Stemming from BIC’s commitment to improve learning conditions for students worldwide, and its continued contribution to education in South Africa, the company conducted a nation-wide study which aimed to identify the key challenges and opportunities faced by educators in the country. The study aimed to collate challenges faced by teachers in South Africa to consequently provide solutions that would help them perform in the important role that they play in children’s lives, and to help contribute towards enhancing the education field in the country.
The study was conducted by BIC, in partnership with Big Mama’s Famous Truth Shop, a private research studies laboratory focused on human research techniques.
The study revealed three main findings that were consistent for teachers across South Africa:
- Teachers play multiple roles in a child’s life.
- Teachers in South Africa are hungry for higher quality curricula and thought-provoking content.
- Teachers are expected to perform many additional duties that erode the time they could be dedicating to children, and they are quite simply overloaded.
Study findings at depth
The multi-role teacher:
Education is a fundamental driver of personal, national, and global development, making teachers arguably the greatest influencers in society. They give children purpose, set them up for success, and inspire in them a drive to do well and succeed in life.
According to the study conducted, good teachers are passionate about the children they teach, and describe fulfilment as being able to truly connect and unlock children’s diverse potential.
The study found that South African teachers all shared the same overwhelming sentiments of quite simply being overloaded and under-valued. They often play the role of social worker as well as fill up the gap created by parents. Insights revealed that parents are a source of pressure with their demands and expectations, while often leaving a void as they are too busy or ill-equipped to give their children the quality of attention they need today.
Lack of resources:
The study revealed that the gulf between “have and have not” kids is widening, and the pandemic has shone a spotlight on inequality and inefficiency in the state education system. The difference in resources, numbers of children per teacher, and even basic stationery needs in state schools is alarming. Semi-funded (Q5) schools also struggle with resources given the numbers they are expected to cope with.
The current state Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) and educational resources, considered to be bland and uninspiring, is felt to deepen the divide further where teachers end up picking up the pressure of bringing it to life and building lessons with higher quality content, using classroom tools like posters and print media, to inspire and stimulate the minds of the children they teach.
The study found that teachers are hungry for higher quality, brighter and more engaging teaching tools and resources. They are self-taught content creators, who are persistent in overcoming the many challenges that they are faced with. They continuously seek out inspirational platforms with useful worksheets, inspiring videos, and ways of making their lessons more engaging and exciting.
Teaching in a pandemic:
The Covid-19 pandemic has added fuel to the pressure cooker in so many ways. Teachers are the unsung heroes of this time as many have worked right through lockdowns, adapting, learning new technologies and developing remote learning content. According to the study, lockdown has forced teachers to move to digital teaching methods overnight. The study also revealed that mobile data is still the biggest divide as it’s expensive in South Africa.
Teachers have shared the sentiment that online learning has been a huge challenge with schools being behind technologically which resulted in a lack of preparation for the ‘new situation’. Teachers have had to get far more creative, and the need to keep up the marks, despite the massive data and technological divide, was a major source of stress. For the most part, teachers were following the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) but adding to it to ensure efficient and creative learning techniques.
Teachers faced challenges when returning to schools, where they have had to deal with the challenges of teaching and policing social distancing and other hygiene protocols at the same time as alleviating learner’s anxiety.
According to the study, going back to school after the lockdown has resulted in stress amongst children due to all the rules and fears associated with the COVID-19 virus. They will be obliged to wear masks, and no one can touch or hug. It will take kids a long time before they get out of their shell and get their personalities back amidst huge groups of people.
The study also revealed positive findings, as the pandemic and lockdown has allowed teachers to work together more than ever before. This was mostly a result of accelerated personal growth and skills development. Similarly, the smaller classroom sizes allowed for more individual attention.
To help address some of the teachers’ needs identified in the study, BIC has launched a BIC Stationery Teachers Group on Facebook, which is accessible to all teachers and educators across South Africa, where they will be able to communicate, ideate, share experiences and best practices, as well as exchange tools and resources.
Commenting on the occasion, Kutlwano Tshetlhane, Marketing Manager for BIC Stationery, Southern Africa, said: “We are ecstatic about offering the new platform, BIC® Stationery Teachers Group, to help teachers across the country to start their journey towards more efficient and innovative teaching techniques, learning from and supporting one another. As a brand that is committed to improving education in communities we operate in, we are proud to support teachers across South Africa through a platform that would provide them with the tools and the inspiration they need to help build the future’s generation.”
Expressing her delight, Wendy Cochrane, Big Mama’s founder, said: “Our mission for the study was to understand teachers’ diverse perspectives on challenges in a post-covid education system, and to identify opportunities where BIC can offer solutions. The need for high quality, locally relevant content and teaching materials for South African teachers is clear, highlighting the inequality gap between state and private schools that have more access to internet-based resources. This research helped generate ideas for the development of a practical and exciting digital resources platform that bridges these divides.”
BIC has always been a dominant player in supporting the youth and contributing towards the education field in communities it operates in. Education is part of BIC’s DNA and the company has long advocated for and worked to improve lives through education. Through BIC’s initiative, ‘Writing the Future Together’, the company is committed to supporting communities and improving the learning conditions of 250 million children globally by 2025. To date, BIC South Africa has played an instrumental role in the classroom and beyond, with its range of stationery products, including crayons and other coloring tools, Tipp-Ex, highlighters, pencils and pens of all descriptions.
Teachers are invited to take another step in the ongoing journey of elevating education and improving learning conditions for students in South Africa by joining the community here.