Curriculum Studies
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Curriculum Studies honour Teachers on Teacher Day

Prof Maureen Robinson 


Sustainability Starts with Teachers

Sustainability Starts with Teachers is an international UNESCO flagship action-learning programme of the Global Action Plan on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), in partnership with the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA), Rhodes University and SWEDESD. The programme supports teacher educators from 60 Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) in nine countries to work on ESD change projects to drive curriculum innovation and transformation of secondary teacher education towards sustainability. Dr Carina America was the nominated representative of the Faculty of Education at the workshop held at the Royal Swazi Sun in Swaziland from 17 – 21 July, together with teacher educators of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland.

The action programme focuses predominantly on Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning for all" with the ultimate aim that teacher educators need to use their professional learning to improve the education of teachers. In turn, this will support teachers to integrate ESD in their teaching practice. The programme will be developed over five learning actions:  a) ESD policy, context and competencies review, b) sustainable development goals and critical issues relevant to secondary teacher education programmes, c) transformative learning, pedagogy and learning environments, d) design and try out alternative assessment methods for ESD, and e) monitoring evaluation and scaling for impact. The change project at the faculty will have an integrated, participatory approach, incorporating the discursive terrains of ESD within the various subject disciplines with an ongoing 'work-in-progress' as the programme unfolds. Lecturers who want to form part of this project can contact Carina America,

Photos at the workshop:​


America 2.jpg

#Amagama Project 2018 

The SU Woordfees is very excited to launch the first #Amagama Project 2018 with the Faculty of Education.

Improve your Xhosa! Come and learn a 100 Xhosa words over a period of 10 days with the SU Woordfees.

The #Amagama Project 2018 entails that B. Ed. students, along with Mrs. Jana Nel from the Faculty of Education, will assist everyone with learning 10 new Xhosa words every day over a period of 10 days. The students will be available at various stalls throughout the SU Woordfees and they will be eager and ready to assist with the pronunciation of certain words as well as practising the famous three clicks of the Xhosa language. Every day new, exciting and user-friendly words will be learned. By the end of the SU Woordfees time-frame everyone would have learned a 100 Xhosa words and will know how to form easy sentences in Xhosa.

Viva Amagama! ​

Language Policy promotes inclusive multilingualism at SU


Author: Korporatiewe Kommunikasie / Corporate Communication

Stellenbosch University (SU) has not turned its back on Afrikaans and remains committed to the use of this language together with English as languages of instruction in the context of inclusivity and multilingualism.

This was the message of SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers on Tuesday evening (19 September) during a discussion with the education community in Paarl. The event took place at Klein Nederburg Secondary and was attended by schools in the region and by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). The topic was “Transformation and Language at SU".

Prof De Villiers pointed out that there are many positive developments at SU but that these are often overshadowed by negative mentions in the media. For example, SU is well placed on world rankings of top universities and maintains some of the highest rates of student success and research output in the country. Yet, in some circles, SU is erroneously depicted as a monolingual institution – no longer Afrikaans but now completely English.

“Let me say this very clearly – this is not true," Prof De Villiers stated.

In terms of the University's new Language Policy, which was approved by Council in June 2016 with the concurrence of Senate and implemented from this year, both English and Afrikaans are used as languages of instruction – the former so that nobody is excluded and the latter because there is still a great demand for teaching in this language.

A gradual shift in demographics and language distribution is taking place among SU students. In 2015, the University for the first time had more English-speaking (44%) than Afrikaans-speaking (42%) students.

Earlier this year, a survey among undergraduate students indicated that 61% of respondents preferred knowledge transfer in English. Some of them have no command of Afrikaans at all. However, this still leaves 39% of undergraduate students who prefer instruction in either Afrikaans or both Afrikaans and English, which amounts to nearly 8 000 students, Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, Vice-Rector for Learning and Teaching at SU, pointed out.

He explained that the new Language Policy makes provision for three language-of-instruction modes – parallel medium, double medium and single medium – and emphasised that Afrikaans is present in all three.

“We have a great appreciation for the value of language, but the focus of the University is pedagogical. We are not a language and culture organisation. For the University, language is a medium for learning and teaching," Prof Schoonwinkel said.

“The emphasis has shifted from language rights to language justice. The Constitution gives everyone the right to education in the language of their choice, as far as possible, but also requires correction of the kind of exclusion that has occurred in the past due to language of instruction. The Language Policy therefore follows an inclusive approach of multilingualism."

Members of the education community welcomed the information session.

“Any reasonable person can see that Afrikaans is not being abolished," Mr Danie van Wyk of the South African Educational Development Trust said about the SU Language Policy. “It is about accommodating everyone in the context of our shared South African identity."

“It makes a lot of sense. And I'm particularly impressed with the monitoring aspect of the policy – that there is oversight of implementation and that continuous adjustments are being made to ensure that it is applied correctly," Dr Fernholdt Galant of the WCED said.

·         The SU Language Policy is available on the University's homepage:

·         Click here for Prof De Villiers' address

·         Click here for Prof Schoonwinkel's presentation

CAPTION: From left, Mr Danie van Wyk, Western Cape Manager of the SA Education Development Trust, Mrs Mary Banda, Principal of Klein Nederburg Secondary, Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Dr Fernholdt Galant and Mrs Linda Marais, Circuit Managers of the Western Cape Education Department in Wellington and Paarl respectively, and Prof Michael le Cordeur, Chair of the Departement of Curriculum Studies in SU's Faculty of Education.

