SA teacher exodus relentless since 2005

2010-06-16 00:00

THE exodus of teachers from the profession has been a concern over the years, and statistics show that the problem is not improving.

Resignation, above retirement and health, was the number one reason for the country’s teachers leaving the profession between 2005 and 2008.

KwaZulu-Natal accounted for the second largest number of teachers leaving the profession, behind Gauteng.

Responding to a question in Parliament recently, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the department lost over 24 000 teachers between 2005 and 2008.

Gauteng accounted for 5 614 teachers lost to the profession during this period, followed by KZN with 5 005 teachers.

Teacher unions and opposition parties contacted by T he Witness cited school violence, poor pay and a lack of regard by the Education Department as challenges facing the profession, and said that certain teacher unions are dragging down the pride that once accompanied the profession.

Others blamed poor working conditions and the withdrawal of corporal punishment, which has left schools without alternative disciplinary techniques, for teachers’ frustrations.

A total of 9 175 teachers left the profession during the 2007/08 financial year, which was up from 8 918 during the previous year. Teachers who resigned made up half or more of these numbers, with over 4 500 teachers quitting the profession in the 2007/08 financial year. This increased from about 4 300 in the 2006/07 financial year.

However, national Basic Education spokesperson Granville Whittle said, in comparison to countries at the same level of development as South Africa, the overall attrition rate of teachers is within a reasonable range at about five percent per annum.

Whittle said the concern is less about the loss of teachers and more about the ability of the system to replace them. He said the ability of the system to recruit and retain teachers, by improving conditions of service, is the foremost objective of the department’s two-pronged strategy.

According to Whittle, an example of this is that, since the introduction of the occupation-specific dispensation in 2008, the average income of teachers has increased by 38%. Over and above the monetary improvements, he said their retention strategies have included teacher incentives targeting scarce teaching and learning areas and teaching in rural areas.

Furthermore, he said recruitment has been extended to ensure the supply of new teachers into the system through the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme.

The KZN Education Department did not respond to questions sent through on Friday last week about how they are going to address this problem.

•Between the 2005/06 financial year 1 631 teachers left. Black teachers accounted for 1 228, while whites and coloureds were 175 and 31 respectively.

•In the 2006/07 financial year, 1 758 teachers left teaching, while during the 2007/08 financial year 1 716 left the profession — this included 203 whites, 30 coloureds and 1 315 black teachers.

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