Recently South Africa’s Minister of Basic Education, Mrs. Angie Motshekga has emphasised the need for large scale, collaborative and substantive change to consistently provide equity, quality, and inclusive life-long learning opportunities for all learners across every school in South Africa.
It is exactly that kind of change that the University of the Free State (UFS) is committed to facilitating. With over 12 million learners in South African schools and 380,000 teachers in South Africa – and the progress being made in strengthening South Africa’s wireless infrastructure – the UFS is embracing the challenge to transform education beyond the model that was established centuries ago in the absence of technology and today’s tools.
The UFS’ South Campus, located in Bloemfontein, focuses on offering of online distance learning programmes. This campus is the very first campus to provide an Advanced Certificate in Teaching (ACT) 100% online programme for teachers as a means to significantly address long-standing educational, economic and political needs. Although the programme provides the flexibility of studying at a time and place convenient to the student, extensive academic and administrative support is provided to ensure success.
The ACT Online programme addresses the requirement for a teaching and learning pathway for teachers wanting to advance in their careers. This qualification has a specific aim to improve teachers’ knowledge and competencies towards a new subject or strengthen their subject specialisation. Furthermore, the ACT can play an important role in improving the quality of education and in that way the quality of life of many South Africans.
The ACT will not only upgrade the qualification of those teachers, who are currently employed without adequate training, but it also offers specialist education to those teachers, who need to strengthen their subject specialisation knowledge base. The qualification also aims to provide retraining to teachers who wish to change their career path, thus widening the pool of teachers who are able to teach this subject.
There are numerous advantages of the ACT Online Programme for teachers, some which include: it offers students the opportunity to study in their own time and at their place and own pace; it presents an outstanding opportunity to conveniently and affordably advance in higher education and achieve professional qualifications; it is a brilliant solution for adult working students, who cannot easily access traditional on-campus programmes; it will help accelerate the pace at which South Africa’s teachers earn this important qualification; it is making learning more convenient for working teachers by decreasing travel requirements; and it assesses students ability to apply the new skills and knowledge in a practical way that can be applied in the classroom.
More about the ACT
In an effort to better meet the needs of committed classroom teachers, the UFS South Campus is proud to be the first in South Africa to introduce fully online instruction for teachers to complete their ACT for Foundation Phase, Intermediate Phase or Senior Phase English FAL. The online ACT programmes are organised into 9–10 consecutive, 8-week sessions which can be completed in 18-20 months, compared to the usual 24 months for the contact programme.
For busy teachers determined to advance their qualifications, this is a wonderful opportunity to graduate with an ACT, on National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 6. This programme requires no travel or mandatory contact sessions, students choose the time that works best in their schedule to complete each week’s requirements.
Students can also enrol, pay for and complete one module at a time, which makes the qualification very affordable. Fees are R2 435.00 for each eight (8) week session.
Students receive ongoing academic support from online teaching assistants to ensure full academic integrity and a learning experience on par or better than in the same campus-based programme. Additionally, each student is assigned a personal programme coordinator to ensure that the student stays in the system and that they receive non-academic and technical support. This unique high engagement model leads to exceptionally high student success rates through to graduation.
Lessons include relevant problem solving and practical application exercises. Skills learned can be used immediately in the classroom. The online ACT programmes exemplify the integration of theory and practice.
Engagement and support for the student
ACT Online programme has online facilitators allocated to each module. The facilitators will engage and work with the students online to ensure that they have interactive learning experiences.
- Each student has direct contact with the facilitator to ensure instant and continuous feedback.
- Technological support will be provided by the Helpdesk of the UFS.
- The student can revisit the content as required.
- There is no need to be 100% online all the time as most of the content can be downloaded and worked through offline. The instructional modules may be accessed at any time via a laptop, computer, tablet or mobile phone through an Internet connection from home, school or other convenient locations.
- The programme is aligned to grant SACE CPD (Continuous Professional Development) points.
Admission to the Advanced Certificates in Teaching is subject to the UFS General Rules, and the specific requirements of the South Campus and the Faculty of Education of the UFS. The following requirements for prospective students apply:
- Applicants should be in possession of an approved and recognised professional teaching qualification:
- A three-year Teacher’s Diploma at NQF 5 (eg. the three-year College of Education Diploma), or
- A 360-credit National Professional Diploma in Education (NPDE) at NQF level 5; or
- A 480-credit Bachelor of Education (BEd) at NQF level 7 (may be in a different phase or specialisation); or
- An applicable Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Advanced Diploma at NQF 7 (may be in a different phase or specialisation); or
- An approved and recognised professional teaching qualification evaluated as REQV 13.
- Must be a practicing teacher.
- Prospective students must provide proof that they are currently teaching in the selected phase or have access to an applicable classroom for the duration of the programme.
- Have access to the Internet and a laptop. Visit www.ufs.ac.za/ACTonline for laptop specifications
The starting dates for 2017, will be 11 September and 6 November respectively.