Pupils Speak Out: Unqualified, disinterested teachers debilitate learning

The article you are about to read is part of a weekly series of comment pieces written by South African pupils about the problems they encounter in their schools. The series offers pupils a chance to be part of the debate about South Africa’s education system.

More teachers should be employed by government to teach at public schools and they should teach the subjects they are trained to teach. But the fact is that some are forced to teach other subjects.

The teachers at my school do not even finish the syllabus because they are carrying too much work on their shoulders. For example, my Xhosa teacher was also teaching geography and because of this, she did not finish the Xhosa syllabus.

This affects the performance of the pupils.

My geography teacher also did not come to class regularly because she was not passionate about the subject. 


She, herself, revealed to us that she does not like geography. She said she teaches it because she is ordered to do so by the principal. Because of everything above, the majority of the class failed geography last year.

Lack of graduates
This problem is made worse by the Eastern Cape department of education, which fails to employ more graduates who studied education at university. 

For example, my aunt graduated in 2010 at Fort Hare University with an education degree but even today she is still unemployed. 

Some of these graduates are very good at teaching maths and science, but we as pupils miss the opportunity to learn from them.

Public schools, especially ones in rural areas, are badly affected by this problem of the department not employing enough graduates because good teachers are taken quickly by private schools. 

Furthermore, some teachers move out of our province to seek jobs in other provinces, leaving us students to suffer.

Unqualified teachers
What the department has done is try to employ people to teach at my schools who didn’t study education at university but who the department thinks have an ability to teach. 

That still didn’t work because some of the teachers resigned and returned to the jobs for which they studied at university, leaving us pupils to suffer again.

Because of all these problems, I recommend the department employ only qualified teachers for specific subjects and make sure that a teacher doesn’t teach more than one subject.

We as pupils should also form an organisation that will represent pupils according to circuits and write letters to the department where we will raise our concerns and ask for face-to-face discussions with officials from the department.

The pupil who wrote this is a participant in a nongovernmental organisation’s writing programme that offers reading and writing guidance to grade 11 and 12 pupils at rural schools in the Eastern Cape’s former Transkei. The pupils asked to remain anonymous.

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