Original Research

Curriculum implementation challenges and responses during the COVID-19 pandemic in a rural secondary school in South Africa

Tholakele C. Dlamini, Free-Queen B. Zulu
African Journal of Career Development | Vol 6, No 1 | a73 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajcd.v6i1.73 | © 2024 Tholakele C. Dlamini, Free-Queen B. Zulu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 February 2023 | Published: 08 April 2024

About the author(s)

Tholakele C. Dlamini, Department of Teacher Development Studies, School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Free-Queen B. Zulu, Department of Teacher Development Studies, School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic posed unprecedented challenges for curriculum implementation in schools globally, but little is known about how teachers responded to these challenges in a rural school context.

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to explore the curriculum implementation challenges and responses during the COVID-19 pandemic in a rural secondary school in South Africa.

Method: The study used semi-structured interviews and document analysis to generate data.

Results: The study established that COVID-19 highlighted pre-existing challenges such as lack of infrastructure, internet connectivity, learner-teacher support material and poor learner attendance and participation. These challenges exacerbated school closures, which created curriculum gaps leading to the prioritisation of certain topics and assessment tasks. Findings also revealed that teachers struggled with the necessary teaching strategies, as they were not trained to teach during a pandemic. In response to curriculum implementation challenges, the school in question installed Wi-Fi using the money allocation from the Department of Education, which enabled teachers to access programmes developed in other provinces and new teaching strategies used by other teachers. The findings highlighted that teachers engaged in team teaching and shared resources with teachers from neighbouring schools and the subject advisors.

Conclusion: The findings show that responses to the curriculum implementation challenges could be addressed through innovation and agency in rural schools. Therefore, curriculum implementation in South African rural schools requires the joint efforts of all stakeholders.

Contribution: This study provides insights into how teachers can be supported with skills and resources to negotiate, interpret and reconstruct their teaching practices to deal with curriculum implementation dilemmas in a rural school context.


Keywords

COVID-19 pandemic; challenges; rural school; teachers; curriculum.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education

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