Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wanted: 94000 teachers, urgently..pretty please

Living in South Africa takes nerves of steel. If isn't surviving the crime scourge, corruption and collapse of basic services, Eskom and now water being the latest disaster, we now face a critical need for teachers thanks to "poor government planning". Man, the ANC has cornered the market on fucking up.

We need good teachers if only to keep the little fcukers in class and away from shagging each other or causing mischief - but more importantly to stop more Julius Malemas rising to the top. Think about it. Julius Malema could be a government minister one day...ugghh.

What's the government response? "Duncan Hindle...
rejected suggestions that pupils found teaching unattractive as a career, saying there was “enormous” demand for the government’s teacher bursary scheme." Well, no wonder we have problems. They are always right and the experts are wrong.

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By 2015, 18000 will die, 42000 will retire, while 2000 emigrate annually

South Africa faces a shortage of up to 94000 teachers by 2015,
thanks to poor government planning and the effects of Aids-related illnesses. Analysts have warned of an education crisis, while unions have demanded that teacher training colleges be reopened to deal with the issue.

Up to 42000 teachers are expected to retire over the next seven years, according to a report by the Education, Training and Development Practices Seta. The report, which deals with the skills shortage in the education sector, was handed to the Department of Labour in August but has not yet been released.

In addition, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released a report, commissioned by the Department of Education, which points out that while 20000 new teachers have been needed every year for the past few years to replace those who have left, only 6000 have qualified.

And of these, only 4000 enter the system while the rest leave to teach in the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Dubai.

On Tuesday, education experts will meet in Johannesburg to discuss the crisis at a South African Council for Educators seminar. Unions and analysts this week again blamed poor salaries for the lack of interest in teaching as a career.

Teachers with a four-year degree earn just under R130000 in their first year in the job. Of the 433280 teaching posts in South African schools, 62616 were vacant at the end of May, and 31949 posts were staffed by under-qualified, temporary teachers.

The Department of Education is now so desperate to plug the gaps that it has hired a recruitment agency to lure foreign teachers. But Limpopo province, which desperately needs 1600 maths and science teachers, has only managed to attract 300 Zimbabwean teachers so far.

The province has also only managed to entice 97 pupils to train as maths and science teachers since last year — despite making available 500 bursaries, each worth R50000 per student per year. The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) said the Education Department needed 10000 more teachers a year for grade 1 alone if it wanted to reduce class sizes from 40 to 30 pupils in that grade.

The Seta report says the shortage of teachers is “nothing less than a crisis for the formal education sector”. It also warns that the HIV/Aids pandemic could prove to be one of the biggest contributors to the mass shortage of teachers.

HIV/Aids is already taking its toll on teacher numbers as:

  • Two hundred out of 500 National Teachers’ Union (Natu) members who volunteered for Aids tests between last October and this September tested HIV-positive; and
  • Naptosa suspects that most of its 250 members who died in Gauteng this year died of Aids-related illnesses.
South African Democratic Teachers’ Union general secretary Thulas Nxesi slammed the Education Department for not “factoring in” HIV/Aids in its calculations on teacher supply. “We are starting to enter a critical period where those who were infected are now dying,” he said.

Sadtu and Naptosa have demanded the reopening of teacher training colleges shut down in the ’90s by the ANC government in a move to rationalise higher education institutions. Nxesi said Sadtu had recently decided to “vigorously campaign” for their reopening because “no proper teacher training was taking place at universities”. He said the Education Department did not know how bad the teacher shortage was and this was “an embarrassment”.

Wits School of Education head Professor Mary Metcalfe suggested that the government provide more bursaries, which students could repay by teaching for a minimum period. “We are not producing enough teachers although there’s capacity in the system to do so. There are several universities which, if given additional staff, could probably double the number of graduates,” she said.

The OECD report said teachers cited too much paperwork and a host of unnecessary rules as reasons for leaving the profession.

Education director-general Duncan Hindle admitted there were shortages of teachers in certain subjects, but he rejected suggestions that pupils found teaching unattractive as a career, saying there was “enormous” demand for the government’s teacher bursary scheme.

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