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Challenges and Curriculum Transformation in the Higher Education Sector in South Africa: A Case Study in WASH to Improve the Training of Pharmacists

Abstract

Introduction: South Africa is a member state of the “BRICS” bloc (BRICS2017.org, 2017) and the G20 group of the 20 nations/economic blocs, which between them account for the majority of the world’s trade and economic activity. It faces many developmental challenges which are mirrored in its higher education sector. In this article, the authors seek to provide an overview of the challenges that South African higher education faces in the achievement of the developmental goals of the country. The focus of this paper is a case study in WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) to improve context-specific responses that trains pharmacists on knowledge and skills.

Methods: The study was performed as a combination of calculations and a literature review to obtain the background or current status of the higher education sector and developmental planning in South Africa. For this, data were extracted from the Statistics South Africa reports, relevant professional articles on South African higher education sector and results of postgraduate research. Workshop results which were obtained as a collaboration between a public and a private higher education institution and results of postgraduate research were used as the paradigm for transformation and decolonisation of the curriculum for a professional degree in South Africa.

Results and discussion: Challenges exist in the South African tertiary education sector and the graduation rate currently stands at 65.1% of the target set by the National Development Plan. Around 58.1% of all students do not complete their university/post-secondary education, which could provide a partial explanation for the skills shortage in South Africa. Decolonisation and transformation of the tertiary education curriculum are major topics in the discourse on higher education in South Africa. The authors propose that one way to achieve this would be inclusion of research results and group activities in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene as a topic for possible and partial transformation of the Bachelor of Pharmacy curriculum.

Conclusions: The current article summarises some of topics and challenges that drive the current discourse, developmental and curriculum debate in higher education in South Africa. Student access and through put at tertiary institutions need to be improved and the curriculum needs to be transformed.

Open access
Considerations on Intellectual and Academic Leadership of a Scholar in Higher Education: The Descriptive Literature Review

Abstract

Introduction: The search for solutions to the issue of leadership leads to hundreds of leadership studies, most of which are contradictory and inconclusive. The scientific literature on leadership in higher education is focused mainly on educational, academic, managerial or thought leadership. This literature provides the opinion that the intellectual leadership in higher education is directed towards building social and intellectual capital through a scholar’s involvement in decision-making and performance of leadership roles in ways that support the scholar’s collaborative decision-making and empowerment. Scholars see intellectual leadership as the scope of challenging processes, which incorporate ideas, values, understandings, solutions, beliefs, visions, knowledge, approaches, purpose and actions. These aspects must be accepted through collectively-shared understanding and generated contextually for organizational development in higher education. With growth in administrative demands, it becomes difficult for intellectual leaders to achieve an appropriate balance of leadership, teaching and research in higher education.

Purpose: To explore and describe the conceptual contents of intellectual leadership and academic leadership by providing their similarities and differences.

Methods: In the research, a descriptive literature review (Yang & Tate, 2012) was applied. The sample was mainly based on academic publications; the articles included are all refereed journal articles.

Conclusions: The literature review covered wide range of aspects, which reveal that intellectual leadership consists of roles that have several orientations, but the intellectual leadership is not related to the formal administrational or managerial positions. The roles of a scholar in relation to the concept of “intellectual leadership” maybe seen through the following activity spheres: mentor represents educational sphere, guardian – moral sphere, enabler – managerial and administrative spheres, and ambassador – political and communication sphere (Zydziunaite, 2016). The importance of personal characteristics and academic achievements in the formation of intellectual leaders’ reputation is also highlighted in the article. Despite the limitations of definitions on intellectual leadership it is argued that this concept is related to the organic personality of an intellectual leader (scholar) who acts as organizer of ideas, carries responsibility for academic development and direction in higher education.

Open access
Efficiency of Teaching Based on the Comparison of Textbooks

Abstract

Introduction: The paper’s introduction contains a set of notes concerning high-quality preparation of pupils and students and doing best to achieve adequate efficiency related to the educational process, where pupils’ or students’ personality development and activation together with their key-competence and self-cultivation development, as well as preparation for the labour market, successful versatility plays a role of great importance. The pupils’ or the students’ capability to work with information included in the natural language test is considered to be of a great importance for their further professional or private life. Therefore, any school is responsible for the quality of education and teachers should work with adequate and up-to-date, high quality teaching and learning aids.

Purpose: The purpose of the study was to monitor and verify the didactic efficiency of the proposed chapters for the Economics textbook at a technical secondary school in Hlohovec, as well as to check the quality of the proposed textbook in relation to the outputs of the educational process.

Methods: The following methods and techniques related to the investigation of a developed Economics textbook have been applied: natural pedagogic experiment; questionnaire; cloze test; didactic test and statistical methods for data processing.

Conclusions: The research has shown that the created textbook for Economics is appropriate for students. We believe that introducing newly developed textbooks/teaching materials into the teaching process (despite modern types of media) may contribute to improving the quality and efficiency of the educational process.

