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Even In The Virtual Classroom, Teachers Remain The Heartbeat Of Any Serious Basic Education Department, Says Motshekga

BASIC Education Minister Angie Motshekga has paid has paid tribute to the country’s 400 000 teachers as the country joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Teachers’ Day.

Motshekga described teachers as a national treasure and said they were indispensable and critical in government’s efforts to steer the country back into the critical growth path after years of inertia, State Capture and general malfeasance.

Motshekga celebrated World Teachers’ Day at the Mamelodi Teachers’ Centre in Pretoria.

This year, the Department of Basic Education’s theme for the occasion is: ‘Teachers: Leading in crisis, re-imagining the future’.

“Without the over 400 000 teachers on the payroll of the State servicing over 12 million children, the system will collapse,” said Motshekga.

Motshekga also paid tribute to teachers and school staff who died from the coronavirus.

On June 8, the country began the gradual reopening of schools, having been closed since March, after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the country.

At least 11 teachers succumbed to the deadly virus while a total of 2 740 out of total workforce of 400 000 were infected.

“I am happy to announce that all our teachers heeded the call to return to school since the lapse of working from the home arrangement as part of the country’s measures to combat the spread of the virus,” said Motshekga.

“Sadly, some teachers have succumbed to the virus and other ailments. We send our deepest condolences to the bereaved families. Your loss cuts deep into our souls. Be comforted that your loved ones have run their race. Ours is to pick up the spear and soldier on. The dearly departed will continue to live amongst us in our hearts. You will surely be missed.”

Motshekga also dismissed the perception that South African teachers were not qualified, saying this was nothing but a tissue of lies.

She said the country has greatly improved the quality of teachers.

“Only 54 percent of teachers were qualified in 1994, but today out of over 400 000 teachers, only a statistically insignificant number is still completing their qualifications,” said Motshekga.

She said according to the Centre for Development & Enterprise (CDE) latest (March 2015) report, ‘it produced some noteworthy and surprising findings of the current teaching force.’

The CDE used data based on over 400, 000 teachers, who were South African citizens between the ages of 22 and 65, from the Annual School Survey (ASS) data, it produced the following profile of the South African teaching force:

  • Eighty-one per cent qualified: 66 per cent had an M+3 qualification, and 15 per cent had an M+4.
  • Nineteen per cent unqualified: In education terminology, an unqualified teacher is a person who doesn’t have an initial teacher training or postgraduate teaching certificate, yet they have the necessary three-year diploma/degree in a subject they teach.
  • In 2013, we had 10 per cent of teachers who had the equivalent of an M+3 qualification, but no professional teaching qualification, and about another 10 per cent had an M+2 or lower.

She added: “Just to show that our teachers are life-long learners between 2012 and 2013, 31 per cent of teachers upgraded from unqualified to qualified while in employment, this exceeded the 22 per cent of new teacher graduates who entered the profession for the first time in 2013. This trend has continued over the years.”

“This suggests that the majority of teachers build up their qualifications on the job, often over many years. In fact, by 2017, the number of unqualified teachers was less than 5000, including the underqualified teacher cohort.”

(COMPILED BY INSIDE EDUCATION STAFF)

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