'n Evaluering van die Noordwes–Universiteit GOS–opleidingsprogram vir graad R–onderwysers
Kruger, Corné Gerda
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According to the South African White Paper 5 on Early Childhood Development (ECD), the initiative of the Department of Education (DoE), whereby grade R is being implemented as part of compulsory education, is directed at the poorest of the poor. Grade R teachers responsible for the education of 5/6 year old learners will therefore have to possess knowledge and skills to enable them to lead grade R learners from deprived circumstances to optimal development and learning readiness. For under-or unqualified Foundation Phase teachers who work and live in rural areas, distance learning is often the only option for professional development and concurrent increase in compensation. The School of Continuing Teacher Education of the North-West University designed an open distance learning model to provide in the educational needs of under and unqualified teachers. The Foundation Phase Curriculum within the Professional Educator Development programme of the Advanced Certificate in Education presented by the North West University (hereafter referred to as the NWU Foundation Phase ACE programme) is delivered via open distance learning. The National Curriculum Statements (Grade R-9) include grade R to three in the Foundation Phase Curriculum and therefore the NWU Foundation Phase ACE programme will be a financially viable option to train a large number of grade R teachers to provide in the need for qualified grade R teachers. This study investigates the way in which the NWU Foundation Phase ACE programme enables grade R teaching competency as programme outcome. To attain the research aims of the study a literature and empirical study were performed. The research aims of the literature study include the establishment of the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be included in a training programme with the aim of capacitating grade R teachers to facilitate the optimal development of five/six year olds from deprived circumstances. The literature is further researched to determine national and international criteria for effective design and content for training programmes for teachers of 5/6 year old learners. Through the literature study the criteria for effective training programmes for grade R teachers are determined and more specific the criteria for the effective implementation of distance learning for the training of grade R teachers. A comparative study between the NWU Foundation Phase ACE programme and similar distance learning programmes implemented internationally also serves as benchmarking for the evaluation of the NWU Foundation Phase ACE programme. Findings from the literature study serves as benchmark for the evaluation of the NWU Foundation Phase ACE programme and for the designing of questionnaires as measurement instruments for the empirical study. The empirical research has as its first aim to determine how the NWU Foundation Phase ACE programme provides grade R teacher-students the opportunity to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to facilitate the optimal development and learning readiness of five/six year olds from deprived circumstances. Secondly the empirical study aims to determine how the design and content of the NWU Foundation Phase ACE programme accommodates the profile and educational needs of the target population namely the teacher who will be responsible for the education of five/six year old learners from deprived circumstances. Although a combination of both qualitative and quantitative statistical methods is used in the empirical study, this evaluation research is primarily seen as a quantitative study grounded in the post-positivist epistemology. The mixed method serves as verification of findings on the data. Empirical data were captured by means of questionnaires comprising structured and open questions. Data captured through structured questions were statistically analysed while responses in open questions were interpreted qualitatively by the researcher. Data triangulation serves as verification of findings as the researcher gathered data from three study populations namely the NWU Foundation Phase ACE teacher-students, the facilitators who facilitate the NWU Foundation Phase ACE programme at the various contact centres countrywide as well as lecturers resenting a similar Foundation Phase ACE programme at other tertiary institutions in the country. A comparison of responses from the structured questions and open questions with data from related literature further provides for methodological triangulation and verification of findings. Data from the literature study as well as from all three study populations in the empirical investigation converged regarding inadequacies in the way the design and content of the NWU Foundation Phase ACE programme enable the development of grade R teaching competencies as outcome. Deficiencies were identified in the way the programme accommodates the situated and personal circumstances of the teacher student. The opportunity provided by programme design and content for an inexperienced grade R teacher-student to develop grade R knowledge and skills through experience learning, social learning and learning through reflection within the grade R teaching and learning context, was also found to be lacking. Recommendations based on the findings are made for consideration of future programme design.
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