Open access
Grammar as an “Art of Lettes” in Foreign Language Teaching (A Study of Teaching English Verb Tenses in Lower and Upper Secondary Schools)

Abstract

Introduction: This paper focuses on the issue of teaching verb tenses in Slovak lower and upper secondary schools – in particular, on teaching three grammatical tenses (Present Simple, Present Continuous, and Simple Present Perfect) and the learner’s ability to use them. It also identifies the mistakes made by the learners in the research sample, causes of their mistakes, and suggests ways of eliminating these errors.

Methods: The paper presents the research data collected using quantitative (questionnaire and achievement test) and qualitative (lesson observation and semi-structured interview) methods. The data are analysed, compared, and conclusions for school practice are drawn.

Results: The main research findings show how the three tenses are taught, identify the impact of the ways they are taught on the ability of lower and upper secondary school learners to use them, and outline the errors they commit. The authors seek to explain the errors and suggest possible ways of eliminating them.

Discussion: The current study is compared to research data presented by Gadušová and Harťanská (2002), Hlava (2012) and Lojová (2016). All of them consider the practical application of grammatical functions significant in spontaneous and meaningful communication.

Limitations: Regarding the limitations of the research findings, the research sample of five interviewed teachers is too small either to make generalizations or to claim that the conducted research is fully reliable.

Conclusions: The research findings demonstrate that teaching the verb tenses in lower and upper secondary schools lacks sufficient contextualised communicative activities for practising the discussed grammar items.

Open access
Influence of Socially Disadvantaged Environment on Aggressiveness of Pupils at Primary Schools

Abstract

Introduction: The study deals with occurrence of aggressiveness of pupils from socially disadvantaged environment. It describes the socially disadvantaged environment and the level of aggression of pupils from such environments. The text describes the most important results of the research.

Methods: Within the research, a survey was carried out, monitoring the level of aggression of the majority pupils compared to the pupils from socially disadvantaged environment. The survey was carried out personally based on a monitoring scheme of aggression of the pupils from socially disadvantaged environment. The research has been made by direct observation within 60 teaching hours at the level of 1st and 4th grade.

Results: The findings, which we have acquired through observation, showed that the age and maturity of younger pupils’ organisms adapts to the model of social environment. Pupils from less stimulating social environments may become the victims of aggressive attacks in various forms more frequently. Types, forms and manifestations of aggression, equally subject to influence of the environment, in a school environment at the level of 10-year-old students are perceived as some form of entertainment. They join the attack on the victim for acceptance or they have the same preferences as the group. It often happens without consequences or attempts to eliminate these signs, because the seriousness of the attack is not ascribed.

Discussion: We were interested in the differences of aggression level of the majority pupils compared to the pupils from socially disadvantaged environment in the first and the fourth year of a primary school.

Limitations: The results apply only to students in the first level by using of the observation method.

Conclusions: As substantial and significant for pedagogic experience, we consider implementing the research findings as well on the higher level of pupils’ education and to define further correlations between aggressive behaviour and socially disadvantaged environment.

Open access
The Role of Education and Knowledge about Aging in Creating Young People’s Attitudes to the Elderly

Abstract

Introduction: With the intensive growth in the number of older people and prolonged life span in the contemporary postmodern society, it has become increasingly important to build positive intergenerational cooperation and promote education on aging and older people, especially between younger and older generations. That is why the authors, on the basis of empirical research and scientific literature, examined knowledge about aging among young people and the connection between knowledge about aging and the formation of negative attitudes towards older people.

Methods: The study involved 609 secondary school students aged 15 to 19 years.

Results: The survey results showed that only one-fifth of the young population has good knowledge about aging. The relationship between knowledge about aging and ageism is negative, which means that young people with less knowledge about aging often have a negative attitude towards older people.

Conclusions: Based on the obtained results, the authors underline the importance of integrating gerontology content in all stages of education.

Open access
The Application of Comics in Science Education

Abstract

Introduction: This study presents the results of a year-long project focused on analysis and reflection on working with comics by students in the preschool teacher training programme. Methods: This study presents the use of comics to help pre-literacy children understand certain physical phenomena. The study is based on observations of changing perception of phenomena by children as a result of the use of comics accompanied by concept maps. Results: Comics are proven to be a modern pedagogical strategy, which is starting to gain its popularity in teaching about nature study. It is used in research-oriented teaching within the psycho-didactic concept of instruction. Conclusions: Comics can be very helpful in making science concepts interesting and comprehensible for a preschool child.

Open access
Development of Interest in Reading on the Part of Students and Future Academics

Abstract

Introduction: Interest in reading and reader activities cannot be developed efficiently without deeper knowledge of the effects of relevant factors. Purpose: The aim of this paper is to provide information on the specifics of the creation of interest in reading in the course of future academics’ lives. Methods: This knowledge was obtained from second-year teacher students in the bachelor program at the University of Hradec Kralove by means of readers’ biographies and interviews. After six years, the investigation was repeated. Participants’ written records about their development of interest in reading were analysed, open-coded and category coded. Limitations: The results apply to only a sample of university-educated persons in the field of teaching. Conclusions: Realized experiences encourage interdisciplinary discourse and cooperation in deepening the knowledge about this topic and its follow-up application in teacher training at universities in all teaching specializations.

