Schooling Reform is Possible Lessons for South Africa from International Experience

"International experiences of schooling reform are varied, but a number of common factors emerged from the presentations. Schooling reform is difficult. And yet, with the right leadership and approach, education systems can make significant gains from almost any starting point. Measurable improvement can be achieved in as little as six years. Success requires a sustained focus on key variables. While minimum levels of funding and resources are essential, funds and resources are not enough in themselves to transform a schooling system. Many countries spend more money but achieve too little; other countries have less to spend and outperform those with bigger budgets.The quality of teaching and teachers is a central determinant of student performance. Teacher quality cannot be reduced to formal qualifications, which often have little impact on student results. School leadership, notably by principals, plays a key role, especially in motivating teachers and creating a culture of learning. Sustained schooling reform requires a new approach to the teaching profession. Society needs to value the importance of teachers more highly, and teachers need to see themselves as professionals and behave accordingly. Incentive-based pay is essential."