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Funza Lushaka continues to recruit vibrant young teachers

The Funza Lushaka bursary programme aims to fund 25% of students enrolled at public Higher Education Institutions for recognised initial teacher education programmes, namely Bachelors in Education (BEd) or a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). The Funza Lushaka bursary programme is not a financial aid programme for students but a merit bursary programme. The DBE and the basic education sector ustilises the programme to address critical teacher shortages in specified subject areas and school phases.

The Funza Lushaka bursary programme was established in 2007 as part of the many efforts to address teacher supply and demand challenges in the basic education sector. Since 2007 more than 91,267 Funza Lushaka bursary awards have been made. During the 2015/16 financial year 13,980 bursaries were awarded. An analysis of these awarded bursaries show that 2,576 students were in their first year while 4,616 students were in their fourth year of study. The lower number of first year bursary holders are attributed to the fact that the Funza Lushaka bursary has to maintain a larger number of existing students while fewer bursaries are available for new applicants. The National Treasury has allocated R1,043,611.00 for the 2016/17 financial year. This amount will be sufficient to fund approximately 14,000 students during the 2016 academic year.  The Funza Lushaka bursary programme processed 51,220 applications by 16 January 2016 for the available 4,000 bursaries for new applicants for the 2016 academic year.

The district and community-based teacher recruitment campaign of the Department has focused, amongst others, on attracting prospective Mathematics, Science and Technology teachers. Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) have selected prospective candidates and submitted approved lists to the DBE. The focus is on both Grade 12 learners and out-of-school youth. PEDs are working closely with the universities to assist learners to apply and ensure that Funza Lushaka phase and subject priority bursaries, as well as university admission requirements, are met. District and community based teacher recruitment campaigns target schools in districts where there are teacher shortages on the condition that students recruited from these schools will go back to teach in those schools.

The Funza Lushaka bursary programme has, amongst other programmes, contributed to a substantial increase in the uptake of initial teacher education programmes at universities. In recent years, attention has turned from concern over having a sufficient number of teachers to a concern about having a sufficient number of quality teachers. Thus, recruiting academically successful university students into teaching, preparing them well for the challenges of teaching, and retaining them in the profession have all become key goals in helping students achieve high academic standards.

Funza Lushaka bursary holders sign a Bursary Agreement at the beginning of every year of being awarded the bursary. The agreement sets out the conditions for being awarded the bursary. A key feature of the Funza Lushaka bursary programme is that it is linked to a service obligation upon completion of a teaching qualification. This means that after graduation a Funza Lushaka bursary holder must immediately assume a teaching position in a public school. Graduates are placed by a provincial education department to teach in a public school in which a teacher is needed. Each year of service will repay one full-time year of bursary-assisted study. Placement cannot be deferred for any reason and graduates can be placed anywhere in the province, or even in the country.

The programme needs to, in particular, focus on the recruitment of Foundation Phase teachers who are able to teach in an African Language. The emphasis on Technical Schools through the introduction of the Technical Caps also requires that the Funza Lushaka programme attract an increasing number of teachers for subject areas such as Technical Maths, Technical Science, Engineering, Graphics and Design, Mechanical Technology, Electrical Technology, etc.

Applications for the Funza Lushaka bursary for the 2017 academic year will open on 1 October 2016. All applications must be made online at www.funzalushaka.doe.gov.za. All new bursary applicants and returning students must apply for the bursary online.

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