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IJLTER.ORG Vol 21 No 2 February 2022

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The development of the literature on teacher leadership in the academic realm has been exponential, but the quest for more leadership knowledge seems to be inexhaustible. The purpose of this paper is to analyze teachers’ perceptions with respect to their leadership abilities. Email interviews were conducted with nine teachers from two primary and two secondary schools to obtain their views regarding teacher leadership, whilst affording them opportunities to make suggestions for collaborative teacher leadership development. Having employed a phenomenological approach and thematic analysis as method, this paper proposes a collaborative teacher leadership development framework (CTLDF). Significant about the CTLDF is that teacher leaders should consider ausgang as a way of opening the door for collaboration, homo economicus as a collaborative act and parrhesia as autonomy towards collaborative teacher leadership. The findings reveal that teacher leaders should cultivate a readiness to create opportunities for collaborative leadership development. The study recommends that teacher leaders should first have to be cognizant about their own individual strengths, whilst slowly starting initiatives to collaborate in order to sustain improvements in teacher leadership practices.

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International Journal
of
Learning, Teaching
And
Educational Research
p-ISSN:
1694-2493
e-ISSN:
1694-2116
IJLTER.ORG
Vol.21 No.2
International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research
(IJLTER)
Vol. 21, No. 2 (February 2022)
Print version: 1694-2493
Online version: 1694-2116
IJLTER
International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research (IJLTER)
Vol. 21, No. 2
This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part
of the material is concerned, specifically those of translation, reprinting, re-use of illustrations,
broadcasting, reproduction by photocopying machines or similar means, and storage in data banks.
Society for Research and Knowledge Management
International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research
The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational
Research is a peer-reviewed open-access journal which has been
established for the dissemination of state-of-the-art knowledge in the
fields of learning, teaching and educational research.
Aims and Objectives
The main objective of this journal is to provide a platform for educators,
teachers, trainers, academicians, scientists and researchers from over the
world to present the results of their research activities in the following
fields: innovative methodologies in learning, teaching and assessment;
multimedia in digital learning; e-learning; m-learning; e-education;
knowledge management; infrastructure support for online learning;
virtual learning environments; open education; ICT and education;
digital classrooms; blended learning; social networks and education; e-
tutoring: learning management systems; educational portals, classroom
management issues, educational case studies, etc.
Indexing and Abstracting
The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational
Research is indexed in Scopus since 2018. The Journal is also indexed in
Google Scholar and CNKI. All articles published in IJLTER are assigned
a unique DOI number.
Foreword
We are very happy to publish this issue of the International Journal of
Learning, Teaching and Educational Research.
The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational
Research is a peer-reviewed open-access journal committed to
publishing high-quality articles in the field of education. Submissions
may include full-length articles, case studies and innovative solutions to
problems faced by students, educators and directors of educational
organisations. To learn more about this journal, please visit the website
http://www.ijlter.org.
We are grateful to the editor-in-chief, members of the Editorial Board
and the reviewers for accepting only high quality articles in this issue.
We seize this opportunity to thank them for their great collaboration.
The Editorial Board is composed of renowned people from across the
world. Each paper is reviewed by at least two blind reviewers.
We will endeavour to ensure the reputation and quality of this journal
with this issue.
Editors of the February 2022 Issue
VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 February 2022
Table of Contents
Teachers’ Perceptions about Leadership: Towards an Innovative Collaborative Teacher Leadership Development
Framework for Schools ..........................................................................................................................................................1
Edwin Darrell De Klerk, Natalie Jane Pauline Smith
Adopting Virtual Classes during the COVID-19 Lockdown: Interrogating New Approaches to Teaching and the
Exclusion of Learners in Rural Settings ............................................................................................................................. 18
Raphael Nhongo, Liqhwa Siziba
Effects of a Neuroscience-Based Instructional Guide on College Student Learning ................................................... 34
Rosario Mireya Romero Parra, Luis Andres Barboza Arenas, Lorena C. Espina-Romero, Eduardo Jesús Garcés Rosendo,
Carlos Hernán Rodríguez Ángeles
Employee Perceptions of the Effectiveness of E-training to Meet Performance Evaluation Requirements ............. 49
Areej M. Altwijri, Tahani I. Aldosemani
Analysis of the English Language Needs of the Saudi Tourism Workforce: A First Step into Designing ESP
Teaching Materials................................................................................................................................................................ 72
Eidhah Abdullah AbdulRaheem Al-Malki, Choudhary Zahid Javid, Muhammad Umar Farooq, Ghazi Fahad Algethami,
Adel Awadh Al-Harthi
Entry Requirements as Predictors of the Academic Performance of Postgraduate Students in Universities in
Zimbabwe.............................................................................................................................................................................. 89
Norman Rudhumbu, Patience Kelebogile Mudau
Effects of Concept Mapping and Cooperative Mastery Learning Strategies on Students’ Achievement in
Photosynthesis and Attitudes towards Instructional Strategies................................................................................... 107
Emmanuel Bizimana, Dieudonné Mutangana, Adrian Mwesigye
Determinants of Quality Education Delivery in Selected Public Universities in Ghana: Students’ Perceptions... 133
Anthony Akwesi Owusu
Rural STEM Preservice Teachers’ Acceptance of Virtual Learning.............................................................................. 155
David Mutambara, Admire Chibisa
The Experiences of Emergency-Remote Teaching Via Zoom: The Case of Natural-Science Teachers Handling of
Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Learners in South Africa........................................................................................................... 176
Olufemi Timothy Adigun
State University Students’ Learning Locations and Remote Learning Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic
............................................................................................................................................................................................... 195
Cristie Ann L. Jaca
Does Student Involvement in Practical Learning Strengthen Deeper Learning Competencies? ............................. 211
Agus Prianto, Umi Nur Qomariyah, Firman Firman
Filipino Teachers’ Attitudes towards Distance Learning during the Covid-19 Pandemic ....................................... 232
Angelito Palma Bautista Jr., Dianne Morta Balibrea, Doris Gelvoligaya Bleza
Influence of E-Counseling Skills on Counseling Self-Efficacy Among E-Counselors in Malaysia .......................... 251
Zaida Nor Zainudin, Lee Wei Rong, Alia Sarah Asri, Yusni Mohamad Yusop, Nor Aniza Ahmad, Siti Aishah Hassan
Perception on the Online Classes Challenges Experienced during the COVID-19 Pandemic by LSPU Computer
Studies Students.................................................................................................................................................................. 268
Marco Jr. N. Del Rosario, Ronnel A. dela Cruz
Educators’ Motivation and Intention within the UTAUT Model to Adopt the Flipped Classroom: A Scoping
Review.................................................................................................................................................................................. 285
Rusliza Yahaya, Mohamad Rohieszan Ramdan, Noor Lela Ahmad, Rosmini Ismail, Khalizul Khalid, Mohd Abdullah Jusoh,
Rosmah Mat Isa
Pre- and In-service Teachers’ Self-Efficacy Beliefs: A Case Study of an English Language Teacher Education
Programme in Albania....................................................................................................................................................... 303
Enriketa Sogutlu
Factors Influencing Elementary Teachers’ Readiness in Delivering Sex Education amidst Covid-19 pandemic.. 320
Nhung T.P. Nguyen, An T.T. Chu, Ly H. Tran, Son X. Pham, Hien N. Nguyen, Vinh T. Nguyen
Improving Critical Thinking Skills in Teaching through Problem-Based Learning for Students: A Scoping Review
............................................................................................................................................................................................... 342
Azila Abdul Razak, Mohamad Rohieszan Ramdan, Nurhanie Mahjom, Mohd Nazir Md. Zabit, Fidlizan Muhammad, Mohd
Yahya Mohd Hussin, Nor Liza Abdullah
User Acceptance of Google Classroom-Assisted Learning: The Case of Malaysian Form Six Economics Students
............................................................................................................................................................................................... 363
Noornadiah Md. Sari, Khoo Yin Yin, Zainizam Zakariya, Ramlee Ismail
Exploring the Influence of Teacher-Student Interaction Strength, Interaction Time, Interaction Distance and
Interaction Content on International Student Satisfaction with Online Courses ....................................................... 380
Xiaozhuan Wang, Aminuddin Bin Hassan, How Shwu Pyng, Han Ye
Centralize or Decentralize? - The Question Currently Facing Schools in Qatar......................................................... 397
Al-Kubaisi Huda
Mathematics Teachers’ Perceptions of Soft Skills Integration in Mathematics Teaching and Learning in Secondary
Schools in Mazabuka District, Zambia............................................................................................................................. 419
Chileshe Busaka, Septimi Reuben Kitta, Odette Umugiraneza

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IJLTER.ORG Vol 21 No 2 February 2022

  • 1. International Journal of Learning, Teaching And Educational Research p-ISSN: 1694-2493 e-ISSN: 1694-2116 IJLTER.ORG Vol.21 No.2
  • 2. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research (IJLTER) Vol. 21, No. 2 (February 2022) Print version: 1694-2493 Online version: 1694-2116 IJLTER International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research (IJLTER) Vol. 21, No. 2 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically those of translation, reprinting, re-use of illustrations, broadcasting, reproduction by photocopying machines or similar means, and storage in data banks. Society for Research and Knowledge Management
  • 3. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research is a peer-reviewed open-access journal which has been established for the dissemination of state-of-the-art knowledge in the fields of learning, teaching and educational research. Aims and Objectives The main objective of this journal is to provide a platform for educators, teachers, trainers, academicians, scientists and researchers from over the world to present the results of their research activities in the following fields: innovative methodologies in learning, teaching and assessment; multimedia in digital learning; e-learning; m-learning; e-education; knowledge management; infrastructure support for online learning; virtual learning environments; open education; ICT and education; digital classrooms; blended learning; social networks and education; e- tutoring: learning management systems; educational portals, classroom management issues, educational case studies, etc. Indexing and Abstracting The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research is indexed in Scopus since 2018. The Journal is also indexed in Google Scholar and CNKI. All articles published in IJLTER are assigned a unique DOI number.
