Today we celebrate the graduation of 258 newly qualified Grade R teachers in the Eastern Cape.
The Eastern Cape Department of Education is directly addressing the quality of Early Childhood Development by ensuring that 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.
ECD has been recognised as critical for establishing the foundation of academic success, particularly for young children from disadvantaged backgrounds associated with limited access to quality ECD programmes. The early years are crucial for the acquisition of concepts, skills and attitudes that lay the foundation for lifelong learning. These include the acquisition of language, perceptual-motor skills required for learning to read and write, basic numeracy concepts and skills, problem-solving skills and keenness for learning.
Government has also begun to address the quality of teachers and Initial Teacher Education programmes by implementing the policy on the minimum requirements for teachers, namely The Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education Qualifications (DHET; 2011 and 2015). This specific document explicitly stipulates that the minimum qualification for a qualified professional Grade R Teacher in South Africa is either a Diploma in Grade R Teaching or a Bachelor of Education in the Foundation Phase Teaching qualification.
The cohort of students registered for the Diploma in Grade R Teaching programme at SANTS Private Higher Education Institution during the second semester of 2016 at across 20 districts of this province. These graduands comprise out of in-service practitioners and ECD district coordinators. The Eastern Cape Department of Education (EC DoE) provided bursaries for these students for the duration of their studies at SANTS. Graduands will be qualified and recognised teachers who will be able to teach Grade R learners in formal schooling.
In South Africa, the 8 million children in the age range 0-6 years constitute 15% of the entire South African population. Professor Ina Joubert, SANTS’ Executive Academic Director, emphasizes that if we as a nation depend on our youth to ensure and sustain the change we need to safeguard a prosperous democratic dispensation, this age group necessitates special and unceasing attention. SANTS prides itself as a Higher Education Institution to deliver quality teaching programmes to young children throughout South Africa, especially in the rural areas of South Africa. Furthermore, 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.
With this student cohort drawn from predominantly demographically marginalized communities in South Africa, the Eastern Cape Department of Education and SANTS addresses the skills, access, equity, and education quality and needs of the Eastern Cape