South African teachers must be qualified and knowledgeable to equip learners with skills for the 21st Century. To deliver on this mandate, they must mentor learners to improve their performance and participation rates in Mathematics, Science, Technology, Coding and Robotics. Our teachers are professionally qualified to teach but with Mathematics, certain areas like Foundation, Intermediate and Senior Phases need to be strengthened. In addition, novice teachers should be orientated and guided to perform their new teaching roles.
Teacher development and support is guided by the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework (ISPFTED, 2011 – 2025). This Framework is augmented by two other prescripts: the SADC Regional CPD Framework (2020) and the Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning (2017). The success rates of Technical Mathematics and Technical Science have improved since inception. However, Mathematics still experience some under-performance. This under-performance is generally caused by the insufficient number of teachers qualified to teach Mathematics, Science and Technical subjects; insufficient support, given an uneven and inadequate number of subject advisors in these subjects; as well as an insufficient number of appropriate Departmental Heads supervising MST subjects in secondary schools.
Mr Phillip Dikgomo, Director for Teacher Development and Implementation, explained that, “For the GET Band, high interventions include, amongst others, the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Plan for Grades 8 and 9 Mathematics and Natural Science teachers in 14 districts, implemented in 2021 and 2022. This support programme will continue in 2023, with a further expansion through regular webinar sessions. Furthermore, in partnership with the French Embassy, a hands-on Science Education Project was initiated in five provinces: the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape covering fifty schools with inquiry-based approaches. The National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT,) working with the DBE, focussed on Foundation Phase Mathematics and Grade 4-9 Natural Sciences, Technology and Mathematics to support more than 666 advisors and teachers in 2022.
Other interventions for the FET Phase, include Teacher Centres and online platforms, as well as the development of online video and broadcast material. The DBE also established an Online Teacher Development (TD) Platform with short courses from which Subject Advisors and teachers can engage on their ongoing development. During 2023, an audit will be conducted on Mathematics teachers to establish their profile, including qualifications and majors. A success story is the training of 356 Technical Mathematics and Technical Sciences teachers in the North-West Province, and 901 Mathematical Literacy teachers from 10 underperforming districts across provinces. During 2023, intensive support will be provided to the Eastern Cape Province, which is currently the lowest performer in respect of Mathematics.
Teachers are also being trained in Coding and Robotics. In 2022, more than 22,000 Grade R–9 teachers were trained in collaboration with the five teacher unions using the plugged and unplugged methods to endorse 21st Century skills and to demystify these subjects. All training on the Coding and Robotics was SACE-endorsed and many teachers have started to implement the skills they acquired in the classroom, to ensure that learners develop their skills as they learn to code.