teacher shortage

The Department of Basic Education has disputed a media report about the shortage of 24 000 teachers in the country.

Responding to an article published by Businesstech.co.za, which incorrectly reported that there was a shortage of 24 000 teachers, the department said that the reporter misunderstood Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s reply to a parliamentary question regarding the vacancy rate in the Basic Education sector.

During a parliamentary question and answer session, Democratic Alliance and Member of Parliament, Chantel King, asked the Minister, amongst other things, the national vacancy rate of teachers in the Republic, and the total breakdown of the number of posts that have remained vacant in each province.

In her reply, the Minister said 5.8% as at the end of February 2021, and the vacancy rate reported is in terms of the actual vacancies at schools, in relation to posts that each school was allocated for 2021.

Motshekga said that Provincial Education Departments are currently redeploying educators that are additional to the allocated post establishments at some schools, to schools that have vacancies.

“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,” Motshekga responded at the time.

The Minister also presented a table with a written response, which showed a total of 24 556 vacant posts.

However, the department said this does not mean there is an actual shortage of teachers, nor does it mean learners are being left unattended.

“It simply means the process of finalising the appointment of the people currently in the posts is ongoing,” the department noted.

The department said it has various teacher recruitment strategies, which include:

  • A register of qualified, yet unemployed graduates.
  • The national recruitment base which 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.

“These databases have thousands of teachers who are requested to apply for jobs as and when they become available. In addition to this, 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.

“This means there are more teachers in the country than the system can accommodate. The reported shortage is therefore inaccurate and misleading,” the department said.

The department added that it worked with the 24 universities offering initial teacher education programmes during 2020/21 to compile information on all initial teacher education students.

The consolidated 2020 awards list also shows that 13 085 Funza Lushaka bursaries were awarded for initial teacher education by 31 March 2021.

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