In a ground-breaking initiative, the Department of Higher Education and Training is using R141 million allocated by the European Union to attract and deliver more capable and effective foundation phase teachers, particularly teachers who teach in indigenous languages.
Known as the Strengthening Foundation Phase Teacher Education Programme (SFPTEP), the initiative is one of the flagship programmes of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
The Department believes that a strong teaching cadre at foundation phase leads to an improved throughput to higher education and training, the core business of DHET.
The European Union supports the programme with funding. It also works with the sector to strengthen the university teaching, a marginalised area of teacher education.
The multi-million rand programme is delivering through a range of key interventions including:
• Research, programme development and material development projects at 20 universities;
• the establishment of the South African Research Association in Early Childhood Education
• the establishment of the South African Journal of Childhood Education;
• the support of research into childhood education by providing scholarship support for honours, masters and PhD students; and
• the provision of full-cost bursaries to African language Foundation Phase students.
It is widely acknowledged that strong Foundation Phase teacher education needs to attract and develop sufficient numbers of capable teachers so that they improve the quality of teaching and learning in this phase.
The central component of this programme focuses on the ability of education faculties at universities to prepare teachers to teach in, and to teach the African languages.
In its fourth year, the programme has achieved, amongst others:
• Scholarship support for seven Honours students, 54 M Ed students and 40 PhD students;
• full-cost bursary support for 200 African language Bachelor of Education students and
• development of close to 90 academic articles: 28 journal articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals; 21 articles have been accepted for publication and 36 articles are in various stages of preparation.
Twenty universities now offer Foundation Phase initial teacher education. Of these universities involved, 14 present initial teacher education Foundation Phase programmes and six are preparing to offer these programmes.
For more information on this and other programmes, contact Dr W Green on (email) Green.W@dhet.gov.za, (telephone) 012 312 6232 or (website) www.dhet.gov.za.