community (PLC).
In 2005, Mbatha’s learning journey commenced at UKZN when the KZN Department of Education offered bursaries for underqualified teachers to study towards the National Professional Diploma in Education (NPDE). He selected Mathematics as a major in the Senior Phase and graduated in April 2007. Armed with another DoE bursary, Mbatha registered for an Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) in Mathematical Literacy at UKZN, graduating in 2009.
In 2011, he was appointed as a Head of Department at a combined primary school. Due to the high failure rate in Physical Science and Mathematics at the time, he responded to the DoE’s call for interested teachers to apply for a bursary towards an ACE in Physical Science and Mathematics. He graduated with his second ACE in Physical Science in April 2012.
Being part of the School Management Team (SMT) motivated Mbatha to register in 2013 for the Bachelor of Education Honours specialising in Education, Leadership, Management and Policy (ELMP) at UKZN. He graduated with his BEd (Hons) ELMP degree in 2015.
As a Head of Department, Mbatha acknowledges the lack of professional development programmes to assist and support teachers with content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. This motivated him to register for a Master’s in Education in 2016 specialising in Teacher Development Studies. He adds that the degree ‘was very demanding and required time, dedication and hard work’.
Dr Naidoo commented on how proud she was of Mbatha’s achievement and his learning journey. She hoped that his inspiring story of perseverance, commitment and dedication would motivate other students to study further. Mbatha shared his motto, ‘Let the passion that is within you rise to meet your destiny.’