News clipping – Sunday Tribune – 10 October 2010

We want you to teach: department

The national education department is seeking to secure international funding to support local university teacher programmes, particularly those focused on teaching grades 1 to 3. This comes as changes to the foundation phase, grades 1 to 3, are to be implemented next year to improve numeracy and literacy.

Director of teacher education in the Department of Higher Education and Training, Whitfield Green, said the programme was in its infancy, but was aimed at strengthening initial teacher education programmes.
“We want to expand the production and development of African-language foundation phase teachers at universities. However, I cannot divulge more information at the moment,” he said.

The initiative is one of many aimed at stopping the outflow of teachers from the profession annually. South Africa each year loses 16 000 teachers, of which 4 000 are based in KwaZulu-Natal. The reasons range from resignation to retirement, death or termination. Last year there were 368 587 public school teachers and 24 577 private school teachers.
“Teacher supply and demand is a complex issue impacted by a variety of factors. Currently we are not producing enough new teachers to meet the system’s needs. About 16 446 teachers would need to be replaced annually to maintain the status quo.”

However, just over 7 500 teachers are expected to graduate this year – despite efforts by the department to boost enrolment in teaching courses. In 2008 5 939 teachers graduated across the country.
“Twelve thousand qualified graduates in 2014 has been set as a target. We know that the teacher production system must grow to adequately meet the needs of the country and there are a number of initiatives we are working on to achieve this target, “ Green said.

Of the 23 universities in South Africa, 21 offer initial teacher education programmes, including the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Attracting students to enter the teacher profession was a priority, he said.
“The number of teachers that are needed is dependent on pupils and schools. We are trying to decrease the teacher-learner ratio to ensure a better learner success rate overall,” said Green.

By Charmel Bowman