The quality of teaching in Grade R classes, especially in rural areas, is set to improve with the graduation of 784 newly qualified teachers.
The first graduation ceremony was held in Mthatha yesterday with 496 graduates.
Today 288 teachers will receive their diplomas in East London.
Of the Mthatha graduates, Seyamiso Nduva received applause from the entire hall as he was the only male teacher – something he said tells of how much he loves children and their development.
The graduation comes as a result of a partnership between the provincial department of education and private higher education institution SANTS.
Together, they headed an initiative in 2014 to address the quality of early childhood development (ECD) by ensuring that all in-service Grade R teachers are adequately qualified.
Provincial education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said the graduation of the teachers was a step towards lifting the level of caregivers beyond being ‘practitioners’ to being fully qualified teachers with a fully recognised qualification.
“This is a proud moment for the department because our course is to improve learner skills at the foundation stage, because we believe if you invest in the early stages of a pupil’s life, this will have positive rewards in the end,” said Mtima. He said 1070 students had registered for the Grade R teaching diploma programme during the second semester of 2014 at 24 support centres across 20 districts of this province.
These newly qualified Grade R teachers comprise both in-service practitioners and ECD district coordinators.
The department provided bursaries for these students for the duration of their studies at SANTS Private Higher Education Institution.
Mtima said the SANTS diploma in Grade R teaching programme has been recognised by the Department of Higher Education and Training for employment in education and accredited by the Council on Higher Education, as well as being registered with the South African Qualification Authority.
“Beyond the diploma in Grade R teaching, candidates who are successful are able to further upgrade to qualify for the B Ed Foundation Phase Teaching programme,” said Mtima.
Professor Jean Baxen, SANTS’ executive academic director, emphasised that teaching was not merely about knowing content but about knowing how to take the content and reproduce it in a way that produces optimal learning outcomes for all children.
“Teachers have to balance living life to the fullest, while at the same time being role models,” said Baxen. — firstname.lastname@example.org