Principal and Vice-Chancellor: Prof Mandla Makhanya
Members of Council
Senior University Executives
Members of Senate
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is an honour and privilege to address the 2019 World teachers’ Day here at Unisa in a building named after one of our foremost struggle stalwart Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela.
We acknowledge and appreciate the gesture of naming this building after the Mother of the Nation. It is not an act of vanity but self-love.
We must celebrate fortitude in leadership as a means of recognising the positive contribution that outstanding leaders such as Comrade Winnie Mandela made in our society.
We have the duty to preserve our heritage so that future generations understand the significance of the sacrifices that were made for us to be where we are today. It’s not an act of folly but of self-love.
Chairperson, I am a teacher by profession so therefore I won’t deliver a speech today, but teach as a tribute to all our teachers throughout the nook and cranny of our country.
Today is a special occasion to celebrate the teaching profession, to take stock of our achievements, and to address some of the issues central for attracting and keeping the brightest minds and young talents in the profession.
Most importantly, the 2019 World Teachers’ Day marks the 71st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which recognizes education as a key fundamental right and establishes an entitlement to free compulsory education, ensuring inclusive and equitable access for all children.
I stand before you today to say that the South African teachers are a treasure of our country. As Minister of Basic Education, I am proud of the caliber of our teaching cohort including student teachers.
Our teachers are committed, qualified and work beyond the call of duty. As evidenced in the recent teaching and learning international survey, TALIS, 2018 report, our teachers work in unfavorable conditions generated by environmental factors such as prevalence of crime, poverty and burden of diseases.
As a country, we must do more to show appreciation to our teachers. We must do so through both monetary and non-monetary measures for their tenacity, expertise and staying power.
According to TALIS report we are not a Zama Zama Department as 97% of our teachers said they are in the profession to influence children's development and contribute to society. In my language, that’s patriotism.
Chairperson, over the years falsehoods have been told about our teachers. Lies and half-truths have been repeated so often that they have grown three legs.
In fact, falsehoods and scarecrows sustain the notion of the so called ‘education crisis in South Africa.’ There’s no education crisis in South Africa.
In fact numerous independent research findings, and our own data shows that, ‘we are a system on the rise.’
Let’s deal with myth number 1, ‘South African teachers are not qualified.’ This is not nothing but a tissue of lies.
Chairperson, we have greatly improved the quality of our teachers. In 1994, only 54 percent of the African teachers were qualified, but today out of over 410 000 teachers, only a statistically insignificant number is still completing their qualifications.
According to the Centre for Development & Enterprise (CDE) latest (March 2015) report, ‘it produced some noteworthy and surprising findings about the current teaching force.’ See even the researchers were surprised by the results.
The CDE used data based on just 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:
- 81 per cent qualified: 66 per cent had an M+3 qualification and 15 per cent had an M+4.
- 19 per cent unqualified: In education lingo an unqualified teacher is a person who doesn’t have an initial teacher training or post graduate 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.
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 employment 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.
Interestingly, Chairperson, nationally, the supply of newly qualified teachers had almost tripled over the five years to 2017, growing from 5939 in 2008 to 25 877 in 2017.
Thus, the CDE report concluded that if the number of graduates continues to increase, South Africa, will be able to produce sufficient teachers for the next decade, from 2015 to 2025 to maintain the current learner to educator ratio (LER) of 29.2 learners to 1 teacher for the whole system.
This is of course as a result of growing our own timber through the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme. Some optimistic experts now expect South Africa to have a surplus of 81 725 teachers by 2020.
A further thirteen thousand Funza Lushaka bursaries have been awarded to student teachers, this year alone, at a cost or over 1.2. Billion rands.
Since inception in 2007 to 2018, we have awarded a whopping 134 211 Funza Lushaka bursaries at a cost of R8.36 billion. Despite this success, we have no desire to take our foot off the accelerator.
Chairperson, I am happy to announce that we are currently busy conducting an analysis of teacher supply, demand and utilisation in the sector. After the analysis, we will provide a comprehensive report to the Council of Education Ministers (CEM).
We are also in the process of the reprioritisation of the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme’s priority areas.
This is a response to emerging areas of specialisation occasioned by amongst others the 4th Industrial Revolution and new policy imperatives.
Our focus areas will include training for ECD practitioners in anticipation of the revamped ECD sector, digital learning, focus schools, and the three stream-model curriculum.
Obviously there’s certain areas that need improvements such as lower rate of women in education leadership.
