Education Department Disagrees With Predictions of Teacher Shortage
Concerns about a nationwide teacher shortage have been expressed by experts in the field of elementary education. The Basic Education Department asserts that this is not the case, claiming that numerous safeguards are in place to maintain a steady supply of trained educators.
Roughly half of the teachers in South Africa are expected to be of retiring age, which could result in the sector losing half of its labour force over the next decade according to School-Days CEO, Paul Esterhuizen, who warned of the shortage of teachers in years to come.
The basic education department’s spokesperson, Elijah Mhlalanga says that although the department’s budget is not enough to hire more teachers, there are more education graduates compared to teachers that are currently retiring.
“The year that had the highest number of teachers leaving the system was 2019 when 19 100 teachers left. After that, the number dropped to 15 000 so even with that number of 19 000 you still have more teachers graduating than those that are leaving the system and that trend is continuing so we are seeing more teachers that are graduating and teachers that are leaving”
Mhlanga also attributes the immigration of learners from more remote and rural schools to those located in the country’s major urban centres to the issue. He further points out that the introduction of the Funza Lushaka bursary has played a major role in ensuring that there are enough qualified teacher recruits in the country.
“Some schools should be closed down because there are no learners there. The Learners are migrating to the urban centres so the urban centres are giving a wrong picture,” he explains
This often results in overcrowding in schools that are located in urban centres and this is an issue that is driven by factors such as unemployment and the stagnant state of the economy.
The department has also revised the criteria for the Funza Lushaka bursary to increase the number of teachers that specialise in STEM subjects.