As we recently acknowledged National Teachers’ Month (5 September – 5 October 2019), which this year carried the theme “Young teachers: The future of the profession’, we were reminded of how important teacher quality is given the challenges we face with our country’s education system.
The quality of our teachers directly impacts the learning outcomes and experiences of our school children. South Africa needs professional and experienced teachers who can truly make a difference, especially in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector.
This year, 30 qualified ECD teachers have been receiving in-depth teacher training and professional work experience at GROW Educare Centres in Cape Town, all thanks to a collaborative partnership between YES for Youth, and GROW Educare Centres.
“A solid early learning programme and fantastic equipment alone cannot address the crisis in the country’s early childhood development sector. The challenge requires resources matched to dedicated and trained teachers, and the YES/GROW teacher internship programme forms an essential part of the solution,” said Tracey Chambers the CEO of GROW Educare Centres.
As a non-profit organisation, GROW Educare Centres (GROW) provide women living in disadvantaged communities the opportunity to run private, fee-paying early learning centres that are also viable businesses using the principles of social franchising. They currently have 29 centres in operation across Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.
“We are particularly grateful to Nestlé for providing funding for the programme as part of their value-creation and sustainability strategy. The project has already seen teacher interns picking the fruits of their labour and adding significant value to the ECD centres where they are working.” added Chambers.
Youth Employment Service (YES) is a collaborative South African economic enabler that acts as an “engine of jobs creation”. Under the YES programme, businesses create one-year paid internship positions for unemployed youth aged between 18 and 35 with a minimum paid stipend, all with the aim of providing high-quality work-experience, continued professional development and highly employable youth. The result: improved youth employability and bolstered business economic activity.
Through the internship process, GROW has helped interns to individually identify their professional career path and future career goals. These paths include application at current GROW centres for employment or further academic studies in particular fields such as special needs.
However, it is not only the interns that have gained from the initiative as various GROW centres have also progressed tremendously. “The child-to-teacher ratio has increased in each centre; we’ve been able to provide additional training for existing ECD centre teachers during the work-week without compromising on child-teacher ratios and quality of education, and most importantly, the children at each centre have benefited,” added Chambers.