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Conference targets NC tourism teachers

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There is no pre-service training available at any of South Africa’s higher education institutions that formally equips and certifies teachers to teach tourism in schools

Budget travel for the family is possible. Picture: Pexels.

THE NORTHERN Cape Tourism Educators Conference (NC-TEC), the first of it kind in South Africa, kicked off in Kimberley yesterday.

The conference is hosted by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDaT) in partnership with the Northern Cape Tourism Authority (NCTA) and Global Travel and Tourism Partnership South Africa (GTTP-SA) and is aimed at capacitating tourism teachers from all over the Northern Cape and targeting those teachers who have had no previous training on delivering the curriculum in the classroom.

The conference, which runs until Friday, will focus on three aspects, namely empowerment, skills development and industry exposure.

According to DEDaT spokesperson, Vincent Cupido, the conference is hosted to assist tourism teachers who are generally “not subject specialists”.

“These teachers are in many instances unqualified or under-qualified to deliver the National Senior Certificate (NCS) curriculum for tourism and are unable to provide the pupil with specialised teaching. Due to the lack of content knowledge, exposure to industry and practical skills, these teachers are often challenged to link the relevance of content in the curriculum to the needs and demands of industry,” Cupido said.

Tourism as a subject was first introduced to the South African school curriculum in 1996, based on a curriculum developed with the support of GTTP South Africa. Since then, the number of high schools offering tourism has grown from 14 in 1996 to approximately 2 900 currently.

There are an estimated 429 000 pupils studying tourism in South African high schools.

“Whilst the significant growth of the subject is positive, it has also presented a number of challenges. First and foremost, the majority of teachers responsible for the delivery of the subject have not been trained to teach tourism. These teachers have teaching qualifications with specialisation in mathematics, languages, geography, among others, but no formal training in tourism.

“Currently, there is no pre-service training available at any of South Africa’s higher education institutions that formally equips and certifies teachers to teach tourism in schools.

“However, the national Department of Basic Education has provided in-service training opportunities to teachers delivering tourism in schools, but it is widely recognised that not all teachers have had access to the training sessions. This means that teachers largely have to draw on their own resources and knowledge in order to equip themselves to deliver the subject.

“This situation has a direct and negative impact on pupil results and employability.”

Cupido added that a tourism conference like NC-TEC is unique in South Africa and is in fact the first of its kind.

“The conference will help develop much-needed expertise and capacity within the country. This, in turn, will ultimately result in better prepared young people leaving school with a much better chance of success in the higher education system or alternatively in the transition from school into the labour market,” Cupido concluded.

Some of the highlights on yesterday’s programme included presentations centred around the Northern Cape as a “destination of choice”.