Report warns of looming teacher shortage

19 March 2015 - 02:30 By Poppy Louw
Teaching is about more than just certificates. a teacher also needs knowledge.
Teaching is about more than just certificates. a teacher also needs knowledge.

There will be a severe shortage of teachers in the foundation phase by 2020 if the number of teaching graduates in that phase continues to fall.

This is according to a new report that gives estimates of the demand for, and supply of, teachers over the next 10 years.

Launched by the Centre for Development and Enterprise yesterday, "Teachers in South Africa: Supply and Demand 2013-2025" reported that foundation-phase graduates made up 18% of all education graduates between 2008 and 2012. Foundation-phase pupils made up 33%, about 400000, in 2012.

An estimated 30000 new teachers are needed over 12 years, taking the total from around 426000 in 2013 to 456000 in 2025 to meet increased pupil enrolment.

The departments of Basic Education and of Higher Education and Training have nearly doubled the number of teacher graduates annually, from 6978 to 13708 between 2009 and 2012.

The centre's policy and advocacy director, Jane Hofmeyr, said it was possible to maintain the current average ratio of 29 pupils to each teacher if the number of graduates continued to increase as planned.

Enrolment of pupils is expected to increase from 12.4million in 2013 to 13.4million in 2023.

Researchers said some subjects had an oversupply of teachers but there was a significant shortage in subjects such as languages in all phases, maths in the intermediate and senior phases, and maths literacy in the further education and training phase. There was a "dire" shortage of teachers who can teach in indigenous African languages.

The acting chief director for teaching and learning development in the Higher Education and Training Department, Whitfield Green, said the report failed to consider the department's teacher-training programmes.

The department has allocated R141-million over three years to support foundation-phase teacher training programmes.

"The department allocates infrastructure funding to universities to allow more enrolments ... especially in the foundation phase, [and] supports ... African languages," he said.