The Potential Of Open Education Resources To Boost High School Education In South Africa's Kwazulu-Natal Province

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Alex van der Merwe

Keywords

Education, Open Education, Open Education Resources

Abstract

Many South African high schools are under-performing with poor pass rates, particularly in mathematics and physical science. Although the countrys state of education would seem to be dire, pockets of excellence thrive in many local schools. Given this available expertise, a free and open education resource (OER) base adapted to local conditions and the necessary will, it may be possible to grow vibrant local open education communities and thus promote more equitable access to better quality education. This descriptive study sought to examine the attitudes of a sample of South African high school teachers towards OERs with the aim of gauging their willingness and capacity to use and/or develop these materials within an open economic model/framework.

The study established that, in spite of respondents' recognition of the potential advantages of OERs, and even some significant reported use of these instructional tools, there appear to be serious doubts as to the level of institutional support for such open education initiatives. This is unfortunate since teachers appear to be sympathetic to the philosophy of open education and are prepared to donate regular time and effort to the business of developing these resources. The study concludes that policy, at both school and departmental levels, should be sharply realigned to embrace and actively promote the development and more widespread use of open resources. Only then is the economics of open education likely to be unleashed on a transformative scale.

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