The compulsory six-week teaching experience for Wits Education students is faced with difficulty, with some students beginning their program late due to administrative issues.

A NUMBER of Wits School of Education students were not able to begin their six-week teaching experience (TE) on Monday, July 22, as expected for a number of reasons, including supervisors’ alleged fear of visiting high-crime areas.

Other reasons were either being rejected by their placement school or because they had not yet received their travel stipend.

A student who did not want to be named told Wits Vuvuzela she was currently stranded because the first school she was assigned to did not offer the subject she signed up to teach (computer applications technology).

She was also turned away from the second school because it was already full.

“Teaching experience is compulsory. I am very worried my peers are in class teaching already,” she said.

Deputy Head of School Professor Lee Rusznyak said, “Many other universities require students to find their own placement, but in our case we have a system where we allocate students and place them.

“We have 2 500 students and 700 schools to allocate them to. It is a huge undertaking.”

Rusznyak told Wits Vuvuzela, “There are bound to be complexities when dealing with 700 other institutions beyond yourself.

“If they are rejected, we try to find the best possible alternative placement for affected students.”

Among alleged reasons given was also a claim that supervisors were reluctant to go to schools where potential crime was a concern.

It was alleged the pool of schools students could be allocated to was smaller because supervisors feared being hijacked in those areas, forcing students to find alternatives.

Rusznyak rejected the claims, saying they were “simply not true”.

“We do not categorise the schools in clusters according to the type of school, but rather by location, and we would not put students in areas we are not prepared to supervise in,” she told Wits Vuvuzela.

Third-year student Simon Lebuka said he had not yet received the travel stipend and therefore found it difficult to go to the school he is allocated to.

“It is very hard, because I had to borrow money to travel and buy food for lunch,” Lebuka told Wits Vuvuzela. “I have to smile for the kids I teach, as if everything is okay,” he said.

“The school used to provide a small travel stipend to the most vulnerable students,” said Rusznyak.

“We have now introduced work-based learning that was processed into students’ bank accounts in June. About 96% of students have received their allowances.

“The remaining 4% outstanding either did not register for teaching experience or it has not yet reflected because they use different bank accounts,” she said.

Chairperson of the Education Students’ Council, Collen Maneli, said, “We had foreseen all these challenges as the ESC, but management is only being reactive now.”

Maneli said the TE school allocation process was inefficient and needed to be reviewed.


FEATURED IMAGE: Some Wits Education students are yet to begin teaching experience