ILE is an international study that focusses on innovative ways of organizing learning for young people and influencing the 21st century education-reform agenda. Along with four other country teams, the South African ILE team – comprising MIET Africa, representatives from the KZNDoE and the Department of Basic Education – is participating as “learning laboratories of change” (LLC). The LLC is about growing and sustaining innovative learning environments through transforming teaching and learning environments.
The South African LLC is located in a group of primary schools in the Umlazi District, where MIET Africa is implementing a “barriers to learning” programme that focuses on strengthening schools and their communities to identify learners with barriers, and finding ways to assist them. Significant strides have been made in getting these schools and their communities working in partnership to form a supportive network – acting as a “village that raises the child” – that works collaboratively to eliminate barriers to learning experienced by children. But the LLC also focuses on transforming teaching and learning by capacitating teachers to use learner-centred teaching, so that learners can take greater responsibility for their own learning. Teachers of Mathematics in the three Umlazi LLC schools have been participating in a content enhancement programme as part of their development in transforming teaching and learning.
The South African country team attended the ILE coordinators’ meeting and conference, “Leading to Learn”, held in Barcelona, Spain, from 3 to 5 December. They joined approximately 500 other delegates from countries as far afield as Peru and New Zealand. The conference hosted discussions on themes such as Learning for the 21st century and the Role of leadership transforming education.
The South African DBE country team representative, Claude Tshimanika, participated in a panel discussion on South Africa’s LLC, describing the return to traditional values that foster collaborative learning, during which he highlighted the importance of returning to the principles embodied in Ubuntu in building “learning communities”. MIET Africa’s Lynn van der Elst facilitated the session on educational leadership, which focused on the importance of developing 21st century leadership skills underpinned by life-long learning.