Newspaper clipping – iol on line - 23 April 2008

Teacher colleges might return

The education department is considering re-opening teacher-training colleges, says Education Minister Naledi Pandor.

In a written reply to a question by Desiree van der Walt of the Democratic Alliance, Pandor said the department was investigating options for expanding the provision of teacher education.

A service-linked bursary scheme for teacher training at universities was introduced last year, with R180-million allocated in 2008 for nearly 5000 student teachers. The aim was to train more primary school teachers, more teachers to work in rural schools, and more maths and language teachers. “However, we are still short of teachers in these three areas,” Pandor said.

Therefore, one of the options under consideration was the establishment of dedicated units, colleges, or institutions in each province to strengthen this triple need and, additionally, to support provincial and local government integrated development plans.

In the past, teacher-training colleges were a provincial competence and colleges were mainly responsible for training primary school teachers. When the decision was taken to close them in the 1990s, colleges were training too many teachers in a fragmented and unco-ordinated system. Moreover, the quality of college training was uneven, some colleges were too expensive for provinces to run, and the majority of African students were disadvantaged by being locked into colleges in former homeland areas.
“At the time, most stakeholders supported their closure. At the time, most stakeholders supported the associated policy decision to raise the professional status of the teaching profession by locating teacher education and training at universities. The argument that primary school teachers do not need a university education is part of the call to reopen teacher colleges and it is a policy proposal that is under review,” Pandor said. - Sapa