  • 4. Foreword We are very happy to publish this issue of the International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research. The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research is a peer-reviewed open-access journal committed to publishing high-quality articles in the field of education. Submissions may include full-length articles, case studies and innovative solutions to problems faced by students, educators and directors of educational organisations. To learn more about this journal, please visit the website http://www.ijlter.org. We are grateful to the editor-in-chief, members of the Editorial Board and the reviewers for accepting only high quality articles in this issue. We seize this opportunity to thank them for their great collaboration. The Editorial Board is composed of renowned people from across the world. Each paper is reviewed by at least two blind reviewers. We will endeavour to ensure the reputation and quality of this journal with this issue. Editors of the February 2022 Issue
  • 5. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 February 2022 Table of Contents Teachers’ Perceptions about Leadership: Towards an Innovative Collaborative Teacher Leadership Development Framework for Schools ..........................................................................................................................................................1 Edwin Darrell De Klerk, Natalie Jane Pauline Smith Adopting Virtual Classes during the COVID-19 Lockdown: Interrogating New Approaches to Teaching and the Exclusion of Learners in Rural Settings ............................................................................................................................. 18 Raphael Nhongo, Liqhwa Siziba Effects of a Neuroscience-Based Instructional Guide on College Student Learning ................................................... 34 Rosario Mireya Romero Parra, Luis Andres Barboza Arenas, Lorena C. Espina-Romero, Eduardo Jesús Garcés Rosendo, Carlos Hernán Rodríguez Ángeles Employee Perceptions of the Effectiveness of E-training to Meet Performance Evaluation Requirements ............. 49 Areej M. Altwijri, Tahani I. Aldosemani Analysis of the English Language Needs of the Saudi Tourism Workforce: A First Step into Designing ESP Teaching Materials................................................................................................................................................................ 72 Eidhah Abdullah AbdulRaheem Al-Malki, Choudhary Zahid Javid, Muhammad Umar Farooq, Ghazi Fahad Algethami, Adel Awadh Al-Harthi Entry Requirements as Predictors of the Academic Performance of Postgraduate Students in Universities in Zimbabwe.............................................................................................................................................................................. 89 Norman Rudhumbu, Patience Kelebogile Mudau Effects of Concept Mapping and Cooperative Mastery Learning Strategies on Students’ Achievement in Photosynthesis and Attitudes towards Instructional Strategies................................................................................... 107 Emmanuel Bizimana, Dieudonné Mutangana, Adrian Mwesigye Determinants of Quality Education Delivery in Selected Public Universities in Ghana: Students’ Perceptions... 133 Anthony Akwesi Owusu Rural STEM Preservice Teachers’ Acceptance of Virtual Learning.............................................................................. 155 David Mutambara, Admire Chibisa The Experiences of Emergency-Remote Teaching Via Zoom: The Case of Natural-Science Teachers Handling of Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Learners in South Africa........................................................................................................... 176 Olufemi Timothy Adigun State University Students’ Learning Locations and Remote Learning Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 195 Cristie Ann L. Jaca Does Student Involvement in Practical Learning Strengthen Deeper Learning Competencies? ............................. 211 Agus Prianto, Umi Nur Qomariyah, Firman Firman
  • 6. Filipino Teachers’ Attitudes towards Distance Learning during the Covid-19 Pandemic ....................................... 232 Angelito Palma Bautista Jr., Dianne Morta Balibrea, Doris Gelvoligaya Bleza Influence of E-Counseling Skills on Counseling Self-Efficacy Among E-Counselors in Malaysia .......................... 251 Zaida Nor Zainudin, Lee Wei Rong, Alia Sarah Asri, Yusni Mohamad Yusop, Nor Aniza Ahmad, Siti Aishah Hassan Perception on the Online Classes Challenges Experienced during the COVID-19 Pandemic by LSPU Computer Studies Students.................................................................................................................................................................. 268 Marco Jr. N. Del Rosario, Ronnel A. dela Cruz Educators’ Motivation and Intention within the UTAUT Model to Adopt the Flipped Classroom: A Scoping Review.................................................................................................................................................................................. 285 Rusliza Yahaya, Mohamad Rohieszan Ramdan, Noor Lela Ahmad, Rosmini Ismail, Khalizul Khalid, Mohd Abdullah Jusoh, Rosmah Mat Isa Pre- and In-service Teachers’ Self-Efficacy Beliefs: A Case Study of an English Language Teacher Education Programme in Albania....................................................................................................................................................... 303 Enriketa Sogutlu Factors Influencing Elementary Teachers’ Readiness in Delivering Sex Education amidst Covid-19 pandemic.. 320 Nhung T.P. Nguyen, An T.T. Chu, Ly H. Tran, Son X. Pham, Hien N. Nguyen, Vinh T. Nguyen Improving Critical Thinking Skills in Teaching through Problem-Based Learning for Students: A Scoping Review ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 342 Azila Abdul Razak, Mohamad Rohieszan Ramdan, Nurhanie Mahjom, Mohd Nazir Md. Zabit, Fidlizan Muhammad, Mohd Yahya Mohd Hussin, Nor Liza Abdullah User Acceptance of Google Classroom-Assisted Learning: The Case of Malaysian Form Six Economics Students ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 363 Noornadiah Md. Sari, Khoo Yin Yin, Zainizam Zakariya, Ramlee Ismail Exploring the Influence of Teacher-Student Interaction Strength, Interaction Time, Interaction Distance and Interaction Content on International Student Satisfaction with Online Courses ....................................................... 380 Xiaozhuan Wang, Aminuddin Bin Hassan, How Shwu Pyng, Han Ye Centralize or Decentralize? - The Question Currently Facing Schools in Qatar......................................................... 397 Al-Kubaisi Huda Mathematics Teachers’ Perceptions of Soft Skills Integration in Mathematics Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools in Mazabuka District, Zambia............................................................................................................................. 419 Chileshe Busaka, Septimi Reuben Kitta, Odette Umugiraneza
  • 7. 1 ©Authors This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 1-17, February 2022 https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.21.2.1 Received Nov 1, 2021; Revised Jan 28, 2022; Accepted Feb 14, 2022 Teachers’ Perceptions about Leadership: Towards an Innovative Collaborative Teacher Leadership Development Framework for Schools Edwin Darrell De Klerk* Sol Plaatje University, Kimberley, South Africa Natalie Jane Pauline Smith Sol Plaatje University, Kimberley, South Africa Abstract. The development of the literature on teacher leadership in the academic realm has been exponential, but the quest for more leadership knowledge seems to be inexhaustible. The purpose of this paper is to analyze teachers’ perceptions with respect to their leadership abilities. Email interviews were conducted with nine teachers from two primary and two secondary schools to obtain their views regarding teacher leadership, whilst affording them opportunities to make suggestions for collaborative teacher leadership development. Having employed a phenomenological approach and thematic analysis as method, this paper proposes a collaborative teacher leadership development framework (CTLDF). Significant about the CTLDF is that teacher leaders should consider ausgang as a way of opening the door for collaboration, homo economicus as a collaborative act and parrhesia as autonomy towards collaborative teacher leadership. The findings reveal that teacher leaders should cultivate a readiness to create opportunities for collaborative leadership development. The study recommends that teacher leaders should first have to be cognizant about their own individual strengths, whilst slowly starting initiatives to collaborate in order to sustain improvements in teacher leadership practices. Keywords: ausgang; collaborative teacher leadership; homo economicus; parrhesia; teacher leaders 1. Introduction Whilst many teachers live with idealistic imperatives to “be one’s own person and to give expression to one’s individual philosophy” (Case et al., 2011, p. 686), the COVID-19 pandemic has required teacher leaders to seize opportunities to * Corresponding author: Edwin Darrell de Klerk, darrell.deklerk@nwu.ac.za
  • 8. 2 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter perform their day-to-day work more skillfully. Importantly, the perception of leadership has become so significant that it is nearly impossible to study the past and the present without seeing leaders and leadership everywhere. Thus, although much research has been conducted regarding leadership development, COVID-19 has required a change in the way individuals speak or write about teacher leadership - from one subjugated interpretation of leadership toward a deeper understanding of concepts thereof. In this paper, the focus has shifted from meanings about leadership to that of teacher leadership development because we believe that schools should be “poised to help teachers to be the beacon of light” (Behrstock-Sherratt et al., 2020, p. 1). The shift of focus is significant because teachers should “be empowered to be actors of change” (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2020, pp. 3–4) during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the current crisis has created opportunities to uplift teacher leaders, whilst celebrating and recognizing the extraordinary leadership teachers are exhibiting. Beyond the dispositions, skills and knowledge exemplified by teacher leaders, they should epitomize a movement-in-action to promote the teaching occupation into a respected profession. The indication of “movement-in action” can be associated with a view by Zhang et al. (2021) who postulate that to develop teachers’ leadership skills, thought and time should be invested to follow a collaborative approach. The aforementioned statement is significant because collaborative leadership advances through the practice of influencing teachers and engendering proficiency through collaboration (Zhang et al., 2021). In their dissertation on teacher leadership development, Gratacós et al. (2021) aimed to develop an understanding of teacher leadership as portrayed in official documents in Spain. The appraisal of those documents exposed an inadequate appreciation of the significance of teacher leadership. Their results suggested that there is a need to further develop teacher leaders as a consequence of changing circumstances experienced by the teaching profession. In another paper, Mitchell (2021) focused on developing teacher leadership during unprecedented times of change. The aim of Mitchell’s (2021) paper was to acquire more information regarding the development and growth of teacher leaders in Kansas during the 2020–2021 COVID-19 pandemic. The findings revealed that during times like COVID-19, increased opportunities exist for teacher leadership development. The paper recommended that leadership development should be versed in learning styles that foster collaboration in an attempt to grow teachers’ collective efficacy (Mitchell, 2021). Apart from research that focused on teacher leadership, we regard it as significant to provide a synopsis of a few teacher leadership development frameworks already in the public domain (Table 1).
