The result of this development is that pupils are “not receiving the quality of teaching they’re supposed to be getting,” the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) admitted on Wednesday following a debate in parliament.
Clarifying the situation, SADTU general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the problem was not that the teachers were not qualified per se‚ but rather it was that they were being made to teach the wrong subjects due to lack of enough specialised teachers to handle particular subjects.
With mathematics and the sciences the subjects hardest hit by this negative trend‚ education authorities said recently the solution to the problem might have to come from outside South Africa’s borders.
Responding to a parliamentary question by the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA)‚ the national education ministry admitted that 5‚139 teachers – the vast majority of which are in the rural KwaZulu-Natal Province‚ which stands at the heart of the problem – are either unqualified or under-qualified.
While this was an improvement from 2014 (6‚719 teachers) and 2015 (6‚030 teachers)‚ it was still a worrying situation. There are 435‚000 teachers across the country, according to a 2016 statistical study released by the education ministry.
The ministry said: “The focus of at a national level is to address the supply of educators through various initiatives, including the appointment of foreign educators qualified to teach scarce skills.”
Newly appointed DA shadow education minister Ian Ollis said the implications of situation were severe. The solution lay in specialist facilities for new teachers, he said.
Ollis added: “We need teacher colleges urgently re-introduced. On the job management for school principals and subject training for the under-educated teachers [is also needed].”