BACKGROUND : The Global Competitiveness report shows that the quality of primary
education in South Africa ranks 132 out of 144 countries. Statistics released by the
Department of Basic Education in South Africa reveal that the average mark for Grade 3
learners in the Annual National Assessment (ANA) was 35% for literacy and 28% for
AIM : We seek in this article to share the voices of the Foundation Phase heads of departments
(HoDs) regarding their motivational roles and responsibilities in learner performance. We
also aim to understand their role in tandem with other contributors, as well as all stakeholders
in the Department of Basic Education who are responsible for teacher development and
SETTING : Ehlanzeni, Bohlabela, Gert Sibande and Nkangala in Mpumalanga.
METHODS : A quantitative research approach was used, where questionnaires were distributed
to 274 Foundation Phase HoDs in all four districts in Mpumalanga.
RESULTS : The findings indicate that HoDs have a moderate perception of their responsibility
in motivating learners; moreover, they do not recognise the role of parents as motivators of
learners. They seem too busy teaching in their classrooms and lack the time and skill of
supervising their subordinates and involving parents in the education tripod. The legislative
framework (PAM document), it can be argued, does not allow sufficient time for HoDs to
efficiently perform their tasks.
CONCLUSION : Retraining of HoDs to work collaboratively with teachers and parents will
enhance the quality of schooling offered in South Africa.