Fifty-three participants of the Extended Education Practitioner Training Programme (EEPTP) received their short-course certificates at their course graduation ceremony at the Adam Small Theatre Complex, Stellenbosch University (SU), on Saturday 12 January 2019. The short course, coordinated by the SU Centre for Pedagogy (SUNCEP), was developed in partnership with various industry partners, including the Western Cape departments of Cultural Affairs and Sport, and Education, the Community Chest of the Western Cape, Rutgers University and SU.
The short course is the first of its kind in South Africa and it is foreseen that it will be a game changer in the after-school environment, as it enhances the programme development, evaluation, assessment and outcomes-based skills of after-school practitioners.
In her keynote address delivered as part of the ceremony, SU's Prof Nuraan Davids affirmed the role that all South Africans should play in enhancing our education system: “Given the challenges faced in various communities, the After School Programme in the Western Cape should be seen as fully part of the education of our learners. It should thus focus on creating citizens that can shape our country's future."
The graduation event was attended by officials from the mentioned Western Cape government departments, including the minister of Education, Debby Schäfer, as well as representatives from the Community Chest of the Western Cape and SU.
However, the day belonged to the group of practitioners who successfully completed a 15-month training course and who will now invest the acquired skills in their communities. Some of the focus areas of the course included Personal leadership, Leading in a complex environment, Creating a pathway for our youth and Building effective After School Programmes, and it concluded its final module with a focus on building partnerships and stakeholder relations.
Janelle Fielies, a participant representing the NGO Go for Gold, said:
“Not only has the EEPTP course equipped me with invaluable skills and tools, but it took me on a deep journey of self-discovery and growth beyond what I could ever imagine. The graduation was a highlight in my life and a very special one […] I have been blessed with an amazing opportunity and feel honoured to be part of this movement."
The practitioners were selected based on their experience and involvement in the after-school space and were endorsed by their respective organisations. The skills obtained in the course will not only provide the practitioners with the opportunity to enhance their after-school programmes, but will also allow for the development of a critical mass of practitioners in the environment that can jointly invest in the curriculum, planning, implementation and evaluation of after-school programmes.
The second cohort of after-school practitioners will start their course in February 2019. As representatives of their respective organisations, they will have the opportunities to link their residence periods with practical engagements in various communities around the Western Cape.
SU, through its Division for Social Impact, will coordinate the programme. The short course will further be enhanced by a think tank of education experts as well as a steering committee consisting of industry partners, academics and practitioners.