The University of Cape Townʼs (UCT) School of Education celebrated a graduation with a difference on 29 October, when the 2019 cohort of young educators successfully completed their year-long Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT) Project programme. At the function, their mentors, principals, funders and School of Education staff paid tribute to the teachers for their “unbelievable hard work”.
Addressing the teachers, project manager Judy Sacks said: “I have been humbled and inspired by your grit and energy and by how the foundation for your persistence is the constant effort to do the best for your learners. Your learners and schools are truly fortunate to have you.
“Teachers are expected to be counsellors, parents, sports coaches, administrators, project managers, event coordinators and so much more,” she added.
“And unlike other professions, teachers are expected to jump straight in and do the same as their experienced colleagues from day one.”
Newly Qualified Teachers Project
Established in 2016, and funded by Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) Foundation and The Saville Foundation, the NQT Project provides support to Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students starting out their teaching careers. The 2019 NQT cohort are all 2018 PGCE graduates who have just completed their first year of teaching full-time.
“Teachers are a precious resource who need to be nurtured and supported so that they can play a meaningful role in transforming our education system,” said Associate Professor Rochelle Kapp, who chairs the project.
“Teacher retention in our schools is an important issue as high levels of staff turnover inhibit teaching and learning.”
To this end, the NQT Project comprises a year of continued academic and professional teacher development with monthly workshops and meetings, one-on-one mentoring, classroom visits and legal and administrative help.
There is also a four-day Winter School in July with free workshops and talks on a range of relevant issues, skills and topics for all teachers. The project is fulfilling its mandate, as is evident from the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the teachers.
“Teachers are a precious resource who need to be nurtured and supported.”
Reflecting, networking, building
“Being a part of the NQT programme and being able to listen to the shared experiences and solutions to certain problems made me feel less alone in this profession,” said Deborah Harrisankar, one of the newly qualified teachers.
“I can confidently say that the guidance offered by the NQT programme made this year so much easier to overcome and I overcame it successfully. I am truly grateful for the support given to me by [the] programme.”
Another teacher, Aneeqah Arend, added: “The NQT has been a place to reflect and recoup. We’ve learned from those in different educational contexts, we’ve networked, [exchanged] ideas, cried and, thankfully, laughed.”
According to Associate Professor Catherine Kell, director of the School of Education, the NQT Project is growing in momentum. She paid tribute to the young teachers, many of whom have bravely gone into schools where they teach many learners with very few resources.
She commended their commitment to their learners and to education.
“Great teachers are the key to building a generation of learners and young people who are critical and creative thinkers and who will add positively to our society,” she said.
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