  • 9. 3 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Table 1: Teacher Leadership Development Frameworks in the Public Domain Author(s) Year of publication Teacher leadership development framework Core aspects of teacher leadership development framework Angelle 2017 Four-factor model of teacher leadership The role of teachers outside the classroom, expertise and roles in instructional practices, independence/enablement, collaboration as well as participation and engagement Cheung et al. 2018 Defining teacher leadership: A framework Collaboration, encouragement, modelling and availability of resources Berg & Zoellick 2019 Teacher leadership: toward a new conceptual framework Legitimacy, support, objective and method The aforementioned frameworks aimed at addressing ambiguities in meaning regarding teacher leadership, whilst advocating for more knowledge in this field. Our paper adheres to the call for further research on teacher leadership development in unprecedented times like the COVID-19 pandemic. It is similar to the aforementioned studies in that the notion of collaboration in terms of teacher leadership development is strongly foregrounded. It is different in that we are drawing on the views of South African teachers in four schools in the Northern Cape province of South Africa to propose a collaborative teacher leadership development framework (CTLDF). By analyzing the views of teachers, we “share the stories and voices of everyday teachers who take a social justice stance and act on it” (Baker-Doyle, 2017, p. 8). In so doing, a CTLDF may assist teacher leaders to keep track of changes and developments regarding teacher leadership in schools. 2. Literature Review 2.1 Changing the mind-set about teacher leadership development amid COVID-19 Individuals construct their social reality in ways that reflect and reinforce their mind-sets (Gergen, 2015), and the mindfulness of such potential can be an influential power for developing their sense of fulfilment (McGonigal, 2015). Notably, mind-sets are core sets of beliefs that become the lenses through which individuals appreciate, understand, and reply to the world within which they live and work (Gergen, 2015). The more individuals see the world as an opportunity to develop, the more they seem to find opportunities for development to happen. This implies that the more schools allow for a mind-set change regarding teacher leadership, the more teachers would develop capacities for personal growth, which is an important contributor to leadership development. Furthermore, the notion of teacher leadership development suggests that teachers may become more aware of who they are and how they can be showing up at work in a more authentic way (Drago-Severson & Blum-DeStefano, 2018). Thus, as teacher
  • 10. 4 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter leaders gain more confidence, they can start to shift the lens toward their colleagues and provide encouragement and support for them as they engage in collective growth in schools. COVID-19 has required teachers to change their taken-for-granted frames of reference (mind-sets). Significant about a change regarding frames of reference is that teacher leaders are required to become “more inclusive, discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change, and reflective so that they may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more true or justified to guide action” (Mezirow, 2000, p. 8). To illustrate, COVID-19 has opened opportunities for “teachers to be trained how to lead with self-awareness and self-regulation”, “schools to allow teachers to lead changes” and “teachers to give meaning to changes through descriptions, feelings and expectations” (De Klerk & Smith, 2021, p. 62). Interpreting the view of De Klerk and Smith (2021, p. 62), teacher leadership development should be thought of as a process of empowering teachers to achieve what they believe is worth achieving and what they want to achieve in future. Consequently, teacher leadership development should be understood to be at the center of changing “values into actions, visions into realities, obstacles into innovations, separateness into solidarity, and risks into rewards” (Smith & Riley, 2012, p. 57). In this regard, teacher leadership development should be about teachers getting opportunities to live their potential and worth so that they can see leadership in themselves, whilst unleashing such potential in those around them. 2.2 Collaborative teacher leadership as transformative learning experience One of the main elements for successful collaborative action in teacher development is that there should be a demonstration of intellectual and emotional ripeness, aiming at a mind-set change to allow teachers to become more eager to deal with and to solve challenges in schools (Vicente et al., 2018). Arguably, collaborative intellectual efforts in terms of teacher leadership may be considered as a mutual knowledge practice in which all teachers are involved in combining thinking about leadership in an inventive way. This implies that collaborative teacher leadership has an unlimited possibility to yield collaborative affiliations where individuals share challenges and opportunities and, in so doing, ease the responsibility of teachers to attain enhanced leadership performance (Pasetto et al., 2021). Despite unlimited possibilities, collaborative teacher leadership development seems not to be without any challenges. Firstly, teacher leadership has yet to take an official position in schools’ administration because teacher leaders’ unclear standing may encourage skepticism on the part of colleagues, thus encumbering collaboration (Johnson, 2019). Secondly, teacher leaders may experience hostility from their colleagues and the aspiration for additional and profounder collaboration could be perceived negatively by their colleagues (Landa & Donaldson, 2020). Notwithstanding these limitations, COVID-19 has brought new opportunities to rethink collaborative teacher leadership. Our argument resonates
  • 11. 5 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter with the thought that “teacher leadership recognizes teachers’ instructional expertise as an asset for educational improvement, capitalizes upon teachers’ relationships with their colleagues to support change, and may provide career advancement opportunities to improve job satisfaction and the professionalization of teaching” (Berg et al., 2019, p. 3). Based on Berg et al.’s (2019) assertion, more opportunities for collaborative teacher leadership development may be a worthwhile transformative learning experience in schools. To ensure that teacher leadership development becomes a transformative learning experience, “a high degree of trust will be needed, as the collective glue, to ensure that issues are addressed collectively as they arise” (Harris & Jones, 2020, p. 246). This statement implies that teacher leaders, when working collaboratively, should first transform problematic mind-sets (expectations and assumptions) about leadership by making it more emotional, thoughtful and open to change. Thus, in an endeavor to make collaboration worthwhile, teacher leaders should consider assessing their assumptions, exploring options for new roles, action and relationships as well as finding transformative ways to nurture new roles and relationships (Mezirow, 2011). In this instance, teacher leaders should guard against superficial collaboration by deliberately making an effort to understand their roles and how they project themselves to others. Arguably, transformative learning in terms of collaborative teacher leadership should be an organized effort to assist colleagues to enhance their dispositions, understanding and skills (Mezirow, 2012) as to what the role of teacher leaders should be. In so doing, collaborative teacher leadership may encourage individuals to become more autonomous, creative, self-reflective and inclusive. 2.3 Reasons for rethinking collaborative teacher leadership amid COVID-19 The potential and possibility of teacher leadership are regarded as a fundamental matter within the global dialogue about educational change and reform because the manner in which teachers contribute to transformation, and dynamically contribute towards leading transformation, has been demonstrated to be significant to the attainment of any development effort. In this regard, COVID-19 has required that in order to lead change, there should be a move from working in silos and new emphasis should be placed on working collaboratively in schools (Education Development Trust, 2020a). We, like Harris and Jones (2019, p. 125), argue that teacher leaders who work collaboratively are individuals who will do “amazing things; they will initiate, innovate, implement and share a wide range of projects which can develop collaborative professional learning, improve practice and support student learning.” When teacher leaders are thus afforded opportunities to move out of their comfort zones, they may be positioned to think differently, whilst reimagining what a more equitable, resilient and effective school environment might look like. Furthermore, it has become imperative to investigate how leadership is presently developing, whilst it has become more significant for teachers to be willing to participate in leadership development. It should also be considered that innovative collaboration methods can create ideal spaces where teachers can learn how to strengthen their ability to provide quality education for all (Education Development Trust, 2020b). Significantly, collaboration between teacher leaders
  • 12. 6 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter can facilitate more universal methodologies to education developments and provide heightened connection and endless progress. As it has become more significant to build durable relationships and, when working collaboratively, teacher leaders should have a new awareness of their experiences inside the self (their mind-set), whilst paying attention to what is happening around them (Wilson, 2021). In so doing, they may be able to cultivate new habits of mind which is a fundamental disposition to develop during collaboration in schools. Such habits include “being aware of and reflecting on current, present, and past experiences in a non-judgmental manner, demonstrating flexibility and appropriate responsiveness when problem solving, resiliency during difficult times, and demonstrating empathy and compassion towards others” (Wilson, 2021, p. 7). As the role of school leaders has become a more demanding duty, this paper supports the need for understanding collaborative teacher leadership amid COVID-19, which may be significant for future leadership development in schools. We argue that teacher leaders who want to make an effort to work collaboratively should demonstrate a growth mind-set towards building positive relationships with colleagues, learners and the entire school community. Notably, rethinking teacher leadership is influential because of its ability to develop teachers’ self-esteem and value of their functioning through better commitment and collaboration (Kamaruzaman et al., 2020). 3. Research methodology We employed a phenomenological approach in this paper to hear and interpret the different perceptions of teachers in their unique school contexts. By sharing their perceptions of how their leadership qualities were developed, teachers could re-experience the positive emotions of thinking differently, of assisting, of re- thinking established ways of doing and, in so doing, reflect on how they actually developed and applied leadership qualities (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). The sharing of perceptions aligns with phenomenology because it assists in identifying phenomena as perceived by participants in a particular setting (Lester, 1999). Thus, researchers are able to gather rich information and perceptions through qualitative methods such as interviews. By having afforded the participants an opportunity to share their perceptions, we were able to propose an innovative collaborative teacher leadership framework for future collaboration among teachers in schools. A phenomenological approach was effective in bringing to the fore the perceptions of teachers from their own perspectives (Lester, 1999). The use of phenomenology was appropriate because were afforded opportunities to provide detailed interpretations and descriptions of the participants’ lived experiences through bracketing (Qutoshi, 2018). The use of bracketing in phenomenology is significant for research to gain insights into lived experiences. According to Speziale and Carpenter (2007), bracketing is an effective way to ensure validity of the collection and analysis of data. The connection between teachers’ perceptions as well as the environments they found themselves in were highlighted. An application of phenomenology enabled us to obtain valuable information and to
