TEACHING RANKS ARE DRAINED

MORE teachers are leaving the profession. While the system loses more than 13000 teachers a year, only 7000 join the teaching ranks each year, not enough to fill the gap.

MORE teachers are leaving the profession. While the system loses more than 13000 teachers a year, only 7000 join the teaching ranks each year, not enough to fill the gap.

The Department of Basic Education has 360000 teachers in the system. There are 19000 teachers for primary and 6000 for high schools. Last year, 13417 teachers left the profession for various reasons.

At least 6800 resigned, 2296 died, 3130 went on retirement and 310 stopped working because of ill-health.

Department spokesperson Granville Whittle said they could not confirm how many teachers entered the system this year until after the first term. He could only confirm 1805 first-time appointments from the department's Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme.

"Of course we have sufficient numbers of teachers. The challenge, however, is one of supply, especially ensuring that we have well-qualified teachers in our rural areas."

The Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme was started in 2007.

"It has the overall goal of producing well-qualified teachers who are able to teach key subjects, for placement in public school posts," Whittle said.

The scheme has been very successful in that it has revitalised the initial teacher education sector.

"For the first time in a long while the teacher education system is beginning to more adequately address the demand for new teachers in the system," he said.

From 2007 to last year the department spent at least R665000 to fund 18391 students.

The National Professional Teacher's Organisation of South Africa agrees that the bursary scheme has helped create renewed interest in the profession.

Naptosa's Sue Miller said: "We do not have enough teachers. If teachers are qualified it is not guaranteed that they themselves received a good education.

"Teachers are also not deployed effectively. We need more teachers in rural areas.

"It is sometimes hard for teachers to work in rural areas, especially if they did not grow up there."

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