Remarks of Prof Ihron Rensburg, Vice Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg on the occasion of the launch of UJICE, SWC, 22 July 2011
Each day is a special day for us here at our Soweto UJ Campus – as we continue to renew and remake our campus and its programmes and position it for leadership in teaching, research and public scholarship, and as a proud symbol of the post-apartheid reconstruction and renewal of Soweto and Johannesburg.
Today we announce the establishment of the Funda UJabule School with great pride.
As we did in 2009 with the announcement of the UJ-Harvard Institute Education Leadership 2009 and the announcement in February of this year of the new campus, as well as the Centre for Small Business Development and the Law Clinic, all of which are turning scholarship into public engagement and transformatory service.
The Funda UJabule School demonstrates, at its core, UJ’s commitment to advancing research and practice in childhood education. It is also a ground breaking and transformational partnership between UJ and the GDE. And, as part of the UJICE, the Funda UJabule School serves not only children and families in Soweto, but it also functions as a research/teaching school – a first of its kind in South Africa.
Mourshed & Barber report on best practices of highly successful school systems in the McKinsey Report: “How the world’s best performing school systems come out on top” and highlights that what these schools have in common is good early education and good teacher education – both are a focus in the UJICE.
Our country has a dire need for good teachers in the foundation phase and relevant research to inform practice, as is evident from the recent Annual National Assessment results. Many of our teachers who teach in the Foundation Phase have not received the education to specialise in this phase. A 2004 survey suggested that perhaps as few as half of teachers teaching in the foundation phase were educated to teach in this area (ELRC, 2004). This picture has not changed much since 2004. Currently, an average of 1 200 foundation phase teachers qualify each year, with more than 500 hundred from an English-language background and 500 from an Afrikaans background. Taking into consideration that the country needs more than 4 000 new foundation phase teachers that are more diverse in language capability every year, we must sure be alarmed by the status quo.
It is for this reason that UJ was willing to put considerable resources into the Funda UJabule School as a teaching/research school to enable excellent education of the most important teachers in a child’s life.