Mpumalanga University Teaching
The Teacher Education Campus at Siyabuswa is aimed at establishing a new university in Mpumalanga – the first new university in South Africa since 1994 when the first democratic government was formed. This initiative is a joint undertaking that involves the University of Johannesburg (Academic Programme), the National Department of Higher Education and Training, the Mpumalanga Department of Education and the National Institute of Higher Education (Mpumalanga).
At the start of 2013 the first cohort of students arrived at the Teacher Education Campus, Siyabuswa to start with their four year B Ed Foundation Phase teacher training programme offered by the Department of Childhood Development. With an emphasis on the training of a new generation of Foundation Phase teachers, the faculty’s academic program at Siyabuswa is being offered to students from a rural background. The aim is that these students upon graduation will return to their communities to help address the need for well-trained Foundation Phase teachers in the rural areas of the country. During his address at the formal opening of the Siyabuswa campus, Minister Blade Nzimande of the Department of Higher Education and Training expressed his sincere wish that this initiative will help alleviate the need for trained teachers that will return to schools in the rural areas once they graduate. In this way, a contribution is also made to the development of rural areas, as stated in the National Development Framework.
The faculty’s unique approach to the use of a teaching school is also being replicated at Siyabuswa. A teaching school acts as a real-world example of a fully functional school, giving students opportunities to learn through observation and direct interaction with teachers and pupils. In therefore bridges the theory-practical divide that often characterises teacher training at universities. The lessons learned at the Soweto Campus’ Funda Ujabule teaching school have thus far proven to be invaluable. At Siyabuswa, the Mareleng Primary School is being established as the second teaching school in the country. The main difference, however, is that Mareleng Primary school is an existing school that needs to be transformed into a teaching school, unlike Funda Ujabule that started out as a teaching school. In this regard a unique research opportunity presented itself – one that is keenly embraced by the faculty.
At present the only programme offered at this campus is the four-year B Ed Foundation Phase Teacher training programme. The reason why this is the first programme to be offered is the necessity to produce professionally qualified beginner teachers for the foundation phase.