It is that time of the year when the world celebrates the efforts and hard-work of the teachers. On 05 October it is once more the World Teachers Day. I am more interested in the theme adopted by UNESCO which wrote “Call for the teachers” and the statement further reads “The is a huge and persistent gap in Professional, well-trained and well-supported teachers to achieve better quality education. The challenge of recruiting teachers does not lie in the numbers, but in the Provision of Quality teachers”.
Though in my personal capacity as the education I believe that teachers are well-trained, the problem is not training but recruitment. The people that join the profession are the problem.UNESCO further state that “the quality of education cannot exceed the quality of its teachers”. The better the teachers, the better the education system in South Africa. South Africa spends a lot of money to improve the quality of education but teachers are not well equipped to be experts or specialists of education.
In other countries like Finland, China, America and Estonia teachers hold Masters Degrees or PhDs which is not the case in South Africa. We all know teachers has the most vital role to play in the society through better teaching practices, the quality of the teachers determine and measure the quality of education in the country.UNESCO further states that “teacher quality is the most important level for improving student outcomes”.
South Africa must start attracting great personality to the teaching profession. In our country it is so simple to study education since there are no required standards other than Matric results. Teaching in South Africa mostly is being studied by people who have no careers and looking to earn a salary in the meantime. Not the ideal personality for the noble profession.
Our desperation to have teachers has made department to offer more bursaries and some people have took advantage to become teachers even if it was not meant to be. This means anyone anywhere who has Matric certificate can become a teacher since there’s no selection criteria to determine best candidates. It is no longer a calling. I don’t know whether I am one of those students.
The quality of teachers is essential to quality of education. We must attract good performing Grade 12 learners to the profession, not only academically performing but also must take into consideration the personality of the candidates. There must be strict selection criteria to determine better candidates to become teachers. I believe quality education start with good motivated teachers, no matter how much money we can spend to improve the education system but if teachers are average then we must forget quality teaching and learning in schools.
Looking at the UNESCO 1966 recommendations about teaching professionalism it says “Teaching should be regarded as a profession: It is a form of public service which requires of teachers expert knowledge and specialized skills, acquired and maintained through rigorous and continuing study, it also calls for sense of personal and corporate responsibility for the education and welfare of the pupils in their charge”. We need such teachers in South Africa, not only few but the majority.
If we aim to improve the quality of education in South Africa, better we start recruiting people who want to teach and make the difference in transforming our education system, not those who are obsessed with salary though the standard of living must be better for teachers.
During my teaching practical I have seen average, uninspired and demotivated teachers who only want the salary. I have also come across inspirational, committed, disciplined and dedicated teachers who have inspired my ambition to become a teacher.
Finland boasts best record in the international assessments in literacy in the world. The quality of the teachers plays a crucial role in the Finland Education system. Teaching profession in the society is well-respected and regarded as a “noble, prestigious profession-akin to Medicine, Law or economics-and one driven by moral purpose rather than material interests”. The quality of teachers is the main reason Finland lead in Literacy, science and Maths internationally.
What I find most interesting in Finland which can be a good benefit to South Africa is the selection criteria, not just anyone in Finland becomes the teacher. To become a teacher in Finland candidates must possess a good strong Matriculation results and excellent interpersonal skills. Also priority is given to best Primary teachers since; I am certain that is where strong foundation of education begins.
South Africa must implement selection criteria for the students who want to study education. Teaching profession must not be a dumping side for failed careers, salary earners or cater for demotivated people at the expense of our kids. We can’t compromise with the future of our children with poor teaching and learning. Poor education system impact negatively on the economy, identity and social transformation of the country.
I believe the better the teachers, the better the quality of teaching and learning.
“WE ARE THE ONES WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR, SOUTH AFRICA CAN DO BETTER”
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