Diplomas in Gr. R teaching at NQF Level 6 were awarded at a graduation ceremony at the Horseshoe Inn on 30 October.The graduates had been given bursaries with the North-West University (NWU) in 2015 to study the mentioned qualification. The bursary funds were provided by the Northern Cape Department of Education, as well as De Aar Solar Power and Droogfontein Solar Power. By achieving an NQF Level 6 qualification, these 39 Gr. R practitioners now have a diploma in Gr. R teaching and can study a BEd degree over three years, instead of four years, an opportunity that many are willing to take up.Congratulating the graduates, Palesa Thulo, director of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Directorate, lauded them for being the first in the province to acquire the qualification through distance learning. “A bursary for studying a BEd programme has already been initiated by the Northern Cape Department of Education through the help of the Education, Training and Development Practices Sector Education and Training Authority (ETDP Seta) and 20 of the practitioners have been enrolled with the North-West University,” explained Thulo.She acknowledged that the partnership was aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning in Gr. R, so that a solid foundation of learning is established from early on for the province’s children.“We would like to thank De Aar Solar Power and Droogfontein Solar Power for giving the opportunity to 50 Gr. R practitioners in 2015, some of whom have graduated and are here today. The two companies have again given another 50 practitioners an opportunity this year to also study for a diploma in Gr. R teaching (finishing in 2021),” revealed Thulo. She expressed the province’s pride in being the first to respond to the minister of Education’s appeal that by 2019 all Gr. R practitioners should meet the NQF Level 6 qualification requirements. “Education is everybody’s business. Therefore, partnership with the public and private sector is of the utmost importance, because it assists in stretching the hand of the department in uplifting our communities and in the betterment of education,” she concluded.