Learning in rural areas

How can rural areas develop learning capacities? This is the theme NAI guest researcher Dipane Hlalele from South Africa will study.

One way is by preparing teachers for living and working in the countryside. It is difficult to recruit teachers for rural areas, and when they do come they don’t stay for long.

− During training, teachers should regularly visit villages to understand the different reality. Another option is allowances. However, this is not optimal, because then the teachers won’t be there wholeheartedly, but only for economic reasons, states Dipane Hlalele.
Moreover, classes in rural areas are often big and have a great age variation. Therefore, instead of specialising in one subject, teachers should have the skills needed to teach different groups at the same time.

Learning is not only about teaching – it is also about functioning infrastructure. Too often, communities aren’t involved in decision-making.
− For instance, some schools in the Eastern Cape were destroyed by tornados. If villagers were    asked, they would explain that tornados are likely every year. The same goes for flooding: during the rainy season pupils can’t get to school because of the swollen rivers. Everyone living there knows it’s always like that, says Dipane Hlalele.

Another problem is the abandonment of rural areas. Even though people realise it is difficult to get work in the cities, many take their chances and leave after graduation. For some, education is an escape from the village.

− We must encourage students to go back to the rural areas and contribute with what they have learned. They must develop awareness that their knowledge is of great importance to the community. Of course, that requires job opportunities. In South Africa today, there is a quite clear perception of the need, but still there is no specific plan to address the deficiencies, Dipane Hlalele notes.

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