Wheelock Launches Graduate Certificate Program in South Africa

October 30, 2017

Wheelock College, in partnership with the University of Fort Hare (UFH) in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, this fall began delivering courses in its new Trans-disciplinary Graduate Certificate Program in Early Childhood Development (ECD) in the South African Context. The program was designed by a team that included Wheelock faculty members Lenette Azzi-Lessing and Bobbi Rosenquest, faculty from UFH, as well as staff from Wheelock's Center for International Programs and Partnerships (CIPP) and stakeholders from community-based organizations in the Eastern Cape.

Certificate class pictureProfessor Azzi-Lessing worked with colleagues in the Eastern Cape to structure and deliver the first course, Early Childhood Development in the South African Context, which began in September. More than 20 members of UFH's School of Education faculty, its graduate students, faculty from other UFH departments, and community stakeholders participated in the course, which they had played a central role in planning and delivering. This collaborative approach, which is being utilized with all four courses in the certificate program, helps ensure that all teaching and learning is contextualized to South Africa and the Eastern Cape Province in particular. In order to address early childhood development from a holistic perspective, the course drew upon local experts in a variety of fields, including psychology, health, nutrition, neuroscience, and human development.

The remaining three courses in this certificate program will be delivered in a similar manner in the coming months. The program is the result of a multi-year planning effort between UFH, Wheelock, and South Africa Partners. Its purpose is to help prepare UFH's faculty and community stakeholders for the development of degree programs in ECD and expanded training to support services to young children and their families in the Eastern Cape.

This project was funded by a planning grant from the ELMA Foundation, and Dr. Azzi-Lessing's delivery of the courses is being supported by a Fulbright Specialist Grant from the US State Department.

Lauren Thorman, Director of CIPP, notes that, ‘This capacity-building project is an illustration of Wheelock's continued commitment to international partnerships, in which faculty passion and expertise, combined with a deep understanding of community needs, serve as the impetus for a mutually beneficial collaboration. This important work expands the Wheelock mission of improving the lives of children and families globally."

Pictured: Students in the certificate program with Wheelock Prof. Lenette Azzi-Lessing (bottom right)

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