Motivated teachers help schools perform better

Underperforming schools can perform better if principals and teachers are motivated to bring about the necessary changes.

This was the view of Professor Jan Heystek of the Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University (SU) in his inaugural lecture in SU’s CG Cillié Building on Tuesday (25 October).

According to Heystek, principals must motivate teachers to work hard to accomplish achievable standards and to develop themselves.

“Principals must lead or manage their schools and motivate teachers and learners to achieve the required academic results. They must ensure that teachers develop new skills, knowledge, attitudes and values which will lead to successful change.”

Proff Magda Fourie Malherbe, Vice-rector: Teaching, Jan Heystek and Waghid Yusef, Dean of the Faculty of Education, at the inaugural lecture. (Photo: Justin Alberts)

Heystek said it is important for principals to be motivated in order to encourage teachers and learners to change the current situation in education.

“Principals, teachers and learners must have the desire to improve the pass rate of their schools instead of an external agreement forced upon them.”

He referred to a proposed performance contract, known as the Education Measurement System that principals in the Western Cape will have to sign.

Heystek is of the view that performance agreements can serve as a form of motivation and should not be seen as a threat. They can help principals to focus and structure their work.

However, it remains questionable whether such agreements will have the desired effect, said Heystek.

“A new attitude, commitment and work ethic are required to help improve underperforming schools.”

A specific policy alone does not guarantee any change or development, Heystek argued.

He said the different circumstances of schools must be considered, and principals must have sufficient support to stay motivated for longer.