Continued support transforms underperforming schools

With the right kind of support on a regular basis, underperforming schools can turn themselves around and make massive changes, said Mr David Langhan, Research Director at Maskew Millar Longman Education Trust, on Wednesday (26 October). He was the speaker at the fifth conversation of Stellenbosch University (SU)’s School Partnership Project.

The series of six conversations looks at how collaboration between the different faculties can improve SU’s interaction with schools.

Langhan pointed out how the School Development and Support Project of his Foundation helped 16 underperforming schools in isolated areas in four provinces (Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape) to perform better.

Limited curriculum coverage, a narrow range of learning opportunities and few textbooks in classrooms are some of the problems these schools face, he said.

Mr David Langhan speaks at the fifth conversation. (Photo: Joanne Williams)

“It is, however, surprising that, despite the bad infrastructure, these schools are not interested in money, but want to be respected and treated as equal partners.”

Langhan mentioned that teachers work courageously under difficult circumstances to change the situation at their schools.

“Continued support helped teachers to use the learning material correctly, and to understand what they supposed to do. Learners are writing more often and their literacy and numeracy skills improved.”

Teachers are now facilitating and learners participating, said Langhan.

Organisation at the schools improved and existing facilities were revitalised and used again.

Langham is of the view that support for schools should focus on teamwork, coaching and mentoring. This can help underperforming schools to be successful.

  • The next conversation will take place in November. For more information, contact Rolene Liebenberg, Manager: Schools Partnership Project, at or 021 808 9142.