Durban - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says the country is on track to eliminate teacher shortages by 2030.
Speaking at the Sadtu choral music festival in Durban on Friday, Motshekga said that the country was making significant strides in teacher education and training.
“Our commitment to future generations is evident in the investments we’ve made. If we maintain our current trajectory, our nation will not face a teacher shortage by the close of this decade.”
Motshekga added that the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme has played a major role in training teachers.
“Since the programme’s initiation, it has overseen the training and integration of an impressive 52 099 teachers from 2007 to 2023. Over the past decade and seven months (from 2013 to August 2023), a robust 82% of the 47 340 educators trained have been integrated into the educational system.”
Motshekga said the figures equated to a substantial placement of around 4 300 graduates each year, accounting for 20-25% of all graduates entering the public basic education system.
She added that between 2007 and 2022 government’s investment across all higher education institutions has reached more than R13 billion.
“In 2023 alone 10 864 students received funding, an investment of over R1 billion. Research from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) highlights the dual challenges of an ageing teaching workforce and a spike in learner numbers. To maintain the current learner-educator ratio South Africa will need approximately 428 000 educators by 2030.”
South African Democratic Teachers’ Union provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said there were still unemployed teachers waiting to get jobs.
“Schools have teacher shortages yet there are so many unemployed qualified teachers. There are people who graduated in 2016 but they are still unemployed.
“You end up asking yourself whether the country is not over producing teachers or whether universities are producing teachers that are not needed by the department.”
Caluza added that in dealing with teacher shortages, there needed to be continuous engagements between the Department of Basic Education and Department of Higher Education and Training.
“There must be no mismatch between one that produces teachers and the other which utilises the produced teachers. The department must indeed invest in production of teachers but also ensure that those in the system are fit for purpose. Teachers must be motivated through incentives and improved conditions of service. The department must also keep check of the mental wellness of its teachers.”
National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa KZN chief executive Thirona Moodley said the union supported teacher training and attracting new entrants to the profession.
“However, the quality of the applicant is essential. We cannot have a situation where applicants want to become teachers because they will receive a bursary or want to work for the government.
“Applicants must have a passion to teach and must be strong academically. Choosing the profession must be their first choice, above all else. In this way we will ensure we have a system of qualified and committed educators.”
National Teachers’ Union (Natu) president Sibusiso Malinga said the department has failed to eliminate teacher shortages.
“Teachers cannot work to their maximum ability because classes are full, they can’t even attend to learners according to their individual needs, which compromises the teaching and learning for our poor learners.”
Malinga added that Natu has concerns about the Funza Lushaka scheme.
“We have a number of senior citizens that found money from nowhere to pay for the tertiary education for their children and their children are not given priority for job opportunities because they did not benefit from the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme.
“It looks like the government does not appreciate those who tried to pay for their children at tertiary level by prioritising bursary holders, it makes no sense to us. Let them be treated equally.”