Fezeka Secondary School, Guguletu Township. Photo: teachandlearn

 

A Teachers and Social Cohesion Roundtable, organised by the Centre for International Teacher Education (CITE) of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and the IJR, was hosted at  IJR offices on Thursday, 19 October 2017.  The event included speakers and participants from CPUT, universities, teachers’ unions, NGOs and other civil society, policy-makers, various academics and independent researchers, the national Department of Basic Education as well as Lucretia Arendse; Education For Reconciliation Project Leader at IJR.

The Roundtable presented research analysing how teachers in different contexts are governed, managed, recruited, trained and supported to promote quality learning in different classrooms. The geographic focus of the study in SA was the Western and Eastern Cape. Prof Yusuf Sayed (CPUT, University of Sussex) was the principal investigator leading a dynamic team as director of CITE. Sayed is a SARCHi Research Chair in Teacher Education. The study, Engaging teachers in peace-building in post-conflict contexts: Evaluating Education interventions in South Africa, Pakistan & Rwanda was funded by UNICEF and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-Department for International Development (DFID) Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research. It is a research collaboration between CITE and the UK-based universities of Sussex and Bristol, University of Rwanda, SA’s Department of Basic Education and UNICEF

The  main  finding  suggests  that  social inequality  and  poverty  remains  the  key  driver  of  conflict  in  post-1994 South Africa. Teachers’ agency is therefore fundamentally constrained. The study identified a number of elements within education policy interventions that have enabled teachers to become active agents of social cohesion in South Africa, and that may inform future interventions.  It also identified  many conditions  under  which  education  interventions focused  on  teachers  promoted social  cohesion and  mitigated and  reduced conflict  and  violence. The  end  goal  was to  identify  measures  and  processes  that  increased the  effectiveness  of  such interventions in difficult situations and contexts.

The vigorous discussion was held on four sub-themes: Initial teacher education and continuing professional development, National school curriculum and textbooks, Teacher governance, and Teacher pedagogy.

, Below are some interesting quotes and comments from the discussion:

“The school is a place of hope, you need to build up an integrated approach to social cohesion.”

“We need to think about addressing the issues of discrimination, gender and homophobia and violence in union programmes.”

“There are bridges to be built between young people, but also between adults and schools – all school should be places where they feel they belong.”

“Adults are reluctant to explore things that are deeply uncomfortable and deeply hurtful, othering children.”

Participant engagement was high. IJR, as hosts, livestreamed parts of the event via Facebook and live-tweeted under CITE’s #teacher4peace.

Definitions and understandings of social cohesion from a politics spectrum were explored, as well as the location, nationally, of social cohesion within the Department of Arts & Culture portfolio, and not, for example, in the Department of Basic Education. Prof Sayed concluded the Roundtable by teasing out the need to‘re-appropriate’ social cohesion:  link with video

Ayesha Fakie is the Head of the Sustained Dialogue Programme at IJR