The recruitment and training of teachers in critical subjects such as mathematics, science and English is set to improve as a result of the "Teacher Assist Approach" initiative launched by the Basic Education Department in partnership with the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (Isasa) and Investec.
The department, Isasa and financial services provider Investec officially launched the public-private partnership to train 200 teacher interns in the priority subjects in Pretoria on Friday.
These teacher interns will be trained at independent schools from 2013 to 2020.
The partners will use combined resources to produce quality teachers in maths, science and English. The department will fund the full study and subsistence costs of the teachers for the duration of their training through the Funza Lushaka bursary programme.
'Developing quality teachers in key subjects'
Isasa schools will be used to host, train and mentor the interns. The body will also manage the programme which entails recruiting, selecting and placing prospective teachers, and supporting them through the duration of their internship, which will take three to four years.
Investec has extended its focus to the critical need to develop quality teachers in these key subjects.
Its role will also see the organisation provide funding for enrichment activities such as the orientation of the new recruits, academic support as well as hosting mentoring meetings.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that as stated in the government's education strategy - "Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025" - the department was working hard to improve the supply of young and qualified educators, particularly for gateway subjects.
"The Funza Lushaka bursary programme is one way of [achieving this], hence our support for this initiative," she said.
"This will help us in placing the just over 2 000 new graduates Funza Lushaka has produced over the last three years and in tackling current teacher shortages."
Maths, science as a 'lifelong profession'
Isasa will provide day-to-day assistance to the recruits, including continuous assessment to ensure that those who require additional support are identified and assisted accordingly.
It will also manage aspects of the teachers' development, with the support of the department and Investec. It is hoped that the training model will be the catalyst towards grooming the next generation of teachers.
"The programme aims to produce confident, competent teachers, with a strong commitment to maths and science teaching as their lifelong profession. Clearly, the multiplier effect of having proficient teachers in these priority subjects is a significant contribution to the teaching profession," Motshekga said.
"Eligible candidates are school-leavers with university entrance passes and high quality marks in maths, science or English. Those with university credits or degrees in these subjects will also be among those receiving bursaries to study for a teaching degree."
One of the interns, Nomthandazo Dube from Tembisa, who feels she was "born a teacher", said she joined the programme to gain practical experience.
"I want to find my feet first before going out to teach. My goal is to further my studies and do education psychology because it gives you the tools you need as an educator to understand the learner behaviour and how to respond in different situations."
Applicants for 2014, especially graduates wishing to access bursaries, can get application forms by contacting Isasa on 011 648 1331.