We thought you would find the below article from the front-page of the Sunday Times dated 25 July 2010, of interest.
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Back to school for teachers
Jul 25, 2010 12:00 AM | By Prega Govender
A radical proposal to double the number of new teachers – and force more than 30000 principals, deputy principals and educators to upgrade their qualifications – aims to “go to the heart of repairing the education system”.
The R1.4-billion teacher education and development plan, which is expected to increase the number of graduate teachers from 6000 to 12000 within the next four years, is being studied by the minister of higher education and training, Blade Nzimande, and the minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga.
Nzimande’s spokesman, Ranjeni Munusamy, said there would be a strong partnership between the departments.
“He intends to meet Motshekga very soon to discuss the plan,” said Munusamy, as it “goes to the heart of repairing the education system”.
The broad features of the 15-year national strategy proposal include:
- Establishing faculties at the new universities proposed for Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape to attract more students from these provinces to pursue a teaching career;
- Opening new teacher education institutions by 2020, where necessary, and creating “decentralised teaching sites” at some of the former 102 teacher training colleges that were closed several decades ago;
- Creating state-of-the-art teaching schools close to universities, which would be similar to teaching hospitals for medical students, to improve the quality of graduates entering the profession;
- Selecting 8000 principals and deputy principals over the next five years to complete a new qualification, the Ace School Leadership programme, at 16 universities and encouraging 20000 unqualified teachers to complete a one-year postgraduate certificate;
- Establishing a National Centre for Professional Development (NCPD), under the auspices of the basic education department, which will develop subject-based “teacher learning committees” for teachers to exchange ideas and good teaching practice; and
- Encouraging teachers to accumulate at least 150 points over a three-year cycle by completing professional development activities and programmes such as assisting in the school feeding scheme.
The points, which would be recorded by the South African Council for Educators on a national database, could be used for promotion.
The Department of Basic Education is also planning to drastically increase the amount set aside for bursaries to student teachers to R500-million.
Provincial education departments will be urging at least 10000 underqualified teachers to complete the four-year teaching degree, and those who don’t qualify for admission will be asked to take over administrative posts.
The project, which will be funded by provincial budgets and the skills development budget, has been widely welcomed by stakeholders.
Diane Parker, chief director of teacher education in the Department of Higher Education and Training, said two dedicated teaching schools, a primary and a high school, would be earmarked for each university and would be staffed by top teachers.
“The plan is not to turn these schools into outrageous institutions not linked to South African reality. Like the teaching hospital, students at the teaching school would be exposed to the best teaching practices,” she said.
Motshekga said it was a drastic departure from past policy, which left the responsibility for teacher education and development to provinces.
She and Nzimande want a clear memorandum of understanding drawn up between the departments and higher education institutions.
“We think we need to guide them on what we think are the facts and provide ongoing feedback on the quality of teachers that are being produced.”