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21 Jul 2000 00:00
Ntuthuko Maphumulo Nearly a quarter of primary school teachers in South Africa are not qualified for the job, according to a survey on the state of the country’s schooling. -The survey found that some provinces were particularly badly affected by unqualified teachers, with the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and North West faring the worst.
These provinces recorded rates of unqualified teachers of 34%, 32,8% and 30,5% respectively.
-Apart from probing the qualifications of teachers, the investigation revealed that South African students performed worst in Africa where numeracy, literacy and life skills were concerned. -The study, which focused on grade 4 pupils, was commissioned by the national Department of Education, which participated for the first time in the Joint International Unesco-Unicef monitoring learning-achievement project. -Asked how much it would cost to train underqualified teachers, Ministry of Education representative Bheki Khumalo referred the Mail & Guardian to several officials, none of whom were contactable. The recent report by the review committee on Curriculum 2005 - which recommended a major shake-up of the “outcomes-based” curriculum bequeathed by former minister of education Sibusiso Bengu - did not broach the issue of teacher qualifications. Instead, it focused on the training required to equip them to teach the new “Curriculum 21”. Linda Chisholm, the committee chair, said there was an agreement between labour and education that unqualified or underqualified teachers would be allocated a certain number of days for training, which would amount to about 80 hours a year per teacher.
Dan Legoete, a representative of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union, agreed that many teachers were not qualified but said the onus was on the Department of Education “to help the teachers come up to standard”.
He said the unqualified teachers were already in the system and could not be retrenched, adding that they were “competent”.
Legoete said the results of the study of grade 4 pupils raised serious concerns about the state of primary education and how to accelerate competence of students in maths.
Michael Gardiner, a senior lecturer at Vista University, questioned how the survey of teacher qualifications had been conducted, adding that underqualified teachers should receive extra training and that the Department of Education should implement an appraisal system.
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