Northern Cape Foundation Phase teachers equipped and ready to make a difference where it matters
When you think of the work of a university, foundation phase learning may not be the first thing that comes to mind. For North West University (NWU), however, a commitment to early schooling will have a positive effect on the caliber and abilities of the university students of the future.
NWU has a strong focus on research that benefits the community, so in 2010 the Potchefstroom Campus submitted a tender for the professional development of Foundation Phase teachers in the Northern Cape.
The requirement of the tender for an innovative programme concurred with the passion of the NWU Faculty of Education Sciences to design and deliver teacher education programmes that will indeed make a difference in the classrooms of graduating teachers. This shared dream gave impetus to the design and implementation of an additional practical component added to the Advanced Certificate in Education.
This component which requires an additional academic year, not only guides teachers in their development of applied classroom competencies but also provides the practising teachers with valuable and much needed knowledge and skills to support learners with special educational needs.
According to teachers who have completed the programme, they are now much better equipped to use the Screening Identification Assessment Support (SIAS) document in order to identify learning problems and to make informed decisions regarding the most appropriate interventions.
They are also enthusiastic about their role as agents of change in their respective schools. According to Ms Judy Passe, one of the graduates currently teaching in Pampierstad, she would like to play a role in improved education opportunities for all learners in her community by sharing her new knowledge with other teachers. Ms Lorainne Moleko, a Warrenton teacher with 16 years of teaching experience, commented that the programme forced her to reflect on her own teaching practice and changed her whole outlook on teaching. She excitedly reported that the programme gave her renewed motivation to improve her practice.
The extra effort and hard work required to complete the programme while keeping up all other teaching responsibilities is now paying off. The first intake of teachers enrolled for this bursary project received their Advanced Certificates in Education recently.
A second intake of 250 teacher-students should be completing the programme by the end of 2014 and the DBE has high expectations that the programme will help teachers to lay a solid foundation for later academic success of all learners of the Northern Cape.
This programme has been rolled out in Mpumalanga as well.