Teachers learn to make data work for them

Ms Ronel Jansen van Vuuren from Laerskool Malelane, Mr Emmanual Sibanda from Data Driven Districts, Ms Zandile Tshuma from Maghuba Combined School and Mr Samuel Khoza from Penreach.

KAMHLUSHWA – Working through heaps of paperwork is rarely a joy, especially if you add anxious parents and overactive kids to the mix.

These stresses can be lightened somewhat for school admin staff, principals and department heads with the South African School Administration Management System (SA-Sams) and the Data Driven Districts (DDD) Dashboard.

SA-Sams helps schools capture and collate data electronically, and covers everything from general school information and standard letters and forms to curriculum-related data.

Key educational data can then be viewed on the dashboard and easily analysed to enable both the school and the Department of Education to make informed decisions about what kind of support the school needs.

This includes essential information about individual teacher and pupil attendance, as well as learner performance.

Mss Nonkululeko Mbombi from Sifundzehaya Primary, Jabulile Thwala from Bukhosibetfu Primary, (back) Thabile Mongwe and Zandile Nkosi from Maghuba Combined School.

As part of the Penreach Courageous Leadership Development Programme, representatives of 24 schools in the Malelane and Khulangwane circuits learned how to use the DDD Dashboard effectively during training at Elangeni Lodge on March 16.

READ: Penreach invests in school principals

Admin staff, principals and heads of departments (HODs) critically analysed their schools’ data in groups and discussed problems like overcrowding and bad performance by classes, as well as possible solutions and how they could be implemented.

One of the biggest problems at most of the schools, was that teachers were teaching subjects they were not trained for or had not been on refresher courses for in years.

Penreach Change agent, Mr Samuel Khoza, said the aim of the system is to communicate better between schools and government on various levels.

It was developed and is maintained by the Department of Basic Education, which ensures that it is regularly updated. It is supplied and updated free of charge to all schools, with no licence fees involved.

Khoza says more schools are now aware of the programme, which was launched in 2011, and principals are excited about it.

One of the presenters, Mr Emmanual Sibanda of DDD, stated that “great minds think alike” and that they and Penreach partnered to give schools the tools they need to improve their results.

Mr Magnificent Ndhlovu from Mr Penreach, Ms Nelisiwe Madlane and Mr Mduduzi Sambo from the Department of Education.

Since the PCLDP’s roll-out phase, which started in July last year, the 24 principals, 24 deputy principals and 72 HODs who are a part of the programme, have been coached and mentored on a wide range of skills and knowledge necessary for effective school management and leadership.

They have proved very willing and enthusiastic, and during school visits, the change agents saw positive changes as a result of the knowledge they gleaned.

READ: Schools improving thanks to innovative leadership programme

The goals of the programme are to improve learner performance by 20 per cent by 2020 and to reduce both grade-repetition and school drop-out rates by 60 per cent.

For more information on the projects, visit www.eddashboard.co.za, www.sasams.co.za or visit the Penreach Facebook page.

Retha Nel

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