Working as a unit: Dr Lydia Abel would like the Schools Development Unit to optimise the varied expertise it has to offer.
AS THE new Director of the Schools Development unit (SDU), Dr Lydia Abel plans to capitalise on the unique combination of skills within the unit to maximise the its contribution to school development in general and teacher support in particular.
A UCT science and dietetics graduate, Abel returned to her alma mater in the middle of February after a lengthy interlude. During her "absence" she worked as, among other things, scientific researcher at Groote Schuur Hospital, teacher, school principal, and head of research and development at a local NGO. She also completed a Masters and Doctoral degree in cognitive education at the University of the Western Cape.
More recently, she has been Co-ordinator of the Foundation Phase on the National Task Team for the strengthening and streamlining of Curriculum 2005, and participated in the Western Cape Education Department's E-learning initiative.
Her move to SDU, Abel says, is an ideal opportunity to marry her own "particular holistic approach to education, which is underpinned by specialist knowledge and a particular interest in cognitive development with the SDU's learning area specific skills in science, mathematics, life-skills and literacy". The unit, she feels, is set to play a pivotal role in maximizing school improvement in the region and elsewhere.
She would also like to see the SDU placed in a position at the University where its expertise is recognised. Ambitiously, she intends to build links with other institutions around the continent.
"There are lessons for us to learn, but there are also lessons for us to share," she said.