According to the teaching and learning international survey (TALIS) 2018, 60% of teachers in South Africa were female which compared reasonably well with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 68%.
However, the TALIS also indicated only 22% of principals are female, which is less than half of the OECD average of 47%. In comparison, 51% of principals in Saudi Arabia are female.
We are seized with matter of low participation rates of women in Principalship. If I had my way South Africa would have 51 percent women principals by 2025.
Our Policy on the South African Standard for Principalship will play an important role in providing guidance for the selection process and capacity building programme for principals in particular women.
In addition, we have launched a unique qualification for Principalship, namely the Advanced Diploma in Education (ADE): School Leadership which in the future will form part of a criterion for anybody aspiring to be a principal.
This is not a Mickey Mouse qualification but a fully-fledged academic programme offered exclusively by a selected South African universities.
Chairperson, the second myth is that our teaching cohort is ageing, most teachers resign to access their pensions and others are fed up so they go to teach abroad.
According to the TALIS 2018, about 32% of teachers are aged 50 and above which compares favourable with the OECD average of 34% and roughly puts us in league with countries such as the US, Japan and Australia.
We monitor the trends of attrition of teachers in public schools over a period of five years.
Looking at five financial years up to the end of March 2017, it shows that attrition rate due to resignation decreased drastically between financial years 2015/16 and 2016/17 from 8 619 to 5 211.
Overall, attrition due to resignation of teachers accounts for about 1.9% of all teachers.’
Chairperson, we will intensify our efforts of improving the quality of teaching and the status of the teaching profession.
We will continue to empower and equip our teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world, as well as focus on foundational skills such as teaching literacy and Mathematics.
In this regard, we are implementing the Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning. Since Framework was adopted, we have set up Provincial Core Training Teams in six of the nine provinces.
The rest of the provinces are to be covered in this financial year.
These training teams are responsible for the roll-out in their provinces, and are also provided with resources to distribute to all teachers. We have developed a National Reading Framework which maps out differentiated approaches on how to teach reading in African languages.
The Framework also provide guidelines for the development of quality reading materials, and teacher development programmes. The full implementation of the framework will commence in the new financial year.
Working with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the NECT, we are pursuing ways to ensure a balanced approach to the teaching of numeracy and mathematics as evident in the Department’s recently developed Framework for Teaching Mathematics with Understanding.
The latter is being implemented in 41 schools in three provinces benefiting 14543 foundation phase learners in five African languages offered as LoLT (IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Sepedi, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga).
Chairperson, we are also collaborating with the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology in revising the, ‘The Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education Qualifications (MRTEQ)’, in line with new global trends.
The grand idea is to enhance the quality and efficiency of the Initial Teacher Education programmes. We are also building capacity for Mathematics Teachers in the Foundation Phase (FP). Our approach is to put them through a year-long accredited course at selected universities.
Chairperson, the emerging narrative of a basic education system that is on the rise has also found traction internationally.
Chairperson, we believe in the adage that says the quality of a school cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.
In this regard, we are doubling our efforts in the area of teacher professionalism, continued learning programmes including leadership and school based management.
We will be ramping up consequence management in the classrooms. I am happy to announce that we have finally signed the collective agreement No. 2 of 2014: Quality Management System (QMS) for School-Based educators.
The purpose of Collective Agreement is to provide a standardised framework for teachers’ performance. The aim of the Agreement is also to improve accountability levels in all schools.
The QMS is a performance management system for school-based teachers designed to evaluate the performance levels of individuals in order to achieve high levels of school performance.
The only area where we agree with outrage manufacturers is the issue of reading for meaning. In the recent Council of Educations Ministers, a Reworked National Reading Sector Implementation Plan 2019-2024 was presented.
It is an encompassing strategy that calls for all affected teachers to undergo a comprehensive course on reading methodologies in EFAL and African Languages amongst many skills required.
In this endeavour, we will work together with universities, the National Reading Coalition, UNICEF and a whole range of local as well as international partners.
The reading imbroglio is matter that requires all members of society to chip in. Young people learn, first, from their parents. If reading happens at home, young people will follow suite.
Nonetheless, as the President Ramaphosa has said our learners will be able for meaning by their tenth birthday. The matter is no longer debatable.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the Principal and Vice-Chancellor for hosting this celebration of our teachers. We acknowledge the tremendous efforts of all our Provincial Education Departments who are at the coalface of the basic education delivery.
We also thank our many partners both here at home and abroad for their generosity and support.
I thank you.