New building to boost early childhood education

2016-04-06 06:00
The new NMMU building tailor-made for budding foundation phase teachers. Photo: SUPPLIED

The new NMMU building tailor-made for budding foundation phase teachers. Photo: SUPPLIED

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A BRAND new building tailor-made for budding foundation phase (Grade R to 3) teachers, studying towards their BEd degrees at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) was launched on Monday.

The new building is at NMMU’s Missionvale Campus and has been designed around a brand new curriculum and teaching philosophy as part of NMMU’s bold efforts to grow more teachers in this critical first phase of a child’s schooling.

The university’s re-curriculated BEd Foundation Phase programme is a benchmark approach in South Africa’s Foundation Phase education.

Dr Tulsi Morar, Operations Manager of the Faculty of Education said, “We have deliberately chosen Missionvale Campus as the location for the re-curriculated Foundation Phase programme, as it is situated close to a large number of primary schools in Zwide, Missionvale and New Brighton.”

Morar added, “Its situation complements the Foundation Phase programme’s practice of partnering with schools that provide the challenges we need to address in South Africa if education and teacher education is to make a real difference.”

The new R56m building, which was completed in January after a year-long construction process, has been custom-designed to accommodate the BEd Foundation Phase’s new curriculum, and the Reggio Emilia philosophy of child development behind it.

This philosophy, with its metaphor of “the hundred languages of children”, draws on drama, music, art and languages to help teachers tap into the full potential of the children they are teaching.

The new building’s inviting, versatile learning spaces with movable furniture can be used for lectures, music, drama and meeting rooms. They can also be utilised for afterschool programmes, such as literacy development.

“The building has been designed to accommodate 400 students,” said NMMU Construction Manager: Infrastructure Bill McLachlan.

From this year, 200 third and fourth-year students are attending lectures in the new building on Missionvale Campus, but all Foundation Phase students will shift there in 2017.

Postgraduate facilities have been included to encourage greater numbers of students to conduct postgraduate research in Foundation Phase education. Several Masters and PhD students are already enrolled.

Expected to meet the needs of today’s “digital generation”, each lecture venue is equipped with the latest audio-visual equipment and Wi-Fi. The main lecture venue, seating 100 students, has a “hearing loop” to accommodate students that are hearing impaired.

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