On 31 March 2017, the official launch of the Unisa and Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership and Governance (MGSLG) Early Childhood Development Project took place in the university’s Miriam Makeba Concert Hall.
“If history has taught us anything, it is that time has a way of erasing, softening and diluting the memories of those that have gone before us and sacrificed so much,” said Prof Mandla Makhanya, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. He reminded colleagues of Matthew Goniwe’s sacrifices and the stirring memories on which the project has been built.
The MGSLG and Unisa entered into an agreement to train 500 Grade R teachers in Gauteng. The Vice-Chancellor spoke about the project as a means of keeping alive the fire of Goniwe’s dreams.
The launch was festive and exciting; not only were the nursery and primary choirs of the Sun Sparrow and Morakoma schools singing, but so was the Early Childhood Education Department as they heralded the promising new endeavour.
“It has not been an easy road to travel. But I want to say we made it. We’re here. We made it. Some days I never thought it would come to this moment, but here we are,” said Dr More Chakane, CEO of the MGSLG, in his address. “I have the greatest respect for teachers. I come from a family of teachers. There are seven of us at home, of whom six are teachers.”
The project aims to better the quality of Grade R by improving the education of Grade R teachers in a provincial tightening of academic support. “Improving the quality of Grade R is a national priority,” said Prof Nkidi Phatudi, Chair of the Department of Early Childhood Education.
In her address, Prof Veronica McKay, Executive Dean of the College of Education (CEDU), said: “We produce almost half of the nation’s teachers. It is important that we train African-language speakers for the foundation stage to facilitate mother-tongue learning. We’re working with the Gauteng Department of Education to produce better-equipped Grade R teachers.”
Prof Gugu Moche, Vice-Principal of Teaching, Learning, Community Engagement and Student Support, stressed the importance to always remember Unisa’s tenets and to strive for a portfolio that does not deviate from the Unisa course. “We must always remain grounded on the fact that we are about the production of knowledge,” she said.
“As a country, our long-term aim should be to entrust our children to valuable teachers,” said Phatudi, as she concluded the launch to applause and high spirits.
*By Carmen Taxer