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Durban - The new maths, science and technology teachers who are being churned out by South African universities are not up to scratch, said a ministerial task team appointed by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
The team’s findings were based on interviews with education officials and staff at schools in all the provinces.
The team investigated how the Department of Basic Education’s maths, science and technology strategy was being implemented in each province.
The aim was to increase the number of historically disadvantaged Grade 12 pupils taking maths and physical science, and to improve the capacity of teachers to deliver quality education in these subjects.
The task team was told that the teaching qualifications and training offered by higher education institutions was “inadequate”, and that new teachers were not “classroom ready”.
The team said that there were “issues” with the quality of new teachers, and that universities needed to be guided by Motshekga’s department to align teaching qualifications with the needs of the schooling system.
These comments echoed the sentiments of teachers at a recent World Teachers’ Day round table discussion, held in Durban. Teachers complained about the abilities of their new colleagues who had graduated with a post-graduate certificates in education and Bachelor of Education (BEd) degrees.
This week, the president of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa, said that, while there were exceptions, some had been “dismal”.
“Are there many graduates coming out of the system who are questionable? Yes,” Basil Manuel said.
However, he said that it could have something to do with the attitude of new teachers and the reasons why they entered the profession.
But Allen Thompson, the deputy president of the National Teachers’ Union, disagreed.
“We’ve never received any complaints, and we work hand in glove with principals.”
He said that it needed to be determined which institutions the poorly trained graduates were coming from.
Diane Parker, the acting deputy director-general of the university education unit at the department, said that the curriculum framework for teacher education had been developed in conjunction with the Basic Education Department.
In 2011 the two departments produced a 200-page planning document on how to improve and strengthen teacher development over the next 14 years. That same year, Higher Education minister Blade Nzimande also published a policy stipulating the minimum requirements for teacher qualifications.
Parker said that new teachers needed mentorship in their first year in the classroom.
“Like with any other profession they require a period to learn about the difficulty of managing a classroom.”