Various Qualification Ceremonies took place across South Africa the past month. A total of 1 114 student teachers graduated from either a Diploma in Grade R Teaching, B Ed Foundation or Intermediate Phase programme in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu- Natal, Gauteng and Free State. The majority of these Newly Qualified Teachers were Departmental Bursary Holders of the Eastern Cape and Gauteng Department of Education.
The Eastern Cape Department of Education has increasingly invested in the quality of Early Childhood Development in the province by ensuring that all in- service Grade R teachers are adequately qualified. Thus, effectively elevating the quality of teaching in Grade R classes, specifically in the vast rural parts of the Eastern Cape where the greatest need exists for quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes. A total of 784 Grade R Teacher graduated in 2017 in this province. An additional 90 ECD in-service practitioners graduated recently with a third group scheduled for 2019.
In partnership with the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE), the Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership and Governance (MGSLG), funded this cohort of in-service student teachers for the duration of their studies at SANTS. MGSLG is a section 21 Company (non-profit organization) and an agency of the Gauteng Department and as such co-managed the implementation of the programme together with SANTS. Just more than a thousand students registered for the Diploma in Grade R Teaching programme during the first semester of 2015. This initiative was rolled out across 25 districts of this province. A total of 706 student teachers graduands completed the qualification in the minimum period of three years.
SANTS, as a Distance Higher Education Institution, provide teacher education qualifications across South Africa. The Diploma in Grade R Teaching has been approved and recognised by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) on an NQF Level 6. Graduands will be qualified and recognised teachers who will be able to teach Grade R learners in formal schooling. Furthermore, the B Ed Foundation and Intermediate Phase programmes are approved by the DHET for employment purposes.
Professor Jean Baxen, SANTS’ Executive Academic Director, emphasizes that teaching is not merely about knowing the content. Rather, it is about knowing how to take the content and reproduce it in a way that produces optimal learning outcomes for all children irrespective of race, class, gender, cultural heritage, and sexual orientation. Teachers have to balance living life to the fullest, while at the same time being role models in schools, classes, and communities. Teachers also don’t know everything and will continue to learn throughout their careers. Prof Baxen adds that South Africa needs resilient, flexible, adaptive, and passionate teachers who are prepared to navigate contextual realities to produce learning that offers children hope and possibility.