A University Open Learning Course Focusing on Academic Reading and Writing

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF2 // Central to university access is language proficiency in the chosen medium of instruction (Blue 1993:5, Johns 1993:274). Thus, effective language support could mean the difference between success or failure at tertiary level. This paper outlines a programme for the teaching of English academic language skills within the context of an open learning programme which aims to redress past inequities at tertiary level in South Africa. // The English language course is taught within the context of the Career Preparation Programme (CPP) which provides an alternative access route to tertiary and higher education for out-of-school and out-of-work young adults who possess a matriculation certificate, but fail to meet the entrance requirements of tertiary institutions (Strydom 1996:5). The planning phases of the programme involved lengthy negotiations with local community leaders and leaders in education in the Free State region. These negotiations were aimed at discovering the educational needs of the regional community so as to ensure that the university addressed these needs. The process was recorded in a working document compiled by the (then) head of the Interim Management Committee of the University of the Free State (Strydom 1996:11). This process of consultation in the Free State region proved so successful that it led to the formation of a representative board who would determine policy and take management decisions regarding co-operative initiatives and resultant programmes. The driving force behind the effort was to provide learners with open access to tertiary institutions of their choice, whether it be university, technikon or technical college. The establishment of this bridging programme was preceded by a pilot study which was aimed at researching the feasibility and viability of an OL programme in rural areas. The project was undertaken by the South African Institute for Distance Education. //

South Africa