Fact Check: How many student teachers are really enrolled and graduating in SA?

Fact Check: How many student teachers are really enrolled and graduating in SA?

- The department of basic education has tried to allay fears of a potential teaching crisis facing South Africa

- This comes as reports indicate that South African teachers are leaving in droves for lucrative teaching positions overseas

- The department said it was not worried about this development because the country’s universities all offer teaching degrees and all those programs are virtually full

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The department of basic education has tried to allay fears of a potential teaching crisis which could face South Africa in the near future. This comes as reports indicate that teachers are leaving in droves for more lucrative job opportunities overseas.

South African teachers have been leaving South Africa for places like Abu Dhabi, Dubai and other middle-eastern countries which offer significantly higher salaries and immeasurably better working conditions.

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The department said it was unconcerned by the development because it claims that all of South Africa’s universities offer teaching degrees and nearly all of those courses were filled to capacity which meant there was a steady stream of teachers in the system.

Briefly.co.za has done some research to figure out whether this claim from the department is based on reality or a dangerous oversight.

To become a teacher in South Africa a person needs to complete either a four-year Bachelor of Education degree or a more common three-year or four-year Bachelor degree followed by a Postgraduate Certificate in Education.

This means the claim that all universities offer teaching degrees is largely true based on the fact that all South African universities offer basic bachelor degrees. The claim that these courses are filled to capacity makes sense in that universities in South Africa receive far more applications for each of their courses than they have spaces for.

The problem with the claim is working out how many students studying bachelor degrees plan on using those to become teachers.

The department of basic education published its latest education statistics report on 4 April 2018. The report uses data from 2016 and is the most up to date official document available from the government.

The report indicates that in 2015 only 284 students completed courses in education and development training at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions. A further 1 963 students completed educare courses at TVET colleges.

According to the SANTS, 1114 student teachers from across South Africa graduated in May 2018, the majority of those graduates are becoming junior school teachers. Africa Check reported that as of 2016 only around 36% of all students completed their four-year degrees.

Researching exact figures about the numbers of teachers in the country and the number of student teachers is virtually impossible according to a paper published by the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE).

The CDE notes that databases on the subject are notoriously inconsistent in the way in which data is collected, entered and which datasets are included. The information is also regularly out of date.

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The CDE notes that South Africa will need about 30 000 more teachers in 2025 than it did in 2013 to meet the demands of increased learner enrolments in schools across the country. The report also warns that while there might be an over-supply of teachers in the system there could be critical shortages in key teaching positions in the future.

Languages and mathematics are notable concerns with only 13% of student teachers specialising in either African languages or math. Science is another subject which could face critical shortages in the future.

So yes the department is right in its assessment that there are enough students enrolled in the system to replace those teachers who are leaving, but South Africa could be heading for a situation where there are lots of unemployed teachers who are not qualified for the right posts which are available.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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