Zenex’s Strategy for Supporting Initial Teacher Education (ITE)
South Africa needs 425,000 additional teachers by 2030. To meet the demand, we must increase uptake of the Bachelor of Education (BEd) and double the annual graduation level. However, the quality of teacher training is even more important than a quantitative increase.
Zenex thus works intensively with government, education institutions and researchers on a variety of initiatives support the development of a new cohort of graduate teachers who are competent in the role they will undertake.
- Boost teacher training quality: By addressing low ITE entry requirements and stubbornly poor delivery, particularly for the practical aspects of ITE.
- Strengthen teacher practice opportunities: Common standards and implementation guidelines are needed to achieve this.
- Enhance mentoring and academic support: This is especially critical for students in distance ITE.
Zenex ITE Initiatives
Zenex structures its interventions along the ITE pathway, as outlined below.
- Targeted Recruitment: This area is managed through the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme to draw future teachers onto the pathway.
- University Selection and Curriculum: Challenges at this phase are addressed on a systemic level through policy revision, establishing standards of professionalism and developing the curriculum. Some national initiatives to date include:The Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education Qualifications (MRTEQ) targeting BEd degree quality have been revised, with attention paid to distance learning.
- The Primary Teachers Education Project (PrimTed) to improve the curriculum for Foundation Phase teachers-in-training.
- Placement in Schools: Zenex-funded research provides invaluable evidence for building effective, scalable placement models for use by education departments and schools.
- Student Teacher Induction: Innovative internship models for enriched practical experience and theoretical knowledge application are under development. Zenex has supported three internship projects for distance education students:
- Independent Association of Southern Africa Mathematics and English (ISASA M&E) Internship Programme
- Zenex/Inanda Internship Programme
- Career Entry and Development Profile (CEDP): Zenex supported the South African Council for Educators (SACE) to develop a clear teacher professionalisation pathway. Comprehensive implementation of the pathway will open all the right doors for student-teachers.
Zenex Innovation Projects
- Teacher Internship Collaboration South Africa (TICZA) – Link to article
- In keeping with its Strategy 2025 requiring evidence-based interventions and scalable models, Zenex spearheaded this collaboration. TICZA focuses on the collection and application of evidence as well as strengthening the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of teacher internships.
- Through TICZA, a platform is being created that will allow organisations managing teacher internships to share and improve their practices.
- University of Johannesburg (UJ) Teaching School – Link to article
- In partnership with Zenex, UJ is developing an online BEd for student-teachers placed full-time at the Funda UJabule Teaching School.
- The outcomes of research at the Teaching School inform programme development, and effective ways to conduct internships at such schools.
- The unique internship model under construction is based on practice in the local context combined with international standards. The model can be used to improve the quality of other distance education teacher development programmes.
- The Khanyisa Inanda Community Project (KICP) Student- teacher Internship – link to article
- The KICP model places third- and fourth-year students as interns in public schools to build their classroom practice and pedagogical and content knowledge.
- A critical element of the model is offering student-interns intensive and structured mentorship and support.
- Students are inducted into teaching and the school environment, while receiving valuable guidance, personal development, academic support and instructional practice.
By addressing challenges and needs along the entire ITE pathway, Zenex’s initiatives help create solutions to support South Africa’s fledgling teachers effectively. Zenex has contributed significantly to the establishment of a clear CEDP for new teachers through funding innovative projects that will enhance placement, induction and internship models. To drive future innovation, Zenex now supports TICZA in a collaborative evidence-based research for scalable models; UJ Online BEd in the Foundation Phase, and Khanyisa Inanda Student-teacher Internship, both designed to enrich distance education for student-teachers by offering students opportunities to apply what they learn in a real classroom. The difference between the two latter programmes being that one is run by an institution of higher learning and the other by an NGO, respectively.