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Primary Teacher Education Project



A multi-year project on Initial Teacher Education (ITE) aimed at improving performance in Mathematics and literacy at primary level through teacher graduates with competence to work with children to develop their language/literacy and Mathematical competencies at the appropriate level.


Name of organisation/service provider: Department of Higher Education and Training, JET Education Services

Duration of Project: 2016 – 2020

Programme: Systemic Programme

Where is the Project based: National



This is a multi-year project on Initial Teacher Education (ITE) for Literacy and Mathematics teachers. The project is funded by the European Union (EU) in a bilateral partnership with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). The Zenex Foundation funds the function of the National Coordination and Management Body, which will be located at JET Education Services for the duration of the five-year project, and will provide Project Management services.

The aim of the project is to improve performance in Mathematics and Literacy in the education system through teacher graduates with competence to work with children to develop their Language/Literacy and Mathematical competencies at the appropriate level. The objectives of the projects are:

  1. To ensure the smooth management of a multi-stakeholder, multi-year research project.
  2. To develop a national ITE curriculum in Literacy and Mathematics.
  3. To support universities to develop strengthened BEd programmes.
  4. To increase the pool of properly trained research graduates.

Challenges to be addressed

Primary education is in crisis in South Africa. Research reports conducted by the Council for Higher Education, JET Education Services and the two Departments of Education have concluded that amongst other reasons, the current Initial Teacher Education (ITE) provisioning is a major contributor to the poor performance.

The concerns in ITE include the content of modules; the underlying logic and coherence resulting in variations amongst universities; the significant variation in teaching practice, quality and quantity. The entrance requirements also vary and are low (in comparison to other professions).

The PrimTEd project has been designed to address these serious concerns in a comprehensive manner. The project is a component of DHET Teaching and Learning Development Capacity Improvement Programme (TLDCIP).

Details of the project

The project involves the Departments of Education, universities and researchers who, over the course of the project through five discipline-based Working Groups, will produce:

  • Teaching standards (knowledge and practice standards/competence standards) for the component of Mathematics or language/literacy teachers that are the focus of the Working Groups.
  • Curriculum frameworks for the respective components based on teaching standards. Curriculum frameworks are guidelines which indicate how the component should be addressed in ITE programmes for primary teachers.
  • Well-designed comprehensive courses and materials that support the delivery of the language/literacy and Mathematics components of ITE programmes for primary school teachers, including the work-integrated learning component of the programmes.
  • Assessment tools that enable the reliable assessment of ITE students and newly qualified teachers’ ability/competence to teach children to read, write and do Mathematics, including assessment tools that can be used in the work-integrated learning component of ITE programmes.
  • Capacity development opportunities for teacher education academics involved in these two areas of primary teacher education.

This is a critical project, initiated by the DHET and has the involvement of all universities and other key stakeholders. The involvement and commitment of all the essential stakeholders in the project bodes well for the implementation prospects of the outcomes of the project. As the DHET leads on the project’s strategic direction and is the custodian of the project, this ensures that the project will receive the necessary support within Government.


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