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Department Faces Looming Teacher Shortage

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga

South African universities will have to double their current output of qualified teachers to cope with the loss of teachers that will be retiring over the coming decade.

Education economist Martin Gustafsson says that an exceptional peak of teachers will be retiring in the coming decade. He says this process has already started. This will have an impact on the number of teachers in South African classrooms. Gustafsson believes this will see the demand for teachers being doubled by the year 2030.

The capacity of universities will also need to increase in order to match the demand. Gustafsson proposed allowing university students who have not qualified fully to be a teacher, to complete their qualification while they are working in schools.

He says that these issues can start to be addressed by “ramping up the capacity of New training centres, in particular, the universities in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape which are specifically aimed or largely aimed at training teachers [and] existing universities that have been producing teachers will have to improve their capacity”.

In a statement released in April, the department said there was an oversupply of teachers. “Universities produce an estimated total of 25 000 teachers a year, who are not able to get employment in the system due to the lack of capacity to absorb all of them”.

The statement came after Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga announced that there were 24 000 vacancies across the country. According to the department, her comments were misunderstood. They explained that even though there is a vacancy, it does not mean that there is no one occupying the vacant position on a contract basis.

Motshekga said “once this process has been finalised and the residual vacant posts have been filled through the appointment of educators from outside the system, the actual number of vacancies will be lower than the current rate”,

The department also announced the following measures as part of their teacher recruitment strategy.

  • A register of qualified, yet unemployed graduates.
  • The national recruitment base is a register of qualified teachers who are not in the teaching profession.
  • The district and community-based teacher recruitment strategy for the Funza Lushaka bursary programme.

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