Multilingual mobile dictionary help students master concepts​

mobile dictionary.jpg

Author: Corporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie​

New education students sometimes find it difficult to master concepts that are used in their courses. And because they do not understand concepts, they struggle with reading comprehension and to submit good written assignments.

"The development of concept literacy  ̶  the ability to read and understand subject-specific terminology  ̶  is a major challenge for many students," say Drs Carina America and Michele van der Merwe, two lecturers in the Department of Curriculum Studies at Stellenbosch University (SU).

America teaches Economics and Management Science subjects and Van der Merwe Afrikaans to education students. Van der Merwe is also a lexicographer i.e. someone who compiles dictionaries.

They joined forces to develop a multilingual cell phone dictionary that can help students understand concepts used in Economic and Management Sciences. This "subject dictionary", known as MobiLex, is written in such a way that students can easily access it from their mobile phones. The project came to fruition in collaboration with SU's Language Centre and the assistance of the Centre's Head: Advancement of isiXhosa, Pumlani M Sibula.

America says the dictionary is written specifically for students who want to teach Economics and Management Science subjects in schools. She adds that MobiLex explains concepts to students in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

MobiLex is currently available on the SU website and students can access it through their mobile phones and computers. According to Van der Merwe, the next challenge is to develop MobiLex into an app that students can download onto their mobile phones.

The concept of MobiLex was developed four years ago by their colleague Professor Christa van der Walt to specifically address the problem of concept literacy.

"MobiLex wants to help students gain easier access to the explanation of concepts."

"This is not just an ordinary dictionary; it is a subject dictionary that explains concepts in the way the lecturer would like them to be explained."

"The dictionary is designed in such a way that it can easily be used on a cellphone. It is also updated regularly," says Van der Merwe.

"If students sit in the class and have access to the internet, they can use their computers or phones to search MobiLex for the meaning of concepts that they do not understand."

America is of the view that if students know the meaning of a particular concept, it can improve their understanding of such a concept and develop their ability to read a specific text critically. It also helps them to write better assignments.

"MobiLex can thus be a source of support to improve students' writing and reading skills."

Van der Merwe points out that students are happy that they can use MobiLex on their mobile phones and in the classroom.

"Students say it also helps to use MobiLex outside the classroom especially if there are certain concepts that they did not fully understand during a lecture and could not look up in time."

Van der Merwe says that even though the dictionary is aimed at undergraduates, it has also been extended to senior students.

They point out that in addition to Economic and Management Sciences MobiLex have been used successfully in other subjects in the Faculty of Education namely Educational Psychology, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Curriculum Studies.

The two lecturers say they recently had visitors from Europe who were impressed with MobiLex. They add that teachers also asked when MobiLex would be available in schools.

Photo: Pixabay


Dr Carina America (EMS)

Department of Curriculum Studies

Faculty of Education

Stellenbosch University

Tel: 021 808 3793



Dr Michele van der Merwe (MobiLex)

Department of Curriculum Studies

Faculty of Education

Stellenbosch University

Tel: 021 808 2396


​Curriculum Studies Xhosa ​Cultural Day

March 2017 



CHAE hosts successful international conference

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BEd 4 Afrikaans (Ed) Exhibition: Theory into Practice

BEd 2 Exhibition: Construction of Beginning Knowledge through Integrated LearningDr Michael Le Cordeur receives Chansellor's Award


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​André Brink: What a literary giant!

Woman's day, Atlantis, 7 August 2014


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​​Rachel's Angels pass with 100%

​​Freedom Day celebrations, Sunday 27 April 2014

Rachel's Angels.jpg Top­-performers of Media24 Rachel’s Angels ­mentoring programme was honored at a function in Franschhoek last Saturday night. This programme is a partnership between Media24, the WCED and Stellenbosch University and boasts a 100% pass rate in the past matric exam. The trustees aim to mentor, train and support learners from disadvantaged schools in order to gain access to tertiary studies. From left are trustee, Heindrich Wyngaard, media manager of the University of Stellenbosch Business School, Rolene Liebenberg, trustee of Rachel’s Angels Trust, the TV­presenter Elana Afrika-­Bredenkamp who acted as hostess, prof. Rachel Jafta, one of the founders and currently chairman of the project, dr. Michael le Cordeur, co-founder and vice-chairman, from the Faculty of Education at the University of Stellenbosch, Neil Jansen, trustee from Rachel’s Angels Trust, en Esmaré Weideman, executive chief at Media24. (Die Burger, Apr 12 2014, Page 6)

Vryheidsdagvieringe.jpg At the Western Cape government's Freedom Day celebrations on Sunday, April 27, 2014 in Cape Town, former president FW de Klerk acted as speaker. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was unable to attend the function, but his speech was read by Prof. Mtetwa (vice-chairman of the Artscape Board of Directors). At the event, Dr. Michael le Cordeur (Chairman – B.Ed-programme committee) and Marlene le Roux (Director of Artscape) handed a copy of their book '100 years of untold stories of the minstrels' to ex-President F.W. de Klerk. On the photo from left are: Marlene Le Roux, Dr. Michael le Cordeur, Prof. Mtetwa, Mr. FW De Klerk and Mr. Herman Bailey who handled the logistical work for the book.