Everything Must Be Done To Promote Teaching As A Profession

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Teachers play a critical role in educating children and shaping the minds of our future generations. Several factors must be addressed to ensure the brightest minds pursue careers in the teaching profession. 

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South Africa’s Deputy President Paul Mashatile says the Department of Basic Education (DBE) should do whatever it takes to attract young people into the teaching profession. This as they acknowledged the critical role teachers play in shaping future generations.

The Deputy President was speaking at the 14th Policy Dialogue Forum of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education in Illovo, Johannesburg. The task force is a global platform for education stakeholders, which aims to foster advocacy, knowledge exchange, peer learning and monitoring progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on quality education. 

Mashatile believes that more young people would be attracted to pursue a career in the education sector if teachers were provided competitive compensation and increased recognition of achievements. 

As we gather here today, we are faced with a stark reality, which is a shortage of qualified and motivated teachers across the globe.

The Deputy President says this shortage of teachers will not only jeopardise the quality of education but also undermine the efforts to achieve inclusive and equitable education. 

Instead of disregarding the situation and continuing as if everything is going according to plan, we need to acknowledge the problem and devise a solution that is both effective and efficient.

Mashatile acknowledged that some teachers are assigned grades for which they have inadequate training and qualifications. They say efforts are underway to ensure that enough suitably qualified teachers are produced for all the grades. 

More teachers are produced for the Further Education and Training (FET) band than for the General Education and Training (GET) band. This situation has necessitated the FET band teachers to migrate to the senior phase and teach Grades 7 and 8 classes.

The deputy president said this was being addressed through the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme which aims to attract young teachers into the teaching profession and ensure they are trained to teach in areas of need. 

They added that work is also underway to improve teacher salaries and working conditions and use of contracted teachers to deal with immediate needs. 

During the 2024 Budget Speech, Finance Minister Godongwana revealed that the education sector received an additional R25.7 billion for the carry-through costs of the wage increase over the medium term. 

In 2022, the Constitutional Court dismissed an appeal brought by public sector unions after the government failed to honour the final year of increases as part of a three-year wage agreement reached in 2018. This meant that teachers did not receive increases in salaries between 2020 and 2022 when unions reluctantly accepted a 3% increase

More Challenges In Teaching Profession 

Enoch Rabotapi, Chief Director for National Institute of Curriculum and Professional Development says South Africa does not face the challenge of recruiting individuals to pursue a career in teaching. They believe the challenge is what teachers are being trained to teach. 

Rabotapi emphasised the need for a focus on both the quantity and quality of teachers, pointing out disparities in subject expertise and the mismatch between trained teachers and available posts.

They add that teacher shortages, budget constraints and concerns over the quality of education remain a challenge. 

Hendrick Makaneta, an education activist, echoed Rabotapi's concerns, particularly regarding the impact of budget constraints on addressing teacher shortages. 

The issue of austerity measures at the moment is a problem, but I think this issue depends on the issue of the financial years so it's a shifting Target probably we will be going into the new Financial year where there will be new allocations and these allocations will be used of course to address some of the challenges.

Makaneta also emphasised the need to address disparities between public and private sector salaries and working conditions to retain talented teachers in the public sector.

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teacher in the classroom

Teachers play a critical role in educating the next generation. However, budget cuts could have severe consequences as schools are forced to slow down teacher recruitment. 


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