Rationale and Purpose

The teacher is the main catalyst for successful learning by confident learners. Understanding the challenges teachers face as well as teacher capacities, roles and responsibilities is key to developing and supporting an effective teaching force in our country.

Teachers Upfront seminars are a platform designed to support, develop and acknowledge the contribution made by teachers. A wide spectrum of role players in education participate in the seminars and have, collaboratively, built up a large knowledge repository on issues affecting teachers and teaching.

The seminar audience includes a high proportion of teachers as well as government representatives, funders, NGOs, academics and others. Speakers propose practical steps educators can take in the classroom to apply learnings from the seminars. The main objective of these dialogues is to create a positive, solution-focused forum for educators to reflect on their work together and learn from recent developments in research in education.

Key Activities

Each year the Teachers Upfront partners host six seminars on a variety of topics under a central theme. The three thematic areas that have been tackled and completed include:

  • The central role of teachers (2011 – 2012)
  • Language in education (2012 – 2013)
  • Working practice in education (2013 – 2014)

These 18 seminars have generated debate about a range of issues, including inclusion, schools and their communities, and teacher professionalism.

The theme of the fourth Series of Teachers Upfront is “Focus on Teacher Development”. This series will look at a number of relevant and topical issues. The first three seminars were hosted in the second half of 2014 on the following topics:

  • Bridging the divide between new teachers and classroom effectiveness
  • Alternative approaches to school discipline
  • Using ICT in Teaching and learning: Issues and Challenges

Each dialogue is followed by an article on the content which was published by the Mail&Guardian. Link to News & Media on the BRIDGE website to access these articles.

Link to the BRIDGE Knowledge Hub for meeting highlights, presentations, tools and documented working practice from the Teachers Upfront seminars


The Teachers Upfront dialogues are the result of a partnership that originally included the Wits School of Education, the University of Johannesburg’s Education faculty, BRIDGE and the Mail&Guardian. The partners began working together in 2010. The first seminar was held in March 2011; by December 2014 a total of 21 seminars have been held in Gauteng. At the initiation of the second series of seminars, the Sci-Bono discovery Centre became the fifth partner.

In May 2012, the Mail&Guardian published a consolidated set of articles from the first series of seminars as a supplement.

In July 2013, a second booklet was published in the Mail&Guardian summarising all the dialogues in the Language in Education series.

All the seminar articles published in the Mail & Guardian can be located at http://mg.co.za/tag/teachers-upfront

For more information on the seminars email: benter@bridge.org.za


The Teachers Upfront seminars are invaluable for both educators and other stakeholders like myself; for example, by attending the seminars I have met a number of subject matter experts, some of whom Zenex has gone on to work with on our own programmes.

Lauren Fok , Zenex Foundation