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Grappling with large classes : experience of educators, heads of department and principals in three rural schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

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The South African Education system has gone through much transformation and seen significant changes in the past decade in order to provide quality education and reformation. However, many under-resourced schools, such as rural schools, still face unacceptably high teacher-pupil ratios and large classes in their schools (Prinsloo, 2006). Rathogwa (2006) confirms that rural schools have been historically disadvantaged with limited resources and poor infrastructure. The purpose of this study is to investigate the perceptions and experiences of educators, Heads of department (HODs) and principals about how they coped with large classes. The study was conducted in three rural primary schools situated in the Inanda Area. The study adopts a qualitative research approach. Within this approach, a case study design was adopted. The data collection methods comprise of observations and semi-structured interviews with educators, HODs and principals. The overall findings of the research show that these schools are faced with a plethora of challenges because of their large classes. The findings show that large classes result in poor achievement levels, poor quality of work and disruptive behaviour amongst the learners. Furthermore the educators are faced with heavy workloads which increase teacher apathy, teacher stress and low teacher morale amongst the educators. The schools attempt many strategies as a means to overcome their challenges. Some schools employ the following strategies: they have a strict code of conduct; they reward appropriate behaviour; they counsel difficult learners, they engage in co-operative learning, they employ qualified staff members and engage in group work. From the data collected, principals motivate staff members by having weekly staff meetings to resolve their staff conflicts. Moreover some schools have more strategies than other schools.


Thesis (M.Ed.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2009.