  • 13. 7 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter present findings with a more in-depth understanding about collaborative teacher leadership amid COVID-19. We, therefore, delved deep into the perceptions of the teachers to bring to the fore the rich, underlying tenets of collaborative teacher leadership. We hold the view that the knowledge gained may offer the reader an innovative understanding of the phenomenon under study and extra insight so that it can be applied to different school contexts. 4. Applying social constructivism as theoretical lens This paper was supported by a social-constructivist theory (SCT) because it involved the application of interpretive and naturalistic methods to interpret and intelligently think about phenomena in terms of understandings individuals assign to them (Pouliot, 2007). Human consciousness is seen as the result of a person’s social connections with significant persons (Kozulin, 1990). Individuals’ perceptions of reality are linked to their experiences which, in turn, are linked to individual communication in the social context. At the same time, the way in which individuals describe the social world has an impact on meaning creation because their interactions add to information about others and the creation of new knowledge. An application of social constructivism in this paper can thus be deemed relevant because teachers were afforded opportunities to share their perceptions about their involvement in collaborative efforts regarding teacher leadership amid COVID-19. Notably, nine participants from four different schools in the Pixley Ka Seme (PKS) district of the Northern Cape province in South Africa expressed their views on how they understood their own roles as teacher leaders, whilst starting to work towards collaborating with colleagues. We were cognizant that socially constructed realities should be regarded as ongoing because individuals act according to their own understanding of things (Thomas et al., 2014). Our focus was thus on the participants’ learning which took place because of their collaborations within a specific environment, that is, teacher leadership amid COVID-19. Social constructivism is thus a theory of learning that deals with the attainment of information regarding the lived experiences of individuals (Mogashoa, 2014). Of significance to this paper is the notion that social constructivism promotes problem solving and collaboration in order to construct meaningful knowledge. 5. Sampling and data collection tools This paper is the third research study that is part of a research project undertaken in Douglas schools in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. Douglas is a rural and agricultural town located close to the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. We visited four schools in Douglas to discuss our research projects with teachers and senior management team members. For this study, we purposively selected nine teachers, representing four schools (two primary and two secondary schools), to tell their stories about teacher leadership amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The selection of participants for this study was based on the view of Yin (2011) who claims that selected participants can bring richness and relevance of information in relation to a study’s research questions. Information-rich cases are those from which we can collect extensive data about the central matters of
  • 14. 8 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter collaborative teacher leadership because such cases yield insights and in-depth understanding (Patton, 2015). We made use of email interviews to enable participants to share their perceptions about teacher leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic because email can be effectively used when conducting in-depth interviews (Meho, 2006) to generate rich qualitative data (Costello et al., 2017). Researchers are thus in a position to explore the thoughts, beliefs and feelings of the participants, whilst allowing individuals to identify those issues that have personal significance and meaning to them (Taylor, 1989, p. 52). Thus, using email interviews to capture the perceptions of the participants was more than just “look for and hear story” (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000, p. 78). Rather, the use of email interviews enabled the teachers’ involvement, and its asynchronicity made it easy for them to build storylines at a speed suitable to them, contrasting the controlled space and time they might have experienced in a telephonic or face-to-face interview (James, 2016). Email interviews offered the participants an approach of communication that give the selected participants the opportunity to consider their answers (Illingworth, 2006). Interestingly, our participants took the opportunity to think and talk about information regarding collaborative teacher leadership that might otherwise have continued to be silent and imperceptible. We, therefore, argue that email interviews were potentially enabling because they allowed participants to be in control of where, how and when they wanted to respond to the questions (Bowker & Tuffin, 2004). On the other hand, email interviews may equally be regarded as frustrating for researchers because of a lack of power over the sequential course of interviews. Fortunately, we agreed that our participants would respond to the email interview in their own time, allowing them to take authority of the process of sharing their perceptions regarding teacher leadership. Notably, the participants were eager to complete the email interviews and responded to us within a short period of time. Email interviews were useful, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, because asynchronous email interviewing allows continued engagement with research and provides participants with time to collect and articulate their thoughts, while concurrently ensuring the safety of both participants and researchers (Amri et al., 2021). On receipt of responses, participants were immediately de-identified, the responses were transferred to individual word documents (each with its own encryption codes) to ensure safety of the data. We then sorted the data before starting our process of analysis. 6. Data analysis We employed thematic analysis to analyze the perceptions of the participants. We were aware that while generating themes based on research data, thematic analysis was flexible, which could lead to inconsistency and contradiction (Holloway & Todres, 2003). To address the aforementioned disadvantage of thematic analysis, we kept records of the raw data which assisted us to systemize, relate, and cross-reference data (Halpren, 1983). This also helped to create a clear audit trail of the data we would be using. In this paper, thematic analysis helped to contextualize data, whilst it gave “the dimension of realism, authenticity,
  • 15. 9 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter humanity, personality, emotions, views and values in a situation” (Chikoko, 2015, p. 91). Our analysis involved a summary of the data in terms of similar words, expressions, patterns or themes. We started by organizing and preparing the data. Data were organized into stories for each participant. In so doing, we were able to become acquainted with the data. According to Nieuwenhuis (2017), a worthy analysis depends on an understanding of the data. During this step, we transferred the content of the email interviews and summarized participants’ perceptions in their own words. The participants were indicated as T01 to T09, implying that there was nothing that could potentially make them identifiable. We read the data again and kept reflective notes which helped us to analytically consider insights and ideas as patterns became visible from the data (Pandey & Pandey, 2015). The coding procedure was the third stage in which the data was coded manually. Coding is defined as, “the process of reading carefully through your transcribed data, line by line, and dividing it into meaningful analytical units ... as marking the segments of data symbols, descriptive words or unique identifying names” (Nieuwenhuis, 2017, p. 116). We reviewed and re-read the narratives and took cognizance of all repetitive views, thoughts, and patterns. Guided by the aim of this paper, we recovered and produced all the codes that could be connected with teachers’ views regarding collaborative teacher leadership amid COVID-19. We coded repetitive words and fundamental words with the aim of grouping and linking trails for an easy interpretation of the data. We then categorized codes into a structure by building a main code list that helped us in making sense of the data (Nieuwenhuis, 2017). Codes were positioned into reliable groups and, for this paper, the nine teachers’ views which represented the codes the best, were grouped together for analysis. The codes were reduced to three main themes, namely: ausgang as a way of opening the door for collaboration; homo economicus as a collaborative act; and parrhesia as autonomy towards collaborative teacher leadership. 7. Findings and discussion To present the findings, we used codes T01 to T09 to recognize the participants. Significantly, the results align with contemporary research concerning the influence of COVID-19 on educational matters such as collaborative teacher leadership development. We, henceforth, propose the following culturally responsive leadership framework (CRLF) in support of our findings and subsequent discussion (Figure 1):
  • 16. 10 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Figure 1: Collaborative teacher leadership development framework (CTLDF) 7.1 Ausgang as a way of opening the door for collaboration COVID-19 has required teacher leaders to search for new meaning and purpose, an urge to become less docile, whilst reclaiming a connection with others in a significant manner. In such instance, teacher leaders may be looking for “an exit” or “a way out” (ausgang), taking a microscopic look at the roles they need to play to bring meaning to the school environment (De Klerk, 2014). We argue that ausgang (an exit or a way out) refers to teacher leaders’ ability to choose what actions are suitable to lead and then carry out those actions in an autonomous way. The three teachers (T01–T03) whose responses best represented views regarding ausgang, to escape from docility in their schools during COVID-19, responded as follows: “Teacher leaders should create a positive a learning environment for children to flourish in his own capacity, making it possible for a child to develop as an individual. Teacher leaders must be able to take charge, they have to step up and be extra vigilant. I am of opinion that whilst taking steps to improve the situation at school, we must find ways to work together with other teachers to set an example and to reach particular goals.” [T01] “I think that one should earn respect by starting to take charge of the challenges that we are facing. One can for instance start by being focused on the task at hand and then be available when others need you. I also think that it is important to start a supporting group to start working on a healthy learning environment which will be beneficial to all in future.” [T02] “Like in any business, the school is also a place where someone should take lead of things, to organize and to assist others. I think a way to start to be Ausgang Homo economicus Parrhesia escape from docility to steer collaboration help the self with the aim to foster collaboration create significance to own lives and that of others Taking care of the self, whilst slowly starting initiatives to collaborate and share knowledge, whilst sustaining improvements in teacher leadership practices
  • 17. 11 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter a leader is to be assertive in terms of what you want to do, to work with enthusiasm. Teacher leaders should then, when they take charge of themselves, strengthen the hands of other so that everybody can contribute to changes. So, from growing as an individual and then growing together is definitely something worthwhile to ensure a brighter future for the school environment, albeit challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.” [T03] In terms of ausgang, indications such as “should create”, “take charge”, “step up” and “to start” signify that teachers have mastered knowledge about themselves and the meanings regarding teacher leadership. This implies that teacher leaders should take a stance to move away from the confines that a pandemic like COVID- 19 may bring. By making use of ausgang, teacher leaders would position themselves to take responsibility for who they are and what they can do. Arguably, if teacher leaders would examine their personal capacities, promote a mindfulness of their professional confines, but apply their minds, they would be able to move beyond the boundaries of any pandemic. By taking charge of the self, they may then be in a position to work in collaboration with others. This aligns with the literature review in this paper in that COVID-19 has encouraged teacher leaders to step up to become more inclusive, perceptive, vulnerable, sensitively capable of transformation, and thoughtful so that they may guide themselves whilst planning towards working collaboratively with others. At the same time this aligns with the theoretical framework in that the participants described the realities regarding their ausgang during COVID-19 and how they interacted with others towards stronger collaborative leadership in future. 7.2 Homo economicus as collaborative act Drawing on De Klerk (2014), homo economicus refers to free and autonomous beings who use opportunities to learn about the veiled self, to take care of the self and then to free the self from educational challenges that may arise. During such discovery, the homo economicus is regarded as an entrepreneur, an individual capable and responsible for taking care of the self. Thus, teacher leaders have to learn that to take a leap of faith may be significant in achieving sharper focus and effectiveness. The teachers (T04–T06) whose views could be closely aligned with the notion of homo economicus, are noted: “A teacher leader should take the lead in first and be an example and together with that is to make well-planned decisions. To help the self, teachers should participate in professional learning activities. Although my leadership role in our school is relatively small, I still regard it as important. I also collaborate and make plans for specific interventions and to give support and help.” [T04] “I regard it as important to have an idea what it is to help myself and how to grow before I can actually be of assistance to others. I think this is important because teacher leaders should have great leader qualities and an excellent work etiquette. We will then be able to serve others, see their needs and challenges and do something about it. This is what I call helping the self to help other.” [T05]
