The Commonwealth of Learning Teacher Futures Programme
The Commonwealth of Learning in partnership with the Department of Basic Education is supporting a teacher development programme in South Africa. The Eastern Cape Department of Education is another partner in the programme being implemented at the University of Fort Hare. Ten high schools in the Amathole District have been selected to participate in this three year programme. SchoolNet South Africa has been appointed by the Commonwealth of Learning to facilitate the planning process. The Commonwealth of Learning programme is called Teacher Futures and while there is content provided and some guidelines, each Commonwealth country involved is able to adapt the content or determine the most appropriate content for themselves.
In South Africa the expressed need has been for teacher professional development in digital learning. It was therefore, most relevant that the national department have recently published a Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning and provided two workshops and presentations on the relevance of the framework at the first planning forum.
This Planning Forum for the Teacher Futures initiative in South Africa has been held at the Alice campus of the University from 3rd – 6th September 2018 involving all stakeholders. This Planning Forum was organized and coordinated by Dr. Winston Hendricks in the Education Faculty, and Ms. Siyanda Ntlabathi in the Teaching and Learning Centre at the University of Fort Hare.
These stakeholders include Ms. Kulula Manona Director LTSM, Policy Development and Innovation as well as Mr. Gerald Roos from the same directorate of the Department of Basic Education, Provincial Eastern Cape departmental representatives, Dr. Drik Greef, Ms. Nobubele Ma’Awu and Mr. Mfana Cele, as well as district personnel, Ms. Zuki Ndamase and Ms. Lizeka Pango.
Dr Kim Porteus represented the Nelson Mandela Institute of Education and Rural Development. All ten schools were represented as was the Faculty of Education and the Teaching and Learning Centre at the University of Fort Hare.
Ms. Kulula Manona, National Director LTSM, Policy Development and Innovation, DBE
The impetus for the conceptualization of the Teacher Futures professional development programme came from the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals and specifically Goal 4 around quality education and increasing the supply of qualified teachers. The overarching theme, of learning for sustainable development, features throughout the Teacher Futures programme.
The strategy of the Teacher Futures programme is to support school-based teacher development (SBTD) that can be sustained and scaled with an enabling environment through the use of technology. Aligned to these broad aims, the Teacher Futures programme has a number of other central pillars, namely: Learner-centredness, problem-based learning and the contribution that communities of practice can make to successful professional development.
Ms. Zuki Ndamase, Amathole District Office, Department of Education, Eastern Cape.
Delegates were surprised to discover that the Teacher Futures programme is closely aligned to both the principles of learning at the University as well as the Framework for Digital Learning. For example, all concepts overlap and are related to technology enhanced learning as well as aspects such as Microlearning. Communities of practice are supported through technology, learner-centredness is promoted through problem-based learning, and problem-based learning is enhanced through the effective use of technology.
The outcome of this forum will be to familiarize all stakeholders with the pillars of the Teacher Futures programme, to then plot a pathway for local high school teachers to benefit from increased resources and support from UFH and to design relevant professional development qualifications and short courses.