Curriculum Transformation Initiatives

Posted on September 02, 2021

The Department of Early Childhood Education has just introduced—from 2021, the teaching of Sepedi, Setswana, and Isizulu as First Additional Languages  (FAL), under the Literacy Studies module--JGL 461, in our B Ed Foundation Phase Teaching programme.

This development in itself undoubtedly represents a milestone achievement for the department. For the first time, the languages curriculum included languages other than English and Afrikaans, and students could choose to train to teach in one of the three African languages on offer.  The point was underscored by the coordinator of Languages Studies in the department, Dr Joyce West:

 This is the first time in the history of the University of Pretoria's ECE department that students received education and were able to submit a formal assessment task in a language other than English and Afrikaans.

The staff appointed to teach in African Languages (FAL) in the ECE department are all first language speakers of these languages, who also hold highest academic qualifications to teach these languages in the B Ed Foundation Phase Teaching programme. Further, of the three staff members involved in the African languages programme, two are part-time staff—namely, Setswana and IsiZulu, while one staff member, for Sepedi, is full-time academic staff. 

The Department is presently in the process of appointing a full-time academic staff to take full responsibilities for the development of African Languages curriculum, which will also involve introducing these languages at Home Language (HL) levels.

While the teaching of African languages, Sepedi, Setswana, and IsiZulu under Literacy Studies module—JGL 461, has taken off very well, catering in particular for the real needs of our students who would be teaching in schools where teaching and learning occurs in the medium of these languages, the effects of many years of neglect and marginalization of these languages are, unfortunately, inescapable.

For example, we still have to contend with issues of attitudes and perceptions, as well as the more practical issues of the glaring lack of resources. The lack of teaching and learning resources has unfortunately forced lecturers teaching in these African languages to use textbooks written for English (HL and FAL) students, a situation lecturers report to be proving extremely problematic from a pedagogical point of view.

Nonetheless, the department is committed to contributing to the development of resources (Learner-Teacher Support Materials—LTSM) in African languages generally, and in the three languages of Setswana, Sepedi, and IsiZulu, as well as developing associated skills on the part of our African languages to be able to develop their own materials for teaching and their learners’ learning within the resource-scarce African languages classrooms in contemporary South African primary schooling.

In these pursuing such curriculum transformation agenda as part of our commitment to social transformation through quality, and transformative primary school curriculum that is relevant to the needs of our learners, the department will undoubtedly require appropriate funding, without which the full implementation of a transformative African languages curriculum that is geared towards building firm foundation for future learning success for especially our African languages learners will—unfortunately, continue to  remain almost impossible to achieve.

We would appreciate donations and grants for Africa languages programme for our Early Childhood Development and the Foundation Phase teaching programmes. We therefore hereby invite all our private, public and corporate partners in education to join us in our endeavour to provide a meaningful primary school foundational learning programme in the languages our learners speak and understand best, and thereby provide them with firm stepping-stone to future successes.

Thanking you,

Prof Azwihangwisi E. Muthivhi

Head of Department

Department of Early Childhood Education

Tel +27 (0)12 420 5636

Email: [email protected]

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