  • 18. 12 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter “I want to start off to say that every teacher is a leader in their own class. Teachers should show their individual strength in the way they showcase their skills. To help yourself, teachers should be obliged to attend a leadership course, even if it is only to understand what leadership entails. During COVID-19 I argued that leaders should set the example to be in control of the self, whilst motivating others - this is a great way to ensure good collaboration with teachers in future. In so doing, I help myself and others to understand our shortcoming while working on improving ourselves.” [T06] The homo economicus takes care of the self and, derived from the participants’ responses, phrases like “lead in first”, “helping the self” and “control of the self” are clear examples of self-care. Arguably, when teacher leaders want to exercise self-care, they should question their own actions, interrogate their educational beliefs and objectives which would guide them as to what they should do and, consequently, what they should learn to lead from their experiences. In so doing, teacher leaders would deliberately assess their beliefs and explore ways to improve individual abilities, whilst finding transformative ways to nurture new roles and relationships. This may result in teachers becoming more approachable in terms of efforts to communicate, collaborative preparation as well as taking responsibility for contemporary leadership abilities to help the self, whilst creating opportunities towards collaborative growth. This aligns with the theoretical framework in this paper in that individuals should consider the thought that socially constructed realities should be regarded as ongoing, and individuals should, therefore, act on their interpretation and knowledge in terms of teacher leadership development. 7.3 Parrhesia as autonomy towards collaborative teacher leadership The purpose of parrhesia, besides directing oneself in an open and free manner, is to foster the construction of a contemporary and analytically thoughtful self (Foucault, 1983). When aligned with the COVID-19 pandemic, the aim of such construction would be to circumvent being held as a slave of the situation individuals find themselves in, but rather to attain mastery over the regulations posed upon them. The participants (T07–T09) expressed themselves in the following way: “In collaborating with other colleagues at the schools, may contribute to improvements becoming a reality. One should be goal-oriented, taking small steps at a time. One should, therefore, take a stance to be in control of your own practices and development – this will make it easier to work together with other colleagues.” [T07] “Teacher leaders should have courage, integrity, passion, positive attitude and a lot of commitment. They should draw on their individual strengths and abilities. In this way, helping one another, we can all grow professionally.” [T08] “Development of the self and others is very important. Remember, a motivated teacher is crucial to success in the classroom. I believe that teacher leaders who are in control of their practices, will also be able to
  • 19. 13 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter share different teaching approaches, encourage each other to attend workshops based on teacher development and work as a team.” [T09] The participants’ responses reveal that they regard “an autonomous self” as important for teacher leadership development, whilst they also seemed to be prepared to work towards collaborating with colleagues. This is echoed in phrases such as “in control of your own practices”, “draw on their individual strengths” and “development of the self and others”. Arguably, to act on the notion of parrhesia, teacher leaders may become the authors of their individual leadership capacities and understandings where they create meaning in their personal lives and those of others without weakening the locus of the individual self. From the literature review in this paper it can be derived that autonomy is motivated by a necessity for individual and professional development, so that self-directed teacher leaders may seek out opportunities over the course of their careers to develop further, whilst being more ready to collaborate with others. This aligns with the theoretical framework in this paper in that teacher leaders were afforded the opportunity to describe their leadership abilities amid COVID-19 and how it has impacted on meaning creation because their interactions added to information about themselves and how they would like to see collaboration with others. 8. Conclusion The purpose of this paper was to analyze teacher perceptions with respect to their leadership abilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, whilst also making suggestions for collaborative teacher leadership development. In lieu of an analysis of participants’ narratives, a CTLDF was proposed. The framework recommends that teacher leaders, in their endeavor to improve their leadership abilities, also make room for collaborative teacher leadership in future. Firstly, ausgang urges a move out of a state of docility to a deliberate effort to act upon the desire to collaborate with others to improve leadership in schools. Secondly, homo economicus suggests that teacher leaders should be innovative and responsive, whilst creating opportunities for collaborative growth. Thirdly, parrhesia notes that the teacher leaders should acknowledge that working towards collaboration may be a process and, therefore, they must prepare themselves to effectively collaborate with others. This paper supports earlier findings in the academic literature. For instance, Fairman and Mackenzie (2014) have discussed the significance of relationships, collaboration, collegiality and trust in supporting teacher leaders; development and school improvement. Their findings revealed that teacher leaders who perform duties as teacher leaders rarely saw their work as significant, whilst they acknowledged that working collaboratively had a greater impact on school improvement. Complementary to the aforementioned study, our study contributes to knowledge in that it proposes a CTLDF with innovative strategies which have not yet been associated with future teacher leadership development. Arguably, the CTLDF provides thoughts to accelerate progress in terms of collaborative teacher leadership development, whilst it foregrounds teacher leaders’ authority regarding collaborative efforts for professional growth.
  • 20. 14 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 9. Limitations Although this paper is the third of a series as part of a research project at a university in South Africa, it only captured the narratives of nine teachers at four schools. In addition, it excluded the voices of senior management teams regarding their perceptions of teacher leadership. 10. Recommendations This paper recommends that senior management team members’ thoughts regarding teacher leadership development in schools should be put under the spotlight from a performative narrative point of view. We also recommend that action research be conducted to test the implementation of the proposed CTLDF in schools. 11. References Amri, M., Angelakis, C., & Logan, D. (2021). Utilizing asynchronous email interviews for health research: Overview of benefits and drawbacks. BMC Research Notes, 14, 1– 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13104-021-05547-2 Angelle, P. S. (2017). Leading beyond the classroom. International Studies in Educational Administration (Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration & Management), 45(3), 101–107. Baker-Doyle, K. J. (2017). Transformative Teachers: Teacher Leadership and Learning in a Connected World. Harvard Education Press. Behrstock-Sherratt, E., Brookins, P., & Payne, G. (2020). Teacher leadership in uncertain times: Recommendations from board-certified teachers for school, district and state leaders. https://www.nbpts.org/wp-content/uploads/Covid-Teacher-Leadership.pdf Berg, J. H., Horn, P., Supovitz, J. A., & Margolis, J. (2019). Typology of teacher leadership programs. CPRE Research Reports. https://repository.upenn.edu/cpre_researchreports/109 Berg, J. H., & Zoellick, B. (2019). Teacher leadership: Toward a new conceptual framework. Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 4(1), 2–14. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPCC-06-2018-0017 Bowker, N., & Tuffin, K. (2004). Using the online medium for discursive research about people with disabilities. Social Science Computer Review, 22, 228–241. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894439303262561 Case, P., French, R., & Simpson, P. (2011). Philosophy of leadership. In A. Bryman, D. Collinson, K. Grint, B. Jackson & M. Uhl-Bien (Eds.), SAGE Handbook of Leadership (pp. 685–727). Sage. Cheung, R., Reinhardt, T., Stone, E., & Little, J. W. (2018). Defining teacher leadership: a framework. Phi Delta Kappan, 100(3), 38–44. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031721718808263 Chikoko, R. (2015). Emerging professional teacher identity of early childhood development/ foundation phase pre-service teachers: An interplay of dispositions. [Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of KwaZulu-Natal]. http://ukzn-dspace.ukzn. ac.za/handle/ 10413/13928 Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. Jossey Bass. Costello, L., McDermott, M.-L., & Wallace, R. (2017). Netnography: Range of practice, misperceptions, and missed opportunities. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16, 1–12. http:// doi.org/10.1177/1609406917700647
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  • 23. 17 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Vicente, A. J., Tan, T. A., & Yu, A. R. (2018). Collaborative approach in software engineering education: An interdisciplinary case. Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, 17, 127-152. https://doi.org/10.28945/4062 Wilson, A. (2021). Emotionally agile leadership amid COVID-19. School Leadership Review, 15(2), 1–21. https://scholarworks.sfasu.edu/slr/vol15/iss2/1 Yin, R. K. (2011). Qualitative research from start to finish. Guilford Press. Zhang, M., Tian, J., Ni., H., & Fang. G. (2021). Exploring teacher leadership and the factors contributing to it: An empirical study on Chinese private higher education institutions. SAGE Open, 11(1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1177/21582440211002175 Appendix 1 Email interview grid on teachers’ perceptions about teacher leadership Purpose of the study To apply transformative learning to invest in knowledge acquisition regarding teacher leadership in schools with specific reference to collaborative teacher leadership 1. Why do you think, it is important that teachers are developed as teacher leaders in schools? 2. In your opinion, wat are the contributions that teachers as leaders can make to education and the school environment in particular? 3. How would you describe a teacher leader? Please elaborate on the specific characteristics you deem necessary that a teacher leader should possess. 4. Why do you think it is important to motivate teachers to participate in professional learning activities? Would you regard it as fundamental? Please motivate. 5. Can you tell me more about your leadership experience before and during the COVID-19 pandemic? Which duties were you entrusted with? Describe your reactions, fears, approaches etc. 6. How will you demonstrate that you consistently listen to the people affected by your efforts? 7. How would you as teacher leader collaborate with your colleagues to improve the learner academic achievement in your school? Please cite examples if possible. 8. How would you assist a colleague who is having difficulty with his/her teaching? 9. What would you consider to be some of the best methods to use to achieve the educational goals set by policy groups (e.g. department of education). 10. Would you regard mentoring as a part of your responsibility as a professional teacher? Motivate why you say so.
