The stories of change come from the field of practice – from classrooms, schools, and the district offices. They are told from the perspectives of those who are involved in and are experiencing changes in their daily work.

Professional learning communities

Ms. Priscilla Guliwe is a Circuit Manager from the King Cetshwayo School District. Her story of change is an interesting one, as she started off working as an external school coach to train SMT members on the various aspects of the Jika iMfundo Campaign. She then joined the department as a Circuit Manager, and, in this role, has been able to continue working on Jika iMfundo Campaign and training the SMT members of schools in her district.

Ms. Guliwe shares some of the important practices that she as a Circuit Manager has been engaged in, especially with her colleagues in the district and the SMTs of schools. She notes some of the important elements of her work. “… I am involved in promoting professional relationships, promoting collaboration, and connecting this to the work of Professional Learning Communities. I have also introduced the importance of planning and giving feedback. This was difficult, as most people focused on competing against each other rather than complementing each other. The challenge with planning is that it is sometimes just done on paper, and the plans are not implemented…”

Ms. Guliwe also uses monitoring tools to guide interactions with schools, and says that these help her to, “…Monitor, supervise, and support principals in solving problems related to the management of curriculum coverage …” She further notes that, “… each intervention within the school, as part of district support and in the province, is supported and reinforced upwards and downwards to change practices and establish new curriculum management routines.”

Ms. Guliwe lists a clear set of practices that the Jika iMfundfo Campaign introduces into the system, starting from what teachers are required to do and how this is supported at the levels of the school and district:

  • Teachers consistently plan, track and report on curriculum coverage and reflect on teaching and learning
  • Department Heads (DHs) regularly check teachers’ curriculum tracking and learners’ work, work with teachers to improve coverage, assist teachers with problems in relation to the curriculum coverage
  • Principals meet Department Heads (DHs) regularly to review the quality of coverage and tracking, take action to improve coverage, supervision the overall management of curriculum in the school
  • Circuit Managers engage with school to identify and solve key problem around the management of the curriculum coverage
  • Subject advisers train and support Department Heads (DHs) to supervise and support teachers in the curriculum coverage
  • District officials work across silos to ensure data driven problem-solving and provide support to schools. When all of this happens, curriculum coverage will improve, and this will lead to an improvement in learning outcomes.

She underscores the importance of capacity building and professional development in sustaining the work of change: “The purpose of professional development is to help the teacher acquire new knowledge and additional skills, and to be willing to demonstrate this by changing and improving practice in the classroom. The principal should encourage his/her staff to be lifelong students in order to improve job performance. Principals have the means of improving teacher quality, and one of the ways in which this can be done is by fostering a Professional Learning Community (PLC) in the school.”

“Professional (or Peer) Learning Communities are groups of teachers who come together in an organized manner and in a “safe space” to share and reflect on their practice of teaching and student learning; exchange knowledge, ideas and experiences; engage in problem solving; and provide support to each other – all of which contribute to the goal of strengthening and improving their teaching practice, and, ultimately, learning outcomes…”


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