Independent Education Spring 2020

Independent Education • Spring 20 60 A call to action! Part two BY CATHY FRY 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). N elson 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 three- to 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 credits 7 • 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 a call to action Too many graduates in South Africa are without jobs