  • 24. 18 ©Authors This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 18-33, February 2022 https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.21.2.2 Received Nov 12, 2021; Revised Jan 25, 2022; Accepted Feb 7, 2022 Adopting Virtual Classes during the COVID-19 Lockdown: Interrogating New Approaches to Teaching and the Exclusion of Learners in Rural Settings Raphael Nhongo* North-West University, Mafikeng, South Africa Liqhwa Siziba North-West University, Mafikeng, South Africa Abstract. A variety of instructional strategies were devised to ensure continuity in education during the COVID-19 lockdown. This paper interrogates the exclusion of learners in rural settings of Zimbabwe as a result of the methods of teaching that were adopted by the government during the COVID-19 lockdown. The paper seeks to answer the question; how are the strategies meant to ensure continuity in education during the lockdown excluding learners in rural settings? The strategies that were adopted by the government have been identified to be contributing to the exclusion of learners in rural settings. Data was collected through semi- structured interviews from 20 teachers who teach in rural areas at two of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces. The interviews were done as a follow-up to the approaches of remote teaching adopted during the lockdown. The study argues that the adoption of uniform approaches to teaching and learning throughout the country during COVID-19 lockdown would not suffice as the functionality of each approach depends on the infrastructure and the economic conditions characteristic of each particular geographical location. The strategies adopted during the pandemic in a low-income country like Zimbabwe should not be permanent but should simply be an emergency response. Learners in rural settings are bound to be excluded in education during the pandemic if policymakers enact ‘one size fits all’ approaches meant for abrupt implementation. Strategies that suit the idea of emergency remote teaching during the pandemic are the most favourable. Keywords: COVID-19; virtual classroom; exclusion; lockdown; rural settings * Corresponding author: Raphael Nhongo, raphaelnhongo@gmail.com
  • 25. 19 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 1. Introduction For education to continue in schools during the COVID-19 lockdown, various measures were suggested with some taking effect and some remaining as proposals. The proposed actions were to facilitate instruction through online classrooms, to deliver lessons via radio and also to have the lessons conducted via social media, specifically WhatsApp. However, the implementation of these teaching and learning approaches in Zimbabwe’s schools were associated with several challenges. Such challenges included unfamiliarity with Information and Communication Technology (ICT), access to gadgets for sending and receiving lessons, network accessibility, availability of electricity and affordability of data to access the information. However, in noticing these shortcomings, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MPSE) proposed the use of radio in lessons delivery for primary and secondary school learners in addition to online classrooms. The MPSE also identified learners in rural settings as the ones facing more challenges and there was a need therefore, to also avail hard copies of lessons broadcast on radio. In a live broadcast interview on South African television station, SABC 1 on 04 May 2020, James Elder, the representative for United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Southern Africa outlined a strategy by his organisation to negotiate with governments in his jurisdiction to support and implement the use of radio for conducting lessons during the COVID-19 induced school closures. The paper looks at how remote teaching excludes learners in rural settings of Zimbabwe, specifically those in the southern parts of the country in Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces. UNICEF has observed that in Eastern and Southern Africa, internet accessibility is constrained as only one in five (22%) households have access to the internet. In comparison, 84% of the rural people, where the majority of learners reside, have no access to electricity (UNICEF, 2020). Most rural communities in Zimbabwe are underserved or unserved at all concerning radio signals (Barakabitze et al., 2019; Gwaka et al., 2018; Sunil, 2021). Because of the challenges related to limited or no internet connectivity and radio signal in rural areas, it is therefore prudent to investigate the exclusion of rural learners in education during the COVID-19 induced lockdown. The study analyses the approaches that were proposed and adopted in Zimbabwe with the main focus being to outline how remote teaching excludes learners in rural communities. This study shows that learners in rural areas continue to be excluded in remote teaching during the COVID-19 lockdown because the MPSE did not consider the state of ICT infrastructure and the economic conditions in rural settings as compared to urban areas. Predecessor studies have recommended online teaching as the most immediate solution for ensuring continuity in education during a crisis. However, this study suggests that before the adoption of any remote teaching and instructional strategy, a pre-assessment of available resources is required. The paper also advocates for the adoption of varied instructional strategies informed by the state of ICT infrastructure and the prevailing economic conditions. The discussion begins by looking at experiences of China and South Africa in ensuring continuity in education during school closures.
  • 26. 20 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 2. New Instructional Approaches during the Covid-19 Induced School Closures The COVID-19 induced school closures have been more serious because they affected all schools in the world, unlike during other pandemics where education in specific countries was affected. The 1918 influenza pandemic which had devastating effects stretching from 1918 to 1919 took the lives of 50 to 100 million people worldwide (Gallo & Trompetto, 2020; King & Londrigan, 2021; Krishnan et al., 2020; Liang et al., 2021; Owusu-Fordjour, Koomson, Hanson, 2020; Psacharopoulos et al., 2020). It has been proven that the 1918 influenza was more deadly than the COVID-19 pandemic (King & Londrigan, 2021; Lee & Rhee, 2021; Liang et al., 2021; Scarpa et al., 2020; Yamin, 2020). Yamin (2020) points out that historically, the first corona virus surfaced in 1965 with symptoms of common cold and thereafter, five different strands of this virus emerged. Before COVID- 19, the most severe of these viruses was the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which infected about eight thousand people and took the lives of around 800 (Yamin, 2020). At the end of 2002, China implemented a variety of measures including stopping face-to-face instruction in some parts of the country to curtail the spread of SARS (Cauchemez et al., 2014; Huang et al., 2020). Similarly, in 2009, the outbreak of H1N1 Flu did not spare the education sector in countries that include China, Italy, Serbia, New Zealand, Thailand, and United States (Cauchemez et al., 2014; Huang et al., 2020). The closure of schools as a result of H1N1 Flu was shorter than the time that it has taken with COVID-19 so far. Governments, worldwide implemented school closures as a way of controlling the spread of COVID-19 in early 2020 (Burzynska & Contreras, 2020; Viner et al., 2020). History shows that the only time that Zimbabwe closed schools was from 1977 to 1980 as a result of the liberation struggle (Kriger, 1988; Nhongo & Tshotsho, 2021). It is vital to begin by looking at the experiences of other countries to understand how they adopted new approaches to ensure continuity in education during the COVID-19 induced lockdown. China’s experience is particularly essential for this study, as some of its methods and approaches were used to analyse those adopted by Zimbabwe. South Africa’s lessons were also reviewed to make a pre-exposure of the challenges that result in the exclusion of rural learners. There is strong evidence shared worldwide which suggests that the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, also identified as the epicentre of the pandemic before it spread to other parts of China and the rest of the world. China was the first nation worldwide to provide remote instruction to hundreds of millions of learners during the COVID-19 pandemic (Huang et al., 2020). The government of China initiated many emergency strategies for managing COVID-19. These included social distancing and the subsequent closing of schools (McAleer, 2020; Wang et al., 2020). The government of China launched the “Disrupted Classes, Undisrupted Learning” plan (Huang et al, 2020) also referred to as the “Suspending Classes Without Stopping Learning” strategy (Zhang et al., 2020). This plan was meant to ensure continuity in education during the lockdown period by providing easily accessible online education to above 270 million learners from home (Huang et al., 2020; Zhang et al., 2020). While the two concepts, “Disrupted Classes, Undisrupted Learning” and “Suspending Classes
  • 27. 21 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Without Stopping Learning” carry the same meaning, the variation in terminology could most probably be explained in terms of the approaches that were involved in Chinese-English translation. In implementing teaching and learning through the “Suspending Classes Without Stopping Learning” strategy (Zhang et al., 2020) or “Disrupted Classes, Undisrupted Learning” (Huang et al., 2020), the government of China took five steps to implement the plan: 1. The government of China made efforts in implementing the provision of reliable network. The Education Ministry and several telecom operators worked together in developing the online teaching platforms. China approved 37 organisations and internet providers to provide online educational platforms. 2. Training of teachers. China’s department of education got seriously involved in training and preparing teachers for online instruction. Localised training of teachers was also organised by the schools in complementing the government’s initiative. 3. It was enabling schools and local authorities to provide online instruction with available resources. To ensure accessibility of knowledge and resources to all learners, particularly those in rural areas, China used satellite television receivers to reach out to those without internet coverage. 4. It was formulating plans for preparing learners for post-COVID return to school. The development of courses that taught learners about the pandemic was initiated. 5. It was working on guidelines for school reopening after the pandemic. The government put in place a plan to have schools opening in a staggered manner (Zhang et al., 2020). The plan adopted by China could be adopted by other countries, including Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is characterised by network problems as will be shown in the discussions. These challenges end up being a potential to exclude learners in areas with network problems. There is need therefore, for the government to engage various network providers such as Econet, Netone, Telecel and Powertel to avail affordable data packages and also partner with the government in improving ICT infrastructure. As of 23 May 2020, South Africa was the hardest hit African country with 21,343 cases of COVID-19, followed by Algeria with 8,308 cases, and Lesotho being the least affected with only 1 case. South Africa adopted a variety of measures to ensure continuity in education during the lockdown, and those measures were dominated by online teaching and learning just like China and other countries in the world. Dube (2020) reflected on the problems faced by learners in rural settings in South Africa during the COVID-19 lockdown. Dube (2020) was looking at problems faced by learners in the adoption of new approaches to teaching, while the current study is looking at how similar problems result in the exclusion of learners in rural settings. However, this study is similar to the one done by Dube (2020) in that they both reflect on problems faced in rural settings in the
