Teacher training in spotlight

Teacher's desk. Picture Credit: Pixabay
Teacher's desk. Picture Credit: Pixabay

Many of South Africa’s teachers are ill-prepared for teaching‚ unaccountable and do not receive enough support and training to equip them as competent educators‚ a report by the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) stated on Monday.

This is the 10th such report compiled by CDE in the past five years. It analyses supply and demand of teachers‚ teaching training and lessons learnt from other countries.

The Department of Education’s 2016-17 annual performance plan identifies poor teaching‚ leadership and a lack of accountability as major challenges.

CDE executive director Anne Bernstein said the various reports released by the body over the years had pointed to weak institutions‚ undue influence by unions and weak knowledge content by teachers‚ as key elements that dragged SA’s basic education to the current astonishing lows.

Bernstein said the ongoing crisis in basic education was a constraint to meaningful progress for growth and inclusion.

 “South Africa today is no country for young people‚” she said. “SA needs accelerated inclusive growth and it needs to be urban led.”

Professionalising teaching is the domain of the South African Council for Educators‚ which is responsible for advising the education minister on developing and strengthening teaching standards in the country. Together with the Zenex Foundation‚ it has programmes to accelerate the process of producing and adopting professional practice standards for teachers. The 2016-17 project is co-funded with the SACE‚ which has appointed JET Educational Services as its technical and implementation partner.

But the body has been faced with challenges to completing its mandate. Sizwe Nxasana‚ chairperson of the National Education Collaboration Trust‚ established in 2013‚ said there was a need to reform the SACE as a professionalisation body for accreditation of teachers.

“If the SACE functions as it should‚ we will see better standards of teaching‚ which are at the moment patchy‚” Nxasana said.

 The SACE should also deal with the behaviour and conduct of teachers to benefit all in the education system‚ he said.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said although standards were very important‚ there were also many other variables that needed to be put in place to ensure high-quality education. “The question is‚ what are those variables?“

She defended her department‚ saying much had been done to ensure that high standards were applied. She pointed out that the provinces employed teachers‚ which often led to inconsistencies.

The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA’s former president‚ Dr Anthea Cereseto‚ said societal standards and structural issues needed to be addressed before teaching standards were forced onto teachers.

On accountability‚ Bernstein pointed out that the 2014 jobs-for-sale report received far too little attention in the public arena.

“It provides considerable detail on what you can only call another side of state capture — the capture of the appointment process by corrupt individuals and unions‚” she said.

She asked Motshekga what had been done since the release of that damning report.

Motshekga pardoned the unions implicated in the jobs-for-sale scandal in May‚ citing insufficient evidence. She refused to comment any further on that report‚ saying she had previously reported on it extensively.

“We are at the stage where cases have been handed over to the police‚” she said.

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