The development of appropriate teacher-training structures to train and accredit teachers and upgrade existing teaching qualifications, for the foundation phase of education, with special reference to the reception class year, in KwaZulu-Natal.
Thatcher, Colleen Barbara.
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South Africa stands on the threshold of a new era in education. The separate and fragmented model for the provision of education, which signified a policy of apartheid, is to be replaced by a single unified system. With the adoption of a new interim Constitution (1993), we have, for the first time, formal recognition of human rights, the application of which, will underlie all legislation and administration decisions (Dean in Neon, May 1994:9-10). On 31 March 1994, the 'own affairs' administrations were abolished. In accordance with the interim Constitution (1993), these structures have, however, been retained and will continue until the transition to a new dispensation takes place (Neon, May 1994:20). Progress towards achieving the goal of a unified education system includes, inter alia, the creation of a Department of Education and Training at a national level, as well as the creation of provincial administrations in 9 provinces, each of which will have its own education department (Neon, June 1994:1). The new government stands committed to early childhood development. The care and development of infants and young children is seen to be the foundation of social relations and the starting point of a national human resource development strategy. Policy proposals outlined by the Department of Education in the Draft White Paper recommend that: “The care and development of infants and young children must be the foundation of social relations and the starting point of a national human resource development strategy ..... The new national department is planned to have a directorate for Early Childhood Development and Lower Primary Education, in the light of continuity in developmental approaches to the young child and the need for a reshaping of curricula and teaching methodology for the early years of school …… The year 1995 should be used mainly for planning the development of the reception year……” (Republic of South Africa, 1994:20). As far back as 1981, the De Lange Commission stated that without a corps of well-trained and talented teachers, any attempts aimed at realizing the potential of a country's inhabitants, improving the quality of life of its citizens, promoting economic growth and providing an equal system of education, cannot be successful. No other single factor determines to such an extent the quality of education in a country, as the quality of the corps of its teachers (HSRC, 1981:59 & 180). It is anticipated that the demand for teachers is likely to increase as a result of the phasing-in of compulsory education commencing with the class one child, the introduction of a reception class year, reduction of class sizes to 40 pupils and the enrolment of out-of-school children. Trained manpower will prove to be a major problem and an accelerated programme of teacher education to meet quantitative needs, without compromising quality, will be essential, in order to successfully implement a reception class year, ensure a better distribution of qualified teachers and cater for ever-increasing numbers of school-going children. Major structural changes will, therefore, be needed in the preparation and development of teachers. It is within the context of this background information, that this study has been conducted, namely to develop appropriate teacher-training structures for the foundation phase of education, with particular reference to the reception class year. The specific purposes of the study were:- * to review pre-primary provision; * to review current teacher-training structures and assess priorities and needs for developing appropriate methods of professional training; * to compare pre-primary provision and teacher-training policy with that of developing and developed countries; * to develop strategies to train and accredit teachers through a shortened PRESET structure; * to upgrade existing teacher qualifications through an approved INSET structure; * to analyse the feasibility of the proposed strategies for the KwaZulu-Natal region. The study involved an analysis of the NEPI sectoral reports on Early Childhood Educare and Teacher Education, the ERS and the KwaZulu-Natal Interdepartmental Working Groups' Discussion Documents. In addition, other relevant reports and working papers have also been consulted. Viable options for the training of teachers for the foundation phase of education which emerged from the study were: * the establishment of links between non-formal and formal training programmes; * the development of a modular career path for the coordinated training of teachers through INSET; * the development of a 5-year plan for the phasing in of qualified teachers through PRESET and INSET; * the development of an appropriate course structure; * an outline of governance and control. The main recommendations made in the study include the following:- * the obtaining of a Reception Class Diploma which will allow experienced educare workers to obtain a formally-recognised diploma in reception class education, part-time, whilst currently employed as a teacher; * the recognition of such a diploma should the student not wish to study further; * the upgrading and revitalising of lower primary school teachers currently in service; * the obtaining of a 3-year diploma through an inverted '2+2' teacher-training model which will, inter alia, allow the student to obtain 'on the job' training whilst studying on a part-time basis; * a simplified qualifications structure; * the implementation of a 5-year plan for the phasing-in of qualified teachers; * a collaborative strategy with accredited NGOs who will assist with the training of teachers * a modularised curriculum * the establishment of a Resource and Training Centre for teachers.
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