Biology teachers’ lived experiences of the Namibian Senior Secondary Certificate (NSSC) curriculum
Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2016
ENGLISH ABSTRACT : This study was conducted in order to explore the lived experiences of Grade 11 and 12 Biology teachers on the implementation of Namibian Senior Secondary Certificate (NSSC) Biology curriculum. The research design of this study is characterised by its qualitative, exploratory, contextual and descriptive nature. A qualitative method was adopted for this study because it helped the researcher to create a holistic picture of the phenomenon within the context in which it occurs. Since this study seeks to understand the lived experience of teachers, an interpretive paradigm was adopted. The study employs a phenomenological epistemology according to which the researcher examined records and interpreted lived experiences through clear and detailed descriptions. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect qualitative data from five NSSC Biology teachers from three high schools in the Erongo region of Namibia. Data constructed through semi-structured interviews were analysed by means of thematic analysis. The research findings revealed that the implementation of the NSSC Biology curriculum is influenced by social and contextual factors. It was noted during the study that education-related decisions by officials at all levels of government were being influenced by a variety of factors. For example, the pressure created by global competitiveness heightened the public’s economic concerns and in particular those of business leaders. Hence, influential leaders who view education as the key to a stronger economic future have promoted new accountability initiatives and provided incentives to stimulate improvements in schools. Similarly, corporations and their representatives have become involved in influencing education policy at local, state and federal levels in their pursuit of employees who possess skills and knowledge needed by a productive workforce. Furthermore, education-related decisions of officeholders and other policy makers are also influenced by media that convey information and shape public perceptions. The latest news stories and editorials focusing on the lack of textbooks and laboratory facilities in rural and township Namibian schools may heighten public awareness of inequities in the country’s education system. Similarly, media coverage of learners’ achievement scores informs and influences communities’ views on the quality of education in the country. The study further revealed that lack of training and support, poor assessment policy guidelines, language policy, workload and frequent curriculum changes are some of the challenges teachers are experiencing in the implementation of NSSC Biology curriculum. The research findings revealed that teachers in the Erongo region of Namibia received little or no training at all after the implementation of NSSC Biology curriculum in 2006. Those who attended the training sessions argued that the training was inadequate and could not prepare them to implement the NSSC Biology curriculum effectively. The research findings revealed the need for aligning both teachers’ pre-service and in-service training programmes with national curriculum policies to enable better alignment between the current educational programmes for teachers and the focused training required for successful curriculum implementation. Furthermore, the research findings revealed that lack of support from subject advisors and heads of departments caused confusion among teachers on how to implement the NSSC Biology curriculum effectively. The study revealed that the only support Biology teachers get from the subject advisors and heads of departments are the provision of curriculum documents such as the syllabi and scheme of work. It was also noted that the support Biology teachers get from the regional office is limited to mini-workshops and subject meetings. Data constructed in this study further revealed that NSSC Biology teachers in the Erongo region of Namibia are over-burdened. Participants expressed their stress as a result of the workload associated with the NSSC Biology curriculum. The research finding revealed that, unlike with International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and its variant the Higher International General Certificate (HIGCSE) curriculum, teachers using NSSC curriculum are expected to do planning and marking, create teaching aids, evaluate lessons, attend to extramural activities and offer counselling to learners with social problems, although they are not professional counsellors. Finally, the research findings revealed that teachers in the Erongo region experience a lack of teaching resources because of the uneven distribution of resources among high schools in region.
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