Open access
Education for Entrepreneurship – A Challenge for School Practice

Abstract

Introduction: Education for Entrepreneurship can be seen as one of the contemporary themes of current school and out-of-school education and has also become one of the priority topics of the European Union’s education policy. In this article, we focus on the definition of entrepreneurial education and the context of the terms liminality and in-betweenness that are closely related to entrepreneurship. In the theoretical part, we focus on broader context and complexity of entrepreneurial education and characterize the competence as a sense of initiative and entrepreneurship (Malach, 2008). All defined terms are related to the implementation of entrepreneurial education in the process of school education. Purpose: The aim of the article is to analyse the ways and methods of applying the main ideas of entrepreneurial education in school education. We concentrated on finding the context and characteristics of innovative methods and strategies through which the objectives of entrepreneurial education are achieved. Methods: To describe and understand the phenomenon of entrepreneurial education, the qualitative content analysis of the examples of good practices was used in this article. We developed codes in relation to the causes, conditions, opportunities and environment of entrepreneurial education. Conclusions: The aim was to determine the degree of implementation of entrepreneurial education/skills in the learning process in schools. By using the Content Analysis method, we determined the following questions: 1. What is entrepreneurial education? 2. What are the aims of education for entrepreneurship? 3. Why do we learn entrepreneurship? 4. Who and where teaches entrepreneurship? 5. How to learn entrepreneurship? Four main categories have been identified for the analysis of the complex concept of entrepreneurial education: Category 1: The roles of teachers and pupils in entrepreneurial education Category 2: Teaching methods and activities of pupils Category 3: The diversity of the aims of entrepreneurial education Category 4: Competences for entrepreneurship At the end of the article, we summarize the content analysis of the phenomenon of entrepreneurial education. There is a complexity of issues, goals, methods and social relationships that lead pupils/people to qualitative transmissions for/to create an excellent life. It involves preparing the pupil for practical everyday life, developing self-efficacy, self-confidence, independence, and support for critical thinking, flexibility, creativity, risk taking and problem-solving abilities. In addition, we provide an overview of inspirational methods and effective strategies used by entrepreneurs in entrepreneurial education. Given that entrepreneurial education is a comprehensive discipline, a sufficient team of people needs to be provided to put its ideas into practice. In this education, both the whole society and individuals such as teachers, social educators, parents, family, pupils/students, environment outside school, inside school/class find the place and purpose. The KEY TOPICS to turn ideas of entrepreneurial education into action are discussed in the conclusion of the article.

Open access
From the Theory of Play into the Practice in Kindergarten: Verification of the Original Didactic Toys for Preschool Children

Abstract

Introduction: This study deals with the phenomenon of play in the preschool environment. Based on establishing the links between theories and practice applicable in preschool conditions, the students from study programme of Preschool Teacher Training at Faculty of Humanities at Tomas Bata University in Zlín created a set of original didactic toys for preschool children. The main objective of the study was to verify this set in kindergartens and to find out how teachers perceive play and how they work with toys in preschools. The study also focused on preschool children´s view of play and toys. Methods: We have chosen a qualitative research design to explore the research problem and to answer the research questions. The data collection in this research was based on participant observation and interviews with the participants who were preschool children and their teachers from four selected kindergartens in Zlín Region in the Czech Republic. These were 12 teachers with secondary or university education (Bc. degree), aged 23 to 48, with a length of practice from 1 year to 25 years at the position of kindergarten teacher. The research study then included interviews and video recordings of 77 preschool children (age 2 to 6 years). Results: Data gathered by a qualitative research with preschool children in the kindergarten environment represent a partial picture on the importance of toys and playing with them. The results emerging from the observation and interviewing the preschool children and their teachers shows the way of toy selection with the importance of variability of possible modifications of the toys offered to children in the preschool environment. The progress of play with the verified didactic toys was influenced by the need for a partner in the play, the role of the teacher, the chances to freely discover the elements of toys. We found a restrictive perspective expressed by the participating preschool teachers about the dominant influence on selected toys in kindergarten environment. Discussion: The findings suggest that it is not prospective to focus solely on the toy itself. In agreement with Pyle and Bigelow (2015), it is possible to monitor the impact of playing on the development of children's social, emotional and educational skills. Based on the observation and interviews with both children and teachers, we have come to the view that it is increasingly important to support the didactic thinking of preschool teachers. We also considered the issue in the sense of feedback for authors of the toys and for future preschool teachers. Child-based research opens up the opportunity to interpret and analyse their own childhood perspective reflected in their own social worlds, emphasizing the complexity of understanding their experiences through the eyes of adults. Limitations: We consider important to point out certain limits of the presented research, given the circumstances that a sample of 15 classrooms observed in the total number of 4 kindergartens cannot bring results to be presented for wider generalizability. The intentional choice of toys for preschool children could also belong to the possible limits of this research. Conclusions: Children do not choose a toy for the purpose of conscious development of fine motor skills or with the aim to strengthen their social relationships with other children. Children just play. And they can play with toys similar to the original products made by students and verified in this research. Choosing toys and activities suitable for preschool children can also be a challenge for experienced teachers.

Open access