/ 22 April 2005

The future is about the right skills

A microchip company that brought South Africa the first-ever computer clubhouse is once again investing in the development of the country’s youth, this time through teachers.

Intel is introducing an educator development programme called Teach to the Future to train teachers how to integrate technology effectively into their current lesson plan, so as to enhance classroom learning. According to program representative, Parthy Chetty, its aim is to develop educators and student-educators as professionals. ‘This is the ideal model to improve the proficiency of educators to handle the challenges of tomorrow. At the same time, the learners are being equipped with the basic information, communication and technology skills demanded by

the workplace and tertiary institutions,” he says.

Chetty says the programme is ‘not a traditional how-to-operate-a-PC training”. He describes it as a programme that ‘trains educators how, when and where to incorporate technology tools and resources into their current lesson plans, and align them with district, state and national standards”.

The Intel Teach to the Future programme is expected to start before the end of March this year. It is open free of charge to in-service and pre-service educators who have access to a computer at their school. The need to have hands-on access to computers is to reinforce the newly acquired skills. A prerequisite to enrolment into the programme is three to five years’ teaching experience and experience in teaching adults is an advantage.

Participating teachers will receive training and resources, which include 20 hours of take-home work and a 40-hour, 10-module workshop, which will cover the Internet, Web page design and multimedia software in their content-focused lesson plans. ‘In addition, they are instructed on how best to create assessment tools and align lessons with educational learning goals,” says Chetty.

Intel will, through a training agency called SchoolsNetSA, train 4 000 inservice and preservice educators to be master facilitators who will in turn train participant educators. Master facilitators will receive intensive five-day training of about 10 hours per day. Each is expected to train about 100 educators over three years on completion of the program and will receive a laptop as an incentive to build on their own skills.

The programme is part of the biggest ever teacher-training initiative in the world. It forms part of Intel’s Innovation in Education initiative – a multi-million-Rand effort to help realise the possibilities of science and technology in education. It is presented with the support of Microsoft Corporation and has already trained up to a million educators in 26 countries. The programme is always carried out in collaboration with ministries of education or other government departments and the curriculum adapted for each location. The local initiative forms part of the official professional development programme of the South African Council of Educators and its curriculum is being adapted by the University of Pretoria’s faculty of education.