Challenges and opportunities in the implementation of the foundations for learning with special reference to the literacy learning programme in disadvantaged contexts.
This study explores Foundation Phase (FP) teachers’ experiences of the implementation of the Foundations for Learning (FFL) (South Africa Government Gazette, No 30990 2008) in the Literacy Learning Programme (LLP) (2008). FFL is the new curriculum policy for FP that consists of Numeracy and Literacy Learning programmes. This policy was introduced to address the challenges teachers had with the previous curriculum policy, Outcome-Based Education (OBE) and the National Curriculum Statement (NCS). The aim of this study is to find out how FP teachers experience the implementation of the FFL. This is a qualitative study located within the interpretive paradigm. Informants were purposively selected from two primary schools located in a rural and a township area in KwaZulu-Natal. Eight FP teachers teaching grades R-3 participated in two focus group interviews. To generate data from these informants, semi-structured interviews, observations and documentary analyses were used as instruments. Findings reveal that teachers had to make changes to their teaching approach as a result of the implementation of the FFL and they experienced feelings of being swamped by all the changes that seemed to be too much to understand. Teachers reported difficulties in understanding and accepting new processes, procedures and expectations associated with educational changes. It is clear that it is impossible to successfully implement change in an education system if serious investments are not made in the professional development of teachers (Hargreaves, 2003). Without sufficient, training, guidance and mentoring in the implementation of the FFL in the LLP, teachers feel de-motivated and anxious as they do not understand the FFL document and thus feel threatened by the way they taught in the past. Teachers fail to understand the requirements set out in the FFL document because the prescriptions are too vague. The study recommends a closer relationship with the Department of Education (DoE) for guidance, regular monitoring, mentoring, workshops and training to be conducted by the DoE. In addition, experienced and perhaps competent FP educators, lecturers and non-governmental organizations, e.g. Read Educational Trust could assist in the implementing strategies to ensure effective implementation of the FFL campaign in the LLP. The implications of the findings from this research should be useful to educators, curriculum development specialists, textbook writers and teacher trainers to gain a better understanding of the needs, understandings, challenges and opportunities teachers experience in the implementation of the FFL in the LLP.
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