This project is aimed at increasing the number high-quality Mathematics, Science and Language teachers by innovating models of selection, placement and training of pre-service teachers. The project places graduates to serve as teachers in public schools.

Teach South Africa Internship

Name of organisation/service provider: TEACH South Africa                      

Duration of Project: 2015 - 2017

Programme: Sector-Strengthening Programme

Where is the Project based: National


TEACH SA contributes to initial teacher education and addresses the shortage of Mathematics, Science and Language teachers. This initiative is looking to increase the teaching pool through alternative points of entry, and addressing scarce skills in order to improve learner performance.

The project is a joint venture between the Department of Basic Education (which contributes bursaries), the Provinces (salaries), the National Education Collaboration Trust (placement by integrating into the District Intervention), and the Zenex Foundation (other aspects of the programme such as recruitment, selection, training and placement).

The Foundation has funded TEACH SA through two grants previously. The grants provided funding for training and support of 100 Ambassadors (50 in 2009 - 2011 and 50 in 2012 - 2014). The Foundation also commissioned an evaluation that commenced in 2011 and whose findings have been taken into account in this project.

In the period 2009 to 2014 TEACH SA has placed 277 Ambassadors in 139 schools (some Ambassadors are paired at schools). The Programme in 2009 started in Gauteng and over the six years, a presence in several provinces was established. By 2014 just about half, 135 were placed in schools in Gauteng; 37 in the Free State and about 25 in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape. The other provinces have fewer or no Ambassadors. In terms of subjects, 104 were placed as Mathematics interns, 99 as Science interns and 74 as English interns.

Details of the project intervention

The Project is aimed at recruiting, training and supporting outstanding young graduates majoring in Mathematics, Science, English and Technology to commit two years to teaching in disadvantaged public schools.

The Project provides training to graduates to prepare them for the teaching assignment, and provides ongoing mentoring support to the graduates whilst in the schools. The graduates fill vacant posts in schools and are paid a salary (as an unqualified teacher) by the relevant Provincial Education Departments.

Given the teacher qualification framework in South Africa, the graduates also register for a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) whilst undertaking their school placements. At the end of the period they have a teaching qualification. The aim of TEACH SA is to retain these graduates in the teaching profession.

Objectives and premise of the intervention

The objectives of the programme are to:

  • Increase the achievement of learners (taught by the Ambassadors).
  • Increase the number of teachers employed in rural and urban disadvantaged schools, teaching Mathematics, Science and English.
  • Contribute to the elevation in standards of the teaching of Mathematics, Science and English at the schools at which Ambassadors are placed.
  • Increase participation in the teaching profession and the retention of teachers.

Project Activities

The implementation of the Project has four main components, namely: Recruitment and Selection; Selection of Schools and Placement of Ambassadors; Training; and Ongoing Support while undertaking the PGCE on a part-time basis.

  • Recruitment and Selection: TEACH SA has a broad recruitment process that includes partnering with South African Graduate Recruiters Association (SAGRA). SAGRA conducts career fairs, produces flyers, and facilitates presentations at universities to recruit graduates at universities across the country. Rigorous recruitment and selection criteria are applied in the process. The online application process is followed by a selection process to ensure that minimum requirements for teaching are met. Once an applicant makes it through this process, a thorough interview and competency testing is undertaken. Ambassadors are required to sign a contract that binds them to attending training and commits them to upholding the TEACH SA brand once they have been accepted into the programme.
  • Training: Prior to their deployment, TEACH SA Ambassadors receive training designed to be highly practical, clearly purposeful and meant for immediate on-the-job application. This is an intensive two-week residential training programme to allow for the lengthy hours of training and practice work. Training is offered to each set of subject Ambassadors, specific to their field (Mathematics, Science and English) by experts in the field and on leadership in a school context.  
  • Placement in Schools: TEACH SA commences with an “audit”, a process which seeks to ascertain the levels of functionality present within the participating schools. This benchmarks their functionality, their needs and manages the expectations from the schools. TEACH SA Ambassadors are placed in schools that have been selected by the Provincial Education Departments. They base the selection of schools on the availability of vacant posts in disadvantaged areas.

An attempt is made to match TEACH SA Ambassadors with the specific requirements of the schools. Through the support of its stakeholders and partners, TEACH SA seeks to ensure that the schools which participate in the Project are able to offer Ambassadors a supportive and enabling environment. The design aims to work with its partners, the School Governing Bodies, district officials, funders and principals to prepare for the placement. These arrangements are important as Ambassadors are placed in remote locations where matters such as accommodation have to be arranged. Without stakeholder management and planning, the Project is at risk. A Memorandum of Understanding or service level agreement is signed with the school to make expectations explicit.

  • Ongoing Support Programme: The design plans to offer Ambassadors continuous school-based support in the form of mentorship and classroom coaching. Ongoing support consists of leadership workshops, class visits for classroom practice, content support and pastoral support. This support is meant to be provided face to face and sometimes due to distances it is also conducted electronically and telephonically. In an effort to reach Ambassadors, TEACH SA contracts service providers that specialise in Mathematics, Science and English to support Ambassadors on the agreed dosage for the classroom practice and content support. Ongoing support includes training in the analysis of learner achievement data with strategies for remediation and Project planning.

Each Ambassador is intended to receive 30 hours (10 visits of 3 hours) of school-based support in the first year and 18 hours in the second year. Ongoing learning area/subject workshops are conducted by mentors and they invite district subject advisers. Three meetings per year are held regionally for leadership development, team building and formulation of an alumni movement. This ongoing support aims to provide the Ambassadors with skills to advance their careers, whether they want to remain as educators or leave after two years. It should be remembered that Ambassadors should also be acquiring skills and knowledge as they proceed with the PGCE.

Further, as agents of change, Ambassadors are expected to identify a need in their school community and develop a Project plan to address this need. The ongoing support team helps Ambassadors implement their plans to bring lasting change to the schools where they work.

  • Qualifying as a Teacher – PGCE: In order for the Ambassadors to meet the requirements of a teacher, they are encouraged to undertake a PGCE on a part-time basis, to quality as teachers. The availability of funds to support Ambassadors both with fees and registration costs influences when they are able to start. However, it is compulsory for them to undertake the two-year long course.
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