In this edition of the newsletter, SACAI would like to celebrate women in education. Women have contributed substantially to education for many years. From early child development to teaching, lecturing, and leading pivotal research in many disciplines promoting advancements in the development of humanity and its habitants.
I am proud to celebrate Women’s month being part of a team with committed and competent women who have led to the growth of SACAI and its vital contribution to the education sector of our country. SACAI is proud to have its Chairperson Ms Louise Lemmer offering guidance and oversight to SACAI’s existence and the implementation of the organisational strategy towards the goal of achieving full accreditation with Umalusi and continuously support institutions and candidates within the distance education space. She also assists SACAI with the promotion of adult literacy for those previously disadvantaged.
SACAI is currently supported by women in many spheres within its structures. The recent merger between SACAI and Benchmark Assessment Agency created a unified SACAI with two divisions (the National Senior Certificate and Adult Basic Education and Training divisions) led by Ms Karen de Waal and Ms Chipo Chibaya respectively.
It is also encouraging to see women supporting each other and this is seen by the number of women contracted by SACAI in both divisions.
Moreover; I would like to announce the recent appointment of Ms Jackie Carroll to SACAI’s Council. Ms Carroll has been earmarked to provide strategic vision in support of adult literacy offered by the ABET division of SACAI.
In conclusion, as SACAI further expands, institutions registered with SACAI are encouraged to provide feedback on how the assessment body can improve. We recently sent out a survey and would like to thank everyone that participated. The feedback was very positive and encouraging. If you were not able to complete the survey please send your comments and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
I will be looking forward to your constructive feedback.
PS: Take a look at our fun female staff members below!
Standing left to right: Emily Moloi, Corné Kriek, Jorandi Scholtz, Chipo Chibaya, Busisiwe Sibanda and Ronel Smart.
Sitting left to right: Nthabiseng Manyarela, Karen de Waal, Connie Khumalo and Lerato Banda.
Louise could be called the first lady of education in South Africa. She was the first female to become a school principal of a co-ed high school on the South Coast. The first female Chairperson on the Board of SACAI. She was the first woman in the history of SAOU (Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysunie) to be elected as their Provincial Chairperson and the first woman elected as Deputy President of SAOU.
Her motto in life is “Life has no remote – get up and change it yourself, there is no better time than now.”
We are celebrating women’s month in August and SACAI asked her opinion regarding women in education.
Women have made huge strides in education, but they still face many challenges.
Equality and stereotyping of women in education are still fickle. Although the Government has joined the equality campaign to achieve gender equality, there is still a long way to go. There is still the belief that women are inferior to men and that they should not occupy management and leadership roles. Women occupy lower positions in the workplace. There is a perception that women are not able to handle stress as well as their male counterparts and the boardroom or school principals’ chair belongs to men. More than 70% of educators in SA are women. However, that is not reflected in leadership roles in education in SA. Stereotyping has caused a lot of harm and pain amongst women in education. The potential of so many great women has been undermined.
Education and training play a huge role in addressing the issue of marginalisation of women in the workplace and there is most definitely some changes that have taken place. However, there is still work to be done in this regard.
Louise has a passion for young people and finds it extremely rewarding to work with them. According to her, she has had the privilege to do what she loves most for the past 41 years.
She also loves spending quality time with family and friends. She has two stunning grandchildren and they know how to keep her busy. She also enjoys travelling and visiting different places. Cape Town and all the wine farms have a huge attraction for her.
She truly believes in the following words of Nelson Mandela: “It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm worker can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”
SACAI (in collaboration with Prof. Rita Niemann)
SACAI serves as assessment body for learners in the post-compulsory schooling phase. The largest proportion of those learners receive their education by means of distance education. Irrespective of the fact that distance learning is exploding globally, very little research has been conducted and published on distance education in the schooling phase in South Africa.
The term distance education is used, and not online or e-learning, or any of its variants, as it has become the term used in South Africa as an alternative for traditional schooling in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase. This research on distance education was framed as being a mode of learning delivery where the teachers/facilitators and the learners from a specific education provider are in different places without constant contact.
Distance education in the post-compulsory schooling phase is not explicitly stipulated in the South African legislation, but the latest Policy on Home Education (DBE, 2018), and the draft BELA Bill (DBE, 2017) stipulate that a learner receiving education at home (not in a school) during the non-compulsory schooling phase “must register with an education provider registered with an assessment body (such as SACAI) responsible for the conduct of the final National Senior Certificate examination”. This reference to an alternative mode of education in the post-compulsory schooling phase is regarded as the inception of acknowledging the role of the distance education sector in the provision of education in South Africa.
The research included a study of numerous other developing countries where distance education forms part of the national education system. South Africa clearly lags behind in terms of the global trends when it comes to the recognition of distance education in the schooling phase, and therefore, this research also identified the major challenges experienced in this sector. The major challenges identified by the distance education providers in South Africa, were related to the
SACAI needed to gain insight into distance education both nationally and internationally to be able to make recommendations to stakeholders and policymakers in optimising the distance education sector to the benefit of education in South Africa.
Prof Rita shared her views on women in education with us. She also assisted SACAI with their research on “Interrogating distance education to out-of-school learners in the post-compulsory schooling phase in South Africa: a national and international perspective” *
* Please read the summary also in this edition of the newsletter.
SACAI asked her about women being stereotyped in education.
Prof Rita states that stereotyping exists on all levels of society, but she believes that women in leadership are one of the most targeted areas. In the education sector, one can merely view the low percentage of women in headships in comparison with the percentage of women teachers. Globally about two-thirds of teachers are women.
Stereotypes can be dangerous as it perpetuates inequality and hold girls back from reaching top positions.
How can we change some of the biggest challenges women in education face today?
Education has a major role to play in combating stereotyping and inequality. Some examples of how education can bring about change over the next few years are:
What is your definition of feminism?
I see myself as a feminist. This in itself is a courageous statement to make, as women who pronounce to be feminists are stereotyped and associated with the radical feminist movement of the 1960s. While the feminists of the 21st century are women standing up for gender inequalities.
Acknowledging Mary Wollstonecraft
There are a large number of achievements by women, but Prof Rita would want to pay tribute to Mary Wollstonecraft (born in 1759), who is regarded as one of the first feminists when she advocated for education for girls. She opened the first girls’ school in 1784 (Newington Academy for Girls in London). How girls are educated impacts how they live their lives.
“Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” – Unknown.