Commonweath of Learning Teacher Futures kicks off in Alice

The Commonwealth of Learning in partnership with the Department of Basic Education is supporting a teacher development programme in South Africa being implemented at the University of Fort Hare. Ten high schools in the Amathole District have been selected to participate in this three year Teacher Futures programme, which will be facilitated by SchoolNet South Africa and supported by the Eastern Cape Department of Education, another partner in this project.

This Planning Forum for the Teacher Futures initiative in South Africa took place at the University of Fort Hare Alice campus from 3 – 6 September 2018. Stakeholders who attended the Forum, included representatives from the national, provincial and district departments of education, the Nelson Mandela Institute of Education and Rural Development, all ten participating schools, the Faculty of Education and the Teaching and Learning Centre at the University of Fort Hare.

What is Teacher Futures?

The impetus for 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 with the aim of supporting school-based teacher development that can be sustained and scaled through the use of technology. 

How does Teacher Futures relate to South Africa?

The Commonwealth of Learning Teacher Futures Programme provides some content and guidelines, however, each country involved is able to able to adapt or use the content in a way that is appropriate for the context. In South Africa, digital learning was selected as a focus area for the programme and this presented an opportunity for the National Department of Basic Education’s  recently published  Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning to be presented to the planning forum by Kulula Manona and Gerald Roos of the LTSM, Policy Development and Innovation directorate.

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, the Teacher Futures programme promotes learner-centredness, problem-based learning and the contribution that communities of practice, which also feature in local policy documents and which can be supported or enhanced through the effective use of technology. 

Next steps

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.

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