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Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Literacy research enhances teacher capacity

LITERACY GURU: Prof Janet Condy, Research Chair in Literacy Development, is one of the female academics who are at the apex of spearheading CPUT’s research efforts.    LITERACY GURU: Prof Janet Condy, Research Chair in Literacy Development, is one of the female academics who are at the apex of spearheading CPUT’s research efforts.

The Research Chair in Literacy Development at CPUT, which is housed in the Faculty of Education, introduces teachers and lecturers to transformative literacy pedagogical approaches, focussing on developing higher order thinking skills and later assesses their impact in teaching and learning.

The Chair was established in 2016 when Prof Rajendra Chetty was appointed at the helm but was replaced by, Prof Janet Condy, to complete the term up to 2021 after he resigned in 2018. 

Condy explains how the research conducted in her Unit differs from typical research and intersects with the Focus Area: Human, Health, and Social Dynamics.

“Since I am introducing, through intervention programmes, innovative teaching pedagogies and approaches to lecturing staff across the university,” she says. “My idea is to track the lecturers’ use of these transformative strategies and how they impact on their own teaching and learning and those of their students.” 

“Before Covid-19 I planned to work with two teacher unions – National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa and South African Democratic Teachers Union – and offer intervention programmes focussing on teaching higher order critical thinking pedagogies in their classrooms across all subjects and grades.” Condy believes the SA schooling system narrowly promotes rote learning and this severely limits our tertiary students’ higher cognitive functions.

The founder of the sixteen-year-old Literacy Association of South Africa and the manager of the accredited Reading & Writing Journal, adds that this approach to teaching is based on the Active Teaching and Learning Approaches in Schools programmes she has conducted around the world for the International Literacy Association.

Condy’s motivation stems from her deep-rooted passion for providing a socially-just, decolonised educational space where everyone’s voice matters. “What lights my fire is delving deep into my pedagogical approaches and techniques and finding creative and innovative ways of working with every learner or student; developing student-led pedagogies.”

The C2 National Research Fund-rated researcher truly believes that all students can learn and that it is a matter of finding innovative ways to connect with them and allow them to manage their own learning opportunities.

This is her 23rd year as a staffer in the Faculty of Education. “The most memorable milestone and highlight of my academic journey at CPUT, was my inaugural speech in April 2019 when I was promoted to Full Professor.  This was the most amazing, humbling experience of my life and I would like to sincerely thank CPUT for the extravagant way in which they celebrated this occasion.”

Reflecting on her teaching experience of 40 years, she says sheer hard work and determination got her to where she is. Condy adds that she spent many hours reading, writing and re-writing, making mistakes and trying again and again, but never gave up.

“I kept my focus on the end goal – which was to lead a literacy research team!”

*For the duration of Women’s Month, we will be profiling several high profile CPUT women whose achievements and activities help us to become One SMART CPUT.

Written by Kwanele Butana

Email: butanak@cput.ac.za