On 25 November 2016, the DBE, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the University of South Africa (UNISA) launched a partnership on Teacher Development Centres at the Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership and Governance in Benoni. This partnership will help the Department to strengthen digital education across all nine provinces. This partnership to equip 45 teacher centres with various ICT resources was launched to digitise learning and teaching in schools in order to equip educators and learners with the Information and Commutation Technology (ICT) skills required for adapting to the 21st Century school environment.
The Director for Curriculum and Teacher Development Research at the DBE, Dr Aaron Nkosi, said that the partnership between the DHET and UNISA will assist the Department in accelerating the ICT connectivity in schools. A total of 147 centres have been established to date, with 115 of these centres already fully functional with ICT and video conferencing facilities.
Addressing delegates, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty, mentioned that, “It is within this context that we have been prioritising teacher development. Our first step was the re-training of the 131 Teacher Training Centre Managers and E-Learning specialists, including 40 Teacher Centres supported by Vodacom. Teacher Centres is a new term that we are using to refer to District Teacher Development Centres and Provincial Teacher Development Institutes. We did the re-training because we firmly hold a view that the classroom is the centre piece of learning and teaching, and at the core of this learning and teaching is a competent and confident teacher. Teachers are the backbone of any functional education system. It is within this context that we decided that the best way to deliver quality education was to continuously upgrade the content knowledge of those who train other teachers”.
The Deputy Minister further explained that the Department has begun to prepare the full utilisation of these platforms for teacher development. A total of 155 Teacher Centre Managers and E-Learning specialists from all provinces are currently completing a blended learning course at the University of Johannesburg on Managing and leading digital technologies in education. The provincial graduation ceremonies will be taking place during 2017.
The Department has further expanded the scope of teacher development through the transformation of 10 Teacher Centres into Microsoft Imagine Academies. The Microsoft Imagine Academy provides a SACE-accredited and international certified course, Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) to all educators. The Imagine Academies are aimed at offering technical courses for students and unemployed youth who are interested in pursuing a career in IT after graduation. Through the Academies, the DBE has also partnered with UNICEF, Vodacom and the MICT Seta to secure the training and internship for 35 youths who are stationed at the District Teacher Development Centres for a one-year period. These youth have already undergone dedicated certified training and have proceeded to train hundreds of youth and teachers at these Teacher Centres already. The Academies also provide a mechanism through which thousands of teachers and youth can become certified and skilled in the integration of digital technologies. These international certifications are also credited on the local NQF framework under the End-User Computing qualification.
The Department will also be embarking on an in-service training programme to capacitate 150 000 Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners and Foundation Phase educators in play-based learning pedagogies and practice from January 2017 to November 2018. The implementation of this programme will introduce a new era for training in ECD, using a combination of face-to-face and online training through an e-learning platform at Teacher Centres. “We shall spare neither strength nor courage in ensuring that every South African teacher has access to ICT infrastructure for accelerated teaching and learning tools,” concluded the Deputy Minister.