A McKinsey report, named, “How the best performing school systems come out on top”, highlighted three common characteristics of these schools:
- Getting the right people to become teachers
- Developing them into effective teachers
- Ensuring the system is available to deliver the best possible instruction for every child.
While all three of the above characteristics are important to transform education, the first step is to identify the right young people to become teachers. Some of the traits that these young people display would be:
- A passion and desire to work with children
- Excellent academic achievements
- Humility, integrity and willingness to learn
- Willingnes to collaborate and work hard
- Willingness to make a difference in other people’s lives
At schools, teachers have the vantage point to identify young people with these characteristics and to inspire and groom them from a young age to become teachers. Teachers are role models and demonstrate their love for children and teaching through their conduct and interactions with children. This is the best advertisement for the teaching profession and attracts young people to teaching. This is exactly what we hope to achieve at our school.
We plant the idea of becoming a teacher firmly in the minds of those students who have been identified. Through formal and informal discussions the details of how to realize this are revealed. The plan is that students will do a distance-learning course through the University of South Africa (UNISA). For the duration of their studies they are placed as interns at functioning schools with a mentor teacher for each intern, ensuring continuing development. They will learn and experience all aspects of teaching, in and outside the classroom. After this intensive period of training, they will be highly effective teachers.
The McKinsey report stated that students who are placed with high-performing teachers, progress three times as fast as students who are placed with low-performing teachers. If every school can produce one such high-performing teacher per year, education in South Africa will be transformed for the better.