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A call to action! Part two

| November 5, 2020 | 0 Comments


In part one of this article, featured in our autumn 2020 edition (Independent Education, volume 23, number one), Cathy Fry, managing director of Ukhanyiso Ebantwini, discussed how independent schools might become involved with the British Council Connecting Classrooms IV programme. Here, she describes the Sponsor a Teacher initiative and the accredited work-readiness programmes with Human Resources Support Solutions (HRSS).

Nelson Mandela said: ‘Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth who care for and protect our people.’1 In 2019, David Harrison, CEO of the DG Murray Trust, reinforced this statement, writing in the Cape Times: ‘Early childhood development [ECD] is recognised as the most powerful investment in human capital that a country can make. Early childhood experiences have a profound impact on brain development affecting learning, health, behaviour and ultimately lifetime opportunities.’2

When planning the 2017/18 budget, the government allocated R246 billion to basic education in South Africa,3 but out of that, only 1–2% was spent on ECD.4 Only half of threeto four-year-olds in this country participate in any early learning programme, and only 50% of those attend programmes of sufficient quality.5

A two-part programme

The Sponsor a Teacher programme has been created by Ukhanyiso Ebantwini, an organisation based in Johannesburg, Gauteng, which aims ‘to improve the education and the development of young people in South Africa, through consultation, mentorship, accredited school leadership development, accredited work readiness programmes, skills development, continuous professional teacher development, and learning innovations’.6

The Sponsor a Teacher programme has two parts:

1.Growing good teachers

The first part of the programme is designed to assist ECD teachers to further their qualifications by enabling them to register per unit standard as and when they can afford to, or when they have time to study, i.e.:

• Higher Certificate: Early Childhood Development, South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) ID 64649 Level 5 – 120 credits7

• National Diploma: Early Childhood Development, SAQA ID 64650 Level 5 – 240 credits.8

These qualifications are designed to provide access to higher education – i.e. the Diploma in Grade R Teaching, National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 6 – for experienced and skilled ECD practitioners who do not have recognised qualifications, and to develop these practitioners to provide appropriate education, training and development services in the ECD field.

This part of the Sponsor a Teacher programme will be facilitated by experienced and qualified ECD teachers, who will also mentor these teachers over this two- to three-year period through webinars, individual coaching and visits to schools.

2. Developing sound school leadership

The second part of the Sponsor a Teacher programme is about developing school leadership and management in state schools in South Africa. Researcher Parvathy Naidoo states: ‘One of the reasons attributed to the continuous decline in student performance and low educational outcomes in public schools, is the poor leadership displayed by many principals… two crucial issues come to the fore. Firstly, there are no stringent criteria for the appointment of principals, except that the applicant should hold a teachers’ diploma or degree, and have at least seven years’ teaching experience.’9 Naidoo draws on other research findings to say that second, there is no prerequisite professional qualification for aspiring teachers to take up principalship posts.10

South Africa needs highly qualified principals who can not only create an environment for effective teaching and learning, but who can also promote the school in the community as an institution of learning excellence. The Standards for Principalship policy was published by the Department of Basic Education in 2015.11 In it, the government defines the roles of public school principals, as well as the key aspects of the professionalism, image and competencies required of school principals. The Occupational Certificate: School Principal (School Manager)12 qualification has been designed to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and practices that give effect to the Standards for Principalship.13

This part of the Sponsor a Teacher programme will be facilitated by experienced and qualified school leaders or small business owners, and will also include mentorship, webinars, individual coaching and visits to schools.

Small business, schools and corporates can earn Skills Development points14 if they invest 6% of their payroll in the training of black people. Another four points can be received if companies spend 0.3% of their payroll on learning programmes for disabled, black employees. Donations made to Ekukhanyeni Community Development College are exempt from donations tax in terms of Section 56 (1) (h) of the Income Tax Act.15

What if…

What if independent schools in South Africa contributed to the improvement of teaching and learning in South African state schools by:

• sponsoring ECD teachers from a local school to undergo this training?

• providing an opportunity for these sponsored teachers to spend time in their ECD centres to observe best practice?

• sponsoring a school leader from one of the schools in their community to attend the school managers’ training?

• providing mentorship for school leaders in a particular area of expertise?

Accredited work-readiness programmes with Human Resources Support Solutions (HRSS)

Youth unemployment is a critical issue, not only in South Africa but also globally.16 Young people aged 15–24 years are the most vulnerable in the South African labour market, as the unemployment rate among this age group reached 55.2%17 in the first quarter of 2019.18 Lack of work readiness is widely recognised as a major barrier to getting youth into employment. Online source defines work readiness thus: ‘To be “work ready” means to possess and be able to apply the skills, mind-set and attributes required by modern business in order to make a meaningful contribution to the organisation.’19 However, many employers are realising that graduates and new recruits in the workplace are often not equipped to handle the day-to-day pressures of work life or workplace expectations.20

HRSS, based in Benoni, Gauteng, states that its mission is: ‘To be the unique national provider of paid internships and work integrated learning opportunities for the youth, through public private partnerships.’21 HRSS provides Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA)-accredited22 work-readiness programmes for technical and vocational education and training (TVET)23 students, as well as graduates, for a period of 12–18 months. The work-readiness programme is combined with a mentorship programme and ongoing support from HRSS in the workplace. The programme provides the tools and skills needed to complement the knowledge that young people have already acquired in TVET colleges or tertiary institutions, e.g. academic skills, critical thinking skills and personal development skills. HRSS ensures that:

• the youth benefit from work-readiness training, paid internship and work-integrated learning opportunities

• the private sector benefits from contributing to its various communities whilst gaining broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) points24

• the public sector benefits from a driver of economic transformation and implementation of the National Skills Development Strategy.25

What if…

• ISASA corporate associates contributed to the work readiness of South African youth by sponsoring young people to participate in the HRSS work-readiness programme?

• ISASA corporate associates spread the word about this work-readiness programme and encouraged other organisations to invest in HRSS to reduce unemployment and contribute to the growth of the South African economy?

• ISASA corporate associates employ graduates who have worked through the HRSS programme and would benefit from workplace experience?

Whatever you decide to do, remember what Jane Goodall said: ‘What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.’26 !


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  4. See: file:///C:/Users/Fiona/Downloads/WPIEA2019047.pdf
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  8. Ibid.
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  10. Ibid.
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  17. Ibid.
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Category: Spring 2020

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