Research Journey a Humbling Experience for Dr Mxenge
A desire to experience and gain a better understanding of how teachers learn when they are together in education department clusters motivated Dr Ntombi Mxenge, who graduated with a PhD in Education degree, for her research into teacher development.
‘I discovered that the clusters are the more common structures used by the Department of Education to improve pass percentages; that one needs to understand what the problem is (from the end user) before coming up with the answer for the problem, and that you don’t make claims without supporting evidence,’ said Mxenge.
‘Research humbles you, in the sense that you don’t make sweeping statements before questioning the credibility of what you are saying.’
She believes her research will provide some responses on why the quality of education seems to be compromised.
Significant findings include discovering that clusters are not necessarily an alternative professional development model; teachers are not taking charge of their development and that teacher development translates into improved pass rates.
Mxenge plans to use her study to assist in improving strategies for teacher development. ‘This will be possible if I work at a level where I decide on the content and approach of teacher development, encouraging teachers to take the lead. I can introduce this at a small scale and then spread to other areas.’
She thanked family and friends for their support saying: ‘They have a special place in my heart for always believing in me.’
Mxenge’s younger brother Vivi is both proud and inspired by her. ‘Ntombi is and always will be a huge inspiration to the entire Mxenge family. She has earned this and may she grow from strength to strength.’
Her sister Didi was equally thrilled at her success saying, ‘Congratulations to Ntombi for fulfilling her dreams of attaining a PhD. She did not give up even when faced with many challenges. I appreciate that she chose a topic that is close to her heart. Education is the cornerstone of the success of our nation.’
Mxenge is the niece of struggle stalwarts Victoria and Griffiths Mxenge.
Words: Melissa Mungroo
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan