Funda UJabule School
The Funda UJabule School in Soweto is the only one of its kind in South Africa. The school is a partnership between the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ). This school opened its doors to the children of the area in 2010 with two grade R classes, one for children who speak isiZulu at home and one for Sesotho speaking children. The school will grow incrementally into a fully-fledged primary school.
Funda UJabule was founded as a teacher education and research school in the Faculty of Education of the University of Johannesburg, in collaboration with the GDE. In addition to serving the children of Soweto, it serves as training site for teacher education students at the university. It is also the site of unique longitudinal research. The school also hosts community engagement projects related to care and education in childhood.
Integration of school education, teacher education, research, and community engagement
Teacher education and training
The students in the Foundation Phase Education degree programme participate in classroom activities in the school, learning about the practice of teaching. They spend time in the school as classroom observers and as assistants. The staff of the school become adjunct teacher educators of the UJ students and they work with the UJ lecturers. Thus, students, school staff and university lecturers collaborate in this integrated project of teacher education. The overall aim is to establish a strong teacher education programme that bridges the ‘theory-practice divide’
Once the intermediate phase degree programme is introduced in 2014 the school will also serve as learning site for these students.
The school and UJ staff write a bi-weekly column, “Funda ngeFunda UJabule” (learn with Funda UJabule), in the community newspapers of Soweto. In these columns issues related to childhood education and care are discussed. Special attention is given to how parents and other caregivers can assist young children in making progress in school.
Teacher Education students and staff share their expertise and offer educational programmes to the community. Two such events have been hosted thus far: The Maponya Mall Reading programme (2012) and the UJ Storytelling Festival (2013).
Learn and be joyful (Funda UJabule)
From the outset, the ethos of the school has captured the joy of learning. With more than 300 children, thirteen full-time staff members, many students and lecturers, the school radiates warmth, activity, and growth. Parent meetings, community programmes, research, learning and teaching come together in a public school like no other in South Africa.
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