04 November 2022
Teacher education is a critical element in producing young people who are properly equipped to enter the world of work or entrepreneurship. In response to a call from the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, Absa partnered with Save the Children South Africa (SCSA) and other key stakeholders to design and implement a multi-stakeholder proof-of-concept project: the District-Based Teacher Recruitment Strategy (DBTRS).
The project is defined by its holistic model of support and is aimed at producing teachers that have technical content and the ability to effectively teach that content in rural classrooms. As a pilot project aimed at developing a scalable model, the DBTRS has also focused on documenting and sharing lessons learnt and establishing networks and partnerships that will have an enduring impact.
This aligns with one of Absa’s key areas of developmental focus: bolstering youth education, skills development and employability, ensuring that young Africans can reimagine their futures and bring their possibilities to life. Education reform initiatives – including institutional capacity building, teacher training and influencing policy reform – are a key component in the achievement of these goals.
An innovative model for better equipped teachers
Through the DBTRS, student teachers are recruited from rural districts, and study for their BEds through distance learning [assisted with a Funza Lushaka bursary from the Department of Basic Education (DBE)]. While studying, the students are placed in classrooms alongside quality public sector teachers who take the role of mentors in classroom practice for the duration of their four-year degree, and mentored to overcome academic, financial, psycho-social and other challenges.
Through the period 2019 to 2021, Absa supported SCSA and the DBTRS to embed teacher candidates into schools through the course of their initial teacher education.
Over the duration of Absa’s support, 37 student teachers have completed their studies and are employed as qualified teachers. During teaching practice in 2021, 16 823 primary school children and 480 teachers have benefitted from having DBTRS student teachers support curriculum delivery and classroom learning. This is a fraction of the potential impact of a project such as the DBTRS, but a gratifying result from what was intended as a proof of concept.
As a pilot project, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) efforts focused on capturing the lessons learnt from this pilot were a crucial part of the DBTRS’s design. The lessons learnt were showcased to partners involved in the project and externally to other interested parties. The results from this pilot have the potential to inform how teachers are trained in South Africa.
The DBTRS project received the 2021 MTN Award for Social Change at the Trialogue Business in Society Conference. This was an important recognition of the project’s impact and validity, as well as the strength of the partnerships that it has built.
Learning and strengthening institutions
Those working to effect meaningful change in South Africa’s education system have learnt the crucial importance of strong partnerships. The DBTRS project has attracted a growing number of interested partners, including the DBE, Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Free State Department of Education (FSDoE) and two higher learning institutions, the University of South Africa (UNISA) and North-West University (NWU).
The DBTRS also became a member of the Teacher Internship Collaboration South Africa (TICZA), a high-level multi-partner collaboration that unites the efforts of local and international funders and implementers, and brings together government, academia, the private sector and implementers to drive innovation and continuous improvement in the delivery of teacher internship programmes.
Through TICZA, Absa will be able to continue the important work that was started by this innovative implementation project, but on a larger scale with a systemic impact focus.
Absa has supported TICZA’s implementing partner, JET Education Services, to set up a knowledge hub to share TICZA’s findings, results, lessons and goals, and to further enhance the M&E stream, enabling TICZA to commission a robust evaluation, including teacher practice observations.