  • 28. 22 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter education sector during the COVID-19 lockdown. Dube (2020) argues that learners in rural settings face unprecedented problems in transitioning to a ‘new normal’ in education. Similarly, Mahlaba (2020) highlights the importance of self- directed learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ramrathan (2020) focused on the South African education during the COVID-19 pandemic and argued for a curriculum that is relevant and responsive to the issues and challenges of the country within a global world. While the South African government is promoting online education as the only option during COVID-19, this model excludes the bulk of learners in rural settings from accessing education, due to a lack of devices to access the internet and low-tech software (Dube, 2020). In addition to the challenges faced by learners, Dube (2020) also focused on the exclusion of rural leaners in South Africa. Molise and Dube (2020) note that emergency online teaching (EOT) was adopted in South Africa during COVID-19 school closures as a way of ensuring continuity in education. The idea behind the adoption of EOT was informed by the realisation that some teachers were incompetent in ICT, while others were inexperienced, all this in addition to poor internet connectivity (Molise & Dube, 2020; Mukuna & Aloka, 2020). The results of their study revealed that EOT is desirable and doable, especially in rural schools. The implementation of online teaching has not been without challenges in many countries around the world. Al-Naabi and Al-Abri (2021) did a cross-sectional survey where they wanted to hear the perceptions of teachers about the implementation of ERT during the COVID-19 lockdown at Omani higher education. The findings of their study indicated that teachers’ academic qualifications and prior experience influenced the success of e-learning practices. A similar study was carried out by Batac et al. (2021) who looked at teachers’ perceptions, experiences and insights in using blended learning during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines. In using blended learning, the teachers experienced challenges such as readiness, technology literacy, financial difficulties, health risks and access to technology (Batac et al., 2021). Alghamdi and Al-Ghamdi (2021) researched on elementary teachers’ thoughts about distance education and learning twenty-first century skills during COVID-19 pandemic. The results of the study showed that the research participants were for the idea of transformation of knowledge and resources used in teaching and learning in the modern era (Alghamdi & Al-Ghamdi, 2021). The current study investigates challenges that are faced in implementing ERT in rural schools. 3. Emergency Remote Teaching as an Ideal Strategy The arguments raised in this paper are guided by emergency remote teaching (ERT) as a conceptual idea. According to Hodges et al. (2020), ERT entails temporarily shifting from the usual instructional method to the adoption of educational support that is reliable, instant and manageable. ERT is temporary but requires the use of different strategies and priorities from those of traditional face-to-face teaching (Bozkurt & Sharma, 2020). The main feature of ERT is that it uses fully remote instructional strategies that is normally delivered face-to-face, that would return to the traditional format once the pandemic is over (Hodges et al. 2020). ERT does not necessarily require a recreation of a robust educational
  • 29. 23 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter system, but it involves the promotion of temporary access to instruction through the use of readily available resources and infrastructure. ERT does not require expensive and complex intervention strategies but it simply utilises readily available, affordable and accessible resources. Although online teaching can be part of ERT, where ICT infrastructure is developed, it should be noted that it is not always the case that online teaching can be ERT especially in developing countries like Zimbabwe where there is poor ICT infrastructure. According to Aguliera and Nightengale-Lee (2020), ERT can be distinguished from online teaching in that ERT is an abrupt shift from classroom based instruction and accommodates strategies that do not require too much planning. ERT should not be labelled as online teaching considering existing and known diversity in educational approaches (Talidong, 2020). Designing a robust online learning curriculum and putting up adequate ICT infrastructure would take time before it can be operational to enable learners to access instructional material (Toquero, 2020). Zimbabwe is in a ‘crisis within a crisis’ because while it is facing the COVID-19 pandemic, it is at the same time experiencing serious economic hardships. Trying to set up online teaching as a strategy for providing instruction across the country during the COVID-19 school closures would remain a pipe dream in Zimbabwe. ERT affords educators freedom and flexibility to choose from a variety of instructional options in the midst of a crisis (Toquero, 2020). The study uses ERT as an approach to show that the strategies for ensuring continuity in teaching and learning in Zimbabwe require consideration of accessibility, availability and affordability of resources to be used. ERT requires pre-assessment of available resources so that there is minimal disruption to continuity in teaching and learning during school closures. We use ERT here to assess the three strategies which are online teaching, teaching through radio, and the use of WhatsApp; and to reveal how the adoption of these strategies excluded and included learners from rural settings in Zimbabwe. 4. Methodology In pursuit of unravelling how the new instructional approaches excluded learners from rural settings, a qualitative phenomenological research design was used. The paper looks at how the three instructional strategies for remote teaching that Zimbabwe adopted during the COVID-19 lockdown resulted in the exclusion of learners in rural settings. The phenomenological design requires that interviews be employed in order to understand human experiences (Creswell, 2017). Semi- structured interviews with 20 teachers from 20 schools in Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North provinces in Zimbabwe were conducted. The semi- structured interviews were conducted with teachers from both primary and secondary schools on how the new approaches to teaching and learning as a response to the COVID-19 lockdown excluded or had the potential to disadvantage rural learners. The strategies that were identified to be in use included online teaching, the radio and WhatsApp. All these approaches excluded rural learners in a variety of ways, the major challenge being that of spontaneously devising and implementing the new strategies.
  • 30. 24 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter The 20 teachers were interviewed through WhatsApp and phone calls depending on the channel preferred by the research participant. These methods were used because the interviews were conducted during the COVID-19 lockdown when movements were restricted. The major criteria for selecting teachers was that they taught at a rural school that falls in either Matabeleland South or Matabeleland North. These research participants were selected through purposeful sampling and snowball sampling. Purposeful sampling sometimes referred to as judgemental sampling is where research participants are selected because they have specific characteristics that are ideal for the research (Vehovar et al., 2016). Snowball sampling is where research participants with similar characteristics create a network that makes it ideal for the researcher to identify them (Vehovar et al., 2016). Although a total of 20 teachers were interviewed, the data presented came from only 12 teachers since they are the ones that provided data which is suitable for this paper. As an ethical procedure, the real names of research participants were not used in data presentation and discussion, but rather, pseudonyms were used. Table 1 below shows the pseudonyms that were used to anonymise the research participants. Clearance was sought from MPSE before interviewing the teachers. The data gathered from the research participants was destroyed soon after the publication of this paper. Table 1: Pseudonyms for research participants CODE PSEUDONYM 1 Slie 2 Sibo 3 Nana 4 Mpue 5 Daisy 6 Nothando 7 Mamba 8 Talan 9 Tawa 10 Mpo 11 Nicky 12 Angy 5. Exclusion of Rural Learners through Remote Teaching The approaches that have been adopted in teaching and learning as a response to COVID-19 lockdown call for remote instruction. Hodges et al. (2020) note that researchers in educational technology have referred to the types of modes of education that fall under remote teaching as distance learning, distributed learning, blended learning, online learning and mobile learning. However, Hodges et al. (2020) proposed “emergency remote teaching” to refer to instructional methods of delivery during the pandemic. 5.1 Online Learning Online learning can take place in synchronous or asynchronous situations using a variety of ICT devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktops with
  • 31. 25 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter internet access. Synchronous learning is a more structured instructional method where the subjects take place in real-time in live virtual classroom settings (Casey et al., 2018). In asynchronous classes, students cannot get feedback instantly and instructional material is not provided in real-time classes, but on different learning management platforms (Casey et al., 2018). The MPSE of Zimbabwe recommended the adoption of the use of a platform called Ruzivo as a way of providing instruction to learners during the COVID-19 lockdown. Ruzivo is a subsidiary of Higherlife Foundation and works in partnership with the MPSE (Ruzivo, 2020). It is an online instructional platform targeting both primary and secondary school learners (Ruzivo, 2019). Ruzivo was not established as an emergency remote teaching platform to cater for education during the COVID-19 lockdown, but it was set up through Higherlife Foundation in 2019. Higherlife Foundation’s mandate is to uplift education from the grassroots up to tertiary level without excluding learners from rural settings (Ruzivo, 2019). Ruzivo is learner-centred, and knowledge is personalised, allowing each learner to work at their own pace without their teacher and get immediate feedback on completed exercises. Although this platform was designed to reach out to learners in rural areas, the same learners whom it was intended for are excluded because it requires internet for one to use it. Both the internet and the devices to access Ruzivo are not readily available in rural areas, rendering this platform a preserve of a very few learners in rural settings. For online learning to take place, learners require gadgets such as smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops. They also need internet access, data and electricity. However, all these materials and services are not easily accessible to rural learners since the majority of them come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The teachers indicated that learners in rural areas could not afford to buy devices for accessing learning material online. Slie, indicated that “relevant gadgets in rural areas are the old model type of cell phones, few have smartphones, cost and maintenance of these gadgets is also high”. On the other hand, Sibo registered her observation that “Some learners do not have the gadgets for online teaching like phones and laptops. Parents do not have money to buy the gadgets”. Mpue, said “Computers are available at the school but learners do not have access to the school because of the lockdown, so they remain excluded in online learning”. Nana’s opinion was that “Some people in rural areas do not have smartphones and data is expensive plus with this COVID-19, movements are limited hence no helping hands from the neighbours”. These observations by teachers indicate that learners in rural settings are excluded from online learning because they do not have devices to access online classes. The unavailability of mobile network and electricity to power the devices also play a massive role in the exclusion of learners from online teaching in rural settings. To this end, Daisy noted that: In Beitbridge West, Zimbabwe’s network is a challenge. In most areas such as Dombo, Madali, Mtangamchena, Masera, Toporo there is no network at all. Shashe also has no network at all...Parents are relying on South African networks which at times cut off, hence online learning might be a challenge to the rural child.
