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Shortage of teachers in SA despite thousands of graduates

Sameera Casmod |
16 October 2023 | 12:31pm CAT
2-min read

Picture: Adobe Stock

The shortage of qualified teachers in South Africa has become a matter of growing concern, with an annual shortfall of approximately 10 000 teachers despite an influx of 15 000 fresh graduates annually. In an interview on Radio Islam International this morning, Dr Tulsi Morar, the acting executive dean of the faculty of education at Nelson Mandela University, and education expert Jonathan Molver discussed the critical factors contributing to this educational crisis.

During the dialogue, Dr Morar underscored the demographic shift within the teaching workforce, quoting the projection made in 2015 that nearly 50% of the existing workforce could retire or leave the profession in the coming decade.

Molver expanded on the issue of an aging teaching workforce, reporting that over 46% of teachers are over the age of 50. Molver noted that the problem is further exacerbated by a host of interconnected challenges that include inadequate resources, increasing school enrolments, and insufficient educators proficient in teaching students in their home languages.

While addressing the perception of teaching as a career choice, Dr Morar emphasised the prevailing notion among today’s youth that teaching lacks financial allure and recognition. Citing long working hours, low salaries, and inadequate school conditions, many prospective students are dissuaded from pursuing a teaching career, favouring more financially rewarding and glamorous options.

Molver emphasised that the scarcity is not just about numbers, but the quality of educators, stressing the need to elevate teaching from a mere vocation to a full-fledged profession. To achieve this, both guests emphasised the significance of improving admission standards in universities, better communicating the comprehensive rewards of teaching, and cultivating strong cultures of professional development to attract and retain bright minds in the education sector.

In a bid to address the scarcity, the experts highlighted the imperative role of the government, universities, and existing teachers in building a robust pipeline of aspiring educators. While acknowledging the strain on the national department and its inherent constraints, they stressed the importance of joint efforts, calling for a collective approach to fostering a brighter future for the upcoming generation.

As South Africa grapples with this educational challenge, the call to action echoes the need for comprehensive reforms and collaborative initiatives across all sectors to revitalise the education landscape and inspire a new wave of dedicated, capable educators.

The discussion serves as a poignant reminder of the profound impact of quality education and the critical role teachers play in shaping the future of the nation.

Listen to the  full interview on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat:


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