Teacher development, education gets a boost

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pretoria - Educating and developing teachers will be top priority for the country's education sector in the coming years, with the recently launched Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development expected to help achieve this.

A 15-year planning framework for teacher education and development was launched on Tuesday by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga in Pretoria.

The framework - which was developed collectively by national teacher unions, the educator professional body, education bargaining council, education SETA, university education deans and Departments of Basic and Higher Education - has immediate, medium and long term priorities.

According to the Basic Education Department, the heads of schools, teachers and district subject advisors will be supported to implement the National Curriculum Statement more efficiently.

They will complete courses aimed at improving their content knowledge and will be encouraged to work together in professional learning communities to achieve better quality education.

Special attention will be given to initiatives aimed at assisting underperforming high schools and their feeder schools. 

Teacher education at university level will also be targeted; the number of institutions offering Foundation Phase teacher education will increase in coming years; and bursaries will ensure that more African language Foundation Phase teachers are recruited and trained.

New structures, including a National Institute for Curriculum and Professional Development, District Teacher Development Centres, Professional Learning Communities Teacher Education Institutions, Teaching Schools and Professional Practice Schools, will be established to provide teachers with support and access to development opportunities.

Motshekga said the framework would help address many of the challenges and quality issues that plagued the education system.

"In education, being the apex priority of government, we have no luxury to wait for the laborious drafting and finalisation of a blueprint, thus, the decision to launch a strategic planning framework while [work] continues on this front," she explained.

The framework had been development with the involvement of key stakeholders in the sector over the past 18 months, the minister added.

"Our targets on teacher development include: consistently attracting increased numbers of young qualified teachers; filling vacant posts; achieving the appropriate number of hours teachers spend in professional development activities; reducing teacher absenteeism and ensuring the full coverage of the curriculum," Motshekga said.

She called on all stakeholders to play a role in ensuring the planning framework made a substantial contribution to teacher education and development.

The minister stressed that without skilled and competent educators, there could be no quality teaching.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said the challenge now shifted from producing the framework to implementing it.

He called for the collaboration that went into developing the framework to continue into the implementation phase.

"Successful implementation relies on the extent to which we all contribute - not least teachers themselves. This is not a Department of Basic Education plan. It is not a Department of Higher Education and Training plan. It is not a teacher union plan. It is our plan. We must all work together to bring it to fruition," Nzimande added. - BuaNews