Aligned to the National Development Plan (NDP) goals, Zenex’s Strategy 2025 aims to improve learner performance in African languages and mathematics in the early grades. Critical to this strategy is the investment and support in the training of teachers in the Foundation Phase. Student-teacher internships are a key strategic lever to achieve this objective, especially by supporting Foundation Phase student-teachers that are studying via distance education.
Zenex has accumulated extensive evidence and knowledge on student-teacher internships, having supported three pilot student-teacher internship models. Teach SA was the first model initiated in 2009, which placed new graduates in public schools for one year while studying for a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). In 2011 Zenex supported the Independent School Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) where students doing full-time distance education were placed in independent schools for four years.
Zenex has supported The Khanyisa Inanda Community Project (KICP) which places student-teacher interns who are in their third year of study in public schools for two years. In 2016 the first cohort of teacher interns were placed in the Zenex Literacy Project schools in iLembe district, KwaZulu-Natal. The KICP internship is provided to students who are studying through UNISA. The project is designed to improve the quality of these student-teachers’ practice by placing them in public schools. It also provides them with academic support as well as pedagogical and content knowledge skills.
The KICP programme targets student-teachers engaging in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) through distance learning while placed as full-time student-teachers in public schools. The KICP project is part of the larger Teacher Internship Collaboration South Africa (TICZA). TICZA is a multi-stakeholder partnership that consists of the Department of Basic Education (DBE), the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)), funders, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), teacher unions, academic institutions, and the private sector. The collaboration aims to position teacher internships as a viable, scalable ITE option. TICZA is interested in systemic change and seeks to establish and demonstrate the efficiencies and impact of teacher internships as a credible and widely used alternative ITE pathway for distance education.
Since 2016, KICP has been responsible for the successful graduation of more than 80 student-teachers. KICP currently offers ITE support to 61 teacher-interns in KwaZulu-Natal, funded by the following organisations:
- Federated Employers Mutual Assurance,
- Global Teachers Institute (GTI),
- Grindrod Family Centenary Trust (GFCT),
- Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF),
- The Zenex Foundation
The KICP project has the following objectives:
- The KICP project is part of the larger TICZA initiative, with the specific goal to scale up the project with a cohort of 50 interns.
- Test the effectiveness of the KICP model and develop a funding model.
- Develop the essential basket of support and dosage required to produce high-quality teachers in the Foundation Phase.
The KICP model has three areas of support which are critical for supporting student-teachers to become high-quality teachers. This support if offered by both external providers and KICP staff. The areas of support include:
- Personal Development comprising self-knowledge, resilience, reflection and self-discipline practice.
- Academic Support comprising tutoring and monitoring, time-management, and administration.
- Instructional Practice which includes workshops, conferences, summits, lesson observations by KICP staff, training for school-based mentors (academic, pastoral, whole-school, innovative teaching techniques and classroom-management systems and routines).
The implementation phase will start in 2022 with a cohort of 50 student-teachers participating in the internship. Students will be in their third year of study and will remain in the programme for two years. This phase will see the rollout of the project as follows:
- Placement of student-teachers in schools,
- Monitoring the daily activities of the interns who will be at the selected schools four days a week,
- Visits to schools by KICP staff to support the interns; and
- Teacher mentor training and support.
Over the periods of January 2022 to December 2023, the primary outcome of the KICP will be to produce 50 well-trained Foundation Phase teachers as well as contribute to the TICZA goal of developing a large sustainable model for system uptake by universities and government.
The KICP model, implemented with the Zenex Foundation, has shown the benefits of supporting student-teachers in a holistic manner for placement in public schools. They have been among a few trailblazers opting to build a model that will benefit the public schooling sector and the thousands of learners in impoverished communities that attend those schools.