By Tania du Toit
Exciting prospects await future teachers at the new SOS schools (schools of specialisation) that have been opened at a fast pace in Gauteng since 2015 or have been converted from old schools. The enthusiasm with which this new Gauteng initiative is being marketed and promoted by die Department of Education is catching. Who could be teachers here, especially when taking into consideration that this technical and vocational school training aims at preparing a new generation of learners for specific sectors of the labour market?
The Gauteng MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, clearly confirmed in media statements that pure mathematics and science (no mathematical literacy), as well as English at least, will be offered as subjects here. This is good news for the current corps of mathematics, science and English teachers, but naturally new teachers will also have to be trained especially seen against Lesufi’s statement that the future lies in specialisation and that only high-quality and extraordinarily competent teachers will be appointed. The implications go beyond the present SOS schools as Lesufi also mentioned that career-focused schooling will in due course be extended to Grade R level. It would therefore appear that new prospects for primary-school teachers could also emerge or develop from this, but exactly how is still not clear.
It is very clear that opportunities are created by the type of subjects offered by these 25-29 envisaged SOS schools launched during the said Gauteng trial run. If specialist areas (apart from mathematics, science, English and other “regular” school subjects) are already being taught at the few functioning schools, one would suspect that these vocational teachers probably also include professionals from various industries because specialist teachers in these fields could thus far not be adequately trained. One could, for example, think of flying instructors, pilots or any other relevant aviation specialists in their fields who could become involved at a school such as Rhodesfield High close to OR Thambo Airport (opened end of July 2018). Partnerships have been entered into with industrial leaders. BMW, for instance, is involved in the motor-mechanic SOS schools in Tshwane. The conclusion is that specialists from the labour market will have to become involved in this type of education, even if only to support the teachers.
The whole SOS school project and all its possibilities are still being rolled out; there will definitely still be plenty of changes and growing pains. It is a given that any new schools will need new (and more) teachers. New teachers’ qualifications will therefore develop and undoubtedly a bigger need for specialist mathematics and science teachers.
Teachers, prospective teachers and/or technical vocational advisors in the following specialist fields can begin preparing themselves for the following subjects envisaged for these schools: agriculture, aviation, engineering, nuclear power technology, motor mechanics, naval and marine technology, rail transport, information technology, computer technology, telecommunication, finance and commerce, tourism and hospitality studies, mining, entrepreneurship, pharmaceutical sciences, veterinary medicine, culture, sport, art and drama. It could be that curricula have not been fully developed in all cases, that there is still space for development with inputs from the relevant labour-market sectors about what is relevant in each industry and should be included in a curriculum. Apart from lecturing and teaching, this also leaves opportunities for curriculum researchers, developers and compilers.
It is definitely not only learners who have reason to feel excited about the future of the SOS schools; there are also exciting possibilities for teachers in this new development.
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