Vision for influencing change
GTI aims to build a new cohort of quality teachers through a scalable and replicable school-based teacher internship programme using a developmental process of reflection, empathy, social responsibility, and instructional and academic mastery. We aim with school districts and locally-sourced partners to establish initial teacher development hubs utilising their existing physical and human resources.
Our Theory of Change
Excellent teaching first requires insight and understanding of oneself and the reflective capacity to understand the deeper meaning of their work. To solve educational inequality, teachers must focus not only on instructional practice and content, but also on their own personal history and values and confront their beliefs and assumptions about learning, culture, authority, and achievement and consider the moral and social questions that are embedded in education. One’s practice must be grounded in a commitment to social justice, equity and community development. Continual self-reflection, open, honest engagements and having difficult conversations is essential as is a commitment to the emotional aspects of the work—to being loving, caring and empathetic.
We need teachers coming into the profession who are not only passionate about their content but are also passionate about a greater social movement, and about building a better world. Instead of believing that as teachers we should help our learners achieve to escape poverty, we should help our learners and teachers work to change the circumstances so that poverty no longer exists.
At GTI, we aim to do things differently. The current models are failing us to the extent that, to continue doing what we have done, is negligent. As teachers in a democratic society, we must realize that our mandate is to prepare learners to be active, prepared, informed and engaged citizens. We want learners and teachers to confront their own biases and actions, challenge their long-held beliefs, and bring a new educational vision and world to reality. By guiding teachers through these personal processes of self-growth, they can then help their students undergo the same process. In this way, our work is both intrinsic because it deals with our own level of consciousness and extrinsic, as we aim to catalyse personal development to facilitate social and community transformations.
We believe that education and teacher training is critical for triggering these shifts and by transforming and innovating the way teachers are trained we can bring systemic change to education and society more broadly. We know this kind of education movement is harder to articulate and harder to win because it requires teachers to go beyond the curriculum and to do personally challenging work in difficult circumstances. However, by working within communities of practice teachers can create significant power within themselves, with others and ultimately within the systems around us. By shifting values, beliefs and behaviour in teachers, they can facilitate a similar shift for learners, who are the architects and authors of the future.
However, a transformative teacher development framework will not be enough alone to develop high-quality teachers. An equally innovative delivery model, that is responsive to the challenges and realities of South Africa is needed to ensure meaningful learning experiences can be delivered to student teachers.
Of the nearly 25 000 schools in South Africa, only about 20% or 5 000 of them have been deemed functional. While this certainly signals an education system in crisis, much hope for a better future lies in the 5 000 functional schools if their strengths can be leveraged to educate the next generation of highly capable teachers. If 5 000 functional schools each hosted just four teacher interns a year, schools could be utilised to educate the next generation of highly capable teachers. Such a model could serve a cohort of over 20 000 teacher interns and produce more than 4 000 graduates a year.
By forming a public-private partnership with the Department of Basic Education the direct costs would be covered by Funza Lushaka and supported by the Department of Higher Education. This would add great strength to the teaching practice component of initial teacher education, to government schools and to the government bursary scheme.
A group of functional schools in a district can become an initial teacher development hub. Each hub can harness the existing capacity of the basic education system (existing teachers acting as mentors, providing work-integrated learning in real classrooms) to address the challenges of the initial teacher education system in producing high-quality teachers.
By embedding a teacher development methodology based on of reflection, empathy, social responsibility, and instructional and academic mastery within a teacher internship programme, student teachers can be developed within the context in which they will work but with the capacity to create a new world through their classrooms.