  • 32. 26 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Nothando gave the following detailed account: Online teaching can be a great challenge to rural schools. Let’s consider schools like Gomoza Primary where there is no electricity. For instance, there is an NGO called Profoture, which donated ICT gadgets such as tablets, laptops and projectors. They wanted to ensure that the school embraces technology in all aspects, but we are failing to make use of those gadgets because we don't have electricity. Moreover, there is a network problem at Gomoza, so doing online teaching can also be a challenge as it requires one to have network access. Learners in Gomoza are also ICT illiterate since they have less exposure to ICT tools. Learners can't even do simple things such as switching on a smartphone because they are rarely exposed to smartphones, so online learning can be challenging. Mamba said: Online teaching is a real challenge to most rural areas. For example, in Gokwe South, schools like Kasuwe, Ngani, Manyoni, Chamatendera, Huchu, Masosoni and Chireya Simuchembu 1 and 2 in Gokwe North just to mention a few have no electricity. Sibo put it in the following words: There is no network coverage in this area. We use Botswana network Mascom and Orange, whose airtime and data are expensive to buy using Pula. Most learners are not computer or ICT literate. The network can only be accessed at specific locations and one has to go to that point to access what material online. Talan from Matabeleland South revealed that: Poor network and the unavailability of mobile network services are some of the challenge faced. Some places still do not have viable network system and if it’s to be done online, those on the digital divide won’t access the lessons. In Silozwe network is so poor such that one cannot even open google. So online education will be for those with, then those without network. Access to network will only be for those with gadgets and money, meaning online education is only going to embrace the elite mostly and ignore the plight of the poor and those on the digital divide. The problems of network availability and access to electricity coupled with lack of knowledge of the use of ICT tools exclude rural learners from online instruction. It was also pointed out that in areas where mobile network is available, learners can still be excluded from online learning because they cannot afford mobile data. The teachers indicated that parents and guardians whom learners depend on for financial support were caught unprepared by the closures of schools and therefore had no money to buy data to support online learning. Zimbabwe is facing an economic crisis, and the people in the rural areas who are dependent on subsistence farming are the hardest hit after the country received poor rainfall during the 2019-2020 farming season. Tawa revealed that:
  • 33. 27 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Most parents in Vulindlela in Ward 16 are dependent on peasant farming for their survival. So the absence of rain affected their produce heavily meaning that whatever they got will be channelled towards basic commodities. Online teaching will be a difficult thing to implement since no resources will be channelled towards its implementation. Echoing the same sentiments, Angy retorted that: Even though some are on a viable network and have phones, they still won’t manage to access online lessons because of unaffordability of data. Most Zimbabweans are poor, and parents won’t sacrifice the little they earn for their children to be online, they would rather chase the expensive basic commodities. Furthermore, the Silozwe community relies on selling craftwork to tourists, and lockdown means no tourist visits and no means of income to parents. What exacerbates the situation is the frequent and ad hoc upward review of data prices. For instance, on the 5th of May in 2020, in the midst of a hard lockdown, mobile network operators hiked the price of data bundles by up to 225% (“Econet raises data”, 2020). Online learning has been confused with ERT, and that is the reason why it is challenging to implement it during the COVID-19 crisis in Zimbabwe. Online learning excludes learners in rural settings because it is applied under conditions and in contexts it is not suited. Policymakers opt for the implementation of policies in a ‘one size fits all’ approach throughout the whole country, yet some contexts require tailor made approaches specific to their unique conditions. This preferred approach results in some of these strategies not getting operationalised especially in contexts where they are not well suited. The MPSE, as an arm of government has to consider the extent to which the ICT infrastructure is developed in the rural areas before settling for online teaching as a nationwide strategy. ERT would not consider online teaching as a possible strategy in rural settings because the available ICT infrastructure is underdeveloped. Aguliera and Nightengale-Lee (2020) argue that marginalised communities in rural areas need to be afforded ERT that utilises readily available resources. In rural areas where ICT infrastructure is poor, there is need to consider other instructional strategies that are not necessarily online teaching. 5.2 Learning through Radio Although most rural areas have no access to the internet, some of them do have access to a radio signal. In realising that learners in rural areas were going to be excluded if online teaching was to be taken as the only approach in delivering instruction during the lockdown, the government of Zimbabwe proposed the broadcasting of lessons through the radio. To cater for those without radio receivers, it was suggested that learners from rural schools be availed with hard copies of lessons broadcast on radio. The government through MPSE revealed that it had reached an agreement with Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) to have lessons delivered through radio (Gono, 2020). It was also revealed that printed material to complement radio lessons was going to be distributed to
  • 34. 28 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter those areas without radio signal (Gono, 2020). However, it was not clear when exactly the airing of lessons on the radio would start. UNICEF also pledged to provide assistance to governments in Southern Africa to capacitate them for the implementation and dissemination of lessons through radio (UNICEF, 2020). UNICEF also assured Zimbabwe that those learners who have no access to radio signal would benefit from printed material (UNICEF, 2020). The efforts made by UNICEF are the same as those proposed by the government of Zimbabwe which shows that Zimbabwe is banking on the teaching and learning programmes that are rolled out by UNICEF. The teachers also concurred that radio was the best platform for delivering lessons because learners without receivers can substitute them with simple, and cheap cell phones as radio receivers. The teachers noted that although lesson delivery through radio had several advantages, it also had its own disadvantages. For instance, Mpo observed thus: The option by the government to offer lessons through the radio is much better but in our case as it is in other neighboring schools, this is again a non-starter. Yes, almost every home has a radio but just for playing recorded music as the channels are unreachable as well. The FM radio stations are only better accessible when one is on top of a mountain. Then the question is, how many times will a person climb a mountain to get access to radio signal? Nicky, the head of one of the schools said: I am the head of the school and my home is closer to the school but I have not received any teaching or lessons material. I only read about it in the newspapers where the minister was talking about areas like ours where there are no radio waves. We are still waiting for those booklets maybe they will come one day. The other challenge was that there was going to be limited time for interactive engagement between learners and instructors for further explanations and clarifications. Learners in rural areas could be excluded in that they may not have access to a network to make calls for clarification and airtime cost remains a severe challenge for them. Odera (2011) observes that radio is one of the most effective and affordable educational technologies available in developing countries in Africa. When considering, ERT, radio sounds as the best option for rural settings but the challenge is that some areas do not have radio signal while some learners do not have access to radio receivers. 5.3 WhatsApp as a Learning Platform Despite being familiar and accessible to many even in rural areas, WhatsApp is treated with scepticism as a formal learning platform that can compete with online teaching and traditional face-to-face method. Although teachers have always been discouraged from using social media as a teaching platform, WhatsApp has however, gained popularity as an instructional method during the lockdown. As our societies move towards advancements in information sharing, education is one area that faces challenges in making sense of this transition (Ostashewski &
  • 35. 29 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Reid, 2013). The teachers who were interviewed particularly those teaching examination classes reported that they never stopped teaching upon school closures as they continued engaging with learners through WhatsApp. The teachers mentioned that although WhatsApp was not a formal instructional method, it was however, more effective than all the other methods of remote teaching. There is a need to explore ways in which WhatsApp can be formalised as an acceptable platform for teaching and learning since it is easily accessible. While WhatsApp has proven to be more convenient than other platforms that require internet, it should, however, be borne in mind that some rural areas still have no mobile network coverage. It has to be noted again that in rural areas, not all learners can afford smartphones that are compatible with the WhatsApp application. The teachers said that although WhatsApp was a convenient method for instruction and lesson delivery, its major challenge was mobile network accessibility, affordability of data and access to smartphones. Mpo said: Although WhatsApp is a very effective way, network coverage is the greatest barrier. It may be faster in reaching the learners but there is no reliable network coverage. Another impediment is the cost of bundles. With our school and other surrounding areas, people depend on farming. This year there is drought and therefore people have no money. The challenge with WhatsApp is that learners can abuse it by engaging in mischievous activities during online lessons. Cetinkaya (2017) suggests that educators have to be cautious when engaging learners through WhatsApp as studies have shown that learners’ attention is diverted from learning to other issues that extend beyond academic scope. While WhatsApp can qualify as an effective ERT method, it has to be complemented by other instructional strategies so that all learners are accommodated. ERT calls for use of a variety of instructional strategies instead of sticking to only one. Today’s learners are inquisitive as they would want to communicate instantly, as such, WhatsApp has become one of the most popular mobile phone applications that allows for more spontaneous engagement between learners and their teachers (Mistar & Embi, 2016). Learners in rural areas can benefit from WhatsApp as an ERT strategy if issues of accessibility and affordability are taken into consideration. 6. Recommendations The government of Zimbabwe needs to pursue diversified approaches towards implementing ERT instead of adopting a homogenous approach for the delivery of lessons in an environment characterised by variations in infrastructural and economic conditions. Strategies designed for continuity in teaching during the COVID-19 lockdown should not be taken as a permanent measure but as emergency measures that need to be implemented with speed. What is essential is having the same content delivered to learners at the same level throughout the country but not necessarily through the same modes or same approaches. Zimbabwe needs to begin by rolling out a comprehensive strategy on remote teaching. Such a strategy should include a variety of options that suit different