Department of Childhood Education
The Department of Childhood Education (DCE) and the Centre for Education Research Practice (CEPR) together form a University of Johannesburg flagship. The Department offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. In the professional undergraduate programmes on the Soweto campus, teachers qualify for posts in the foundation and intermediate phase of schooling. In addition to the class work, the undergraduate programme is extended by a practicum component where students spend time in a primary school that is associated with the university. The CEPR, under the leadership of Prof E Henning, is the research ‘leg’ of childhood education and houses the majority of the research projects in the Department.
The programme offerings at undergraduate level in the DCE and the research foci in the DCE and CEPR are examples of innovations in childhood teacher education and research in South Africa. In our view, these contribute considerably to advancing the Faculty’s footprint and the overall goal of promoting excellence and stature at the University of Johannesburg.
The design of the foundation and intermediate phase teacher education programmes took into consideration that primary school teachers require a thorough understanding of the developing child as a learner in school, informed by research on leading teacher education programmes in the US (Darling-Hammond 2005) and in Finland. The integration of the teacher education programmes with the teaching school was modelled on the examples of leading teacher education programmes, such as those of Bank Street College in New York and the Viikkii teacher training schools in Helsinki and in Jyvaskyla, Finland.
Attached to the Faculty of Education on the Soweto campus is a laboratory school also commonly referred to as a teaching school, Funda UJabule. The school was established to serve as an educational or, more specifically, a pedagogical laboratory. Currently the school provides prime opportunities for prospective primary school teachers to study the development of young children as they learn, change and develop over time. This change in time is observed in social interaction, in school performance and in the development of personal characteristics. For this purpose, students are assigned one child to observe throughout their four years of study. Our research indicates that this is extremely valuable for the teachers of young children.