PE Express

WATCH: Plenty of career opportunities in education

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An education qualification can open many doors in the world of work, locally and overseas. But being an educator is a calling that you must be passionate about, while being able to adapt to the ever-changing needs of our society, especially in the 4IR.

These are some of the key takeouts of the career webinar on education that was broadcast last week by EP Media.

This was the fourth in a series of six live career webinars sponsored by Isuzu SA for high school learners.

These free webinars are aimed at equipping high school learners with information on career guidance and some of the different career fields, especially those that require scarce skills.

The recording of the first three career webinars, which focused on career guidance, and all the higher education options available to learners, as well as the Isuzu SA Chair of Mechatronics at NMU, and careers in the 4IR and Artificial Intelligence are available on the Express Facebook page.

The themes of the following webinars will be:

  • Journalism (17:00 on September 23)
  • Logistics (17:00 on October 21)

Experts from around the country have been selected as panelists.

On the panel for the education webinar was Dr Muki Moeng, who is the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education at the Nelson Mandela University. Also on the panel was Rowena Singh who is the Deputy Head of School for Education at Varsity College. Luan Midgley, from The TEFL Academy, told learners more about the opportunities in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL).

While they did not have a representative on the panel, viewers were also given more information about Unisa, whose College of Education offers distance learning in various undergraduate and post graduate qualifications in education. This is a very popular and affordable way of studying towards a degree in education part-time while working full-time as a student teacher. Student teachers who are studying through Unisa, told the viewers more about working as teachers while studying part-time.

PE Express reporter, Candice Bezuidenhout, who after obtaining her degree and working as a Media24 reporter, studied to become a TEFL teacher and worked for more than a year as a teacher in the Special Administrative Region of Macau in Asia, before returning to South Africa to work as a news reporter again, shared her experiences as a TEFL teacher.

Dr Muki: Please tell us more about your background in education.

I have about 20 years’ experience in higher education. For 10 of those years I was a lecturer in the classroom. And then I joined management from 2010 onwards. I’ve been the Executive Dean at Nelson Mandela University since 2015. I’m very passionate about teacher education because I believe that every nation is built upon the work of teachers.

Rowena: Please tell us more about your background in education.

I’ve been in education for the past 40 years and 28 of those years were as a school guidance counsellor, assisting students making choices about their future.

For the last 10 or so years, I’ve been involved in higher education and developing future teachers. Teaching is in my soul and I’m on the hunt for students who see teaching as a calling and want this profession more than anything.

Luan: Please give us some background on your career in education.

For the TEFL Academy, my work involves teacher training, assessing assignment work as a senior tutor, facilitating the weekend teacher training courses, hosting the 10-hour webinars we run and also mentoring new tutors. By trade I am a Language Practitioner and TEFL and CELTA qualified English teacher. I’m also a Cambridge examiner and I regularly act as an interlocutor or assessor for the Cambridge Speaking Test at various exam centres in the area.

Dr Muki: What characteristics or disposition must you have when you want to become a teacher?

When you want to become a teacher you really need to be someone who is passionate about learning and in particular passionate about your subject. For you to be able to relay the content knowledge and the skills to your learners you need to be passionate about it and your learners need to see that. You also need to be a good communicator, resilient, adaptable and someone who gives hope to the learners. You must love children and be a responsible person.

Rowena: What does the day in a life of a teacher look like and what would you say are the best characteristics of good teachers?

Dr Muki is absolutely right. It is those qualities that will get you through your days as a teacher Each day of teaching is carefully planned against curriculum requirements and timetables. But to succeed within this structure and accommodate the daily unplanned for challenges that will happen when you work with children, it calls upon the attributes of passion, and resilience and agility. The pandemic and changing landscape of teaching and learning clearly highlights the ability of teachers to be solution oriented, flexible and ever so kind towards our young charges. And teaching is more than that, it includes sport, administrative tasks, marking and being a ‘parent’ during school hours.

Luan: Why is a career in the TEFL industry a good idea for young South Africans?

This qualification takes you places, both geographically and within the actual industry. The TEFL qualification offers the opportunity to see the world while earning money. We have course participants who are flourishing in other countries and right here at home as well. South Africa is viewed as an English learning destination and this is good news for all South Africans who want to teach English. We have many language schools, where visitors from other countries come and study English.

And almost every academic institution has its own TEFL department, where specifically TEFL teachers are employed. Whether it’s looking for something to fill the gap year, or a lifetime career, the TEFL qualification can give you that. Our young people sometimes need a bit of direction and this opens up so many doors for them.

Rowena: How should learners differentiate or make a choice between what you want to be when you grow up – vs – what does the world of work need?

When I ask little children what they want to be when they grow up, its often cute to hear that they want to be a ballerina or fire engine driver. But by the time you get to high school, there needs to be a deeper understanding of self but how that self can be responsive to what the world needs. Always bear in mind that the world is changing at an incredible rate, and that technologies are changing the way we work. The world of work is now looking for an agile and adaptable work force that can multi-task and change direction depending on what the current needs are. Always consider the parallels between your passion and what is practical. Ultimately, you want to be employable.

Dr Muki: What subjects must you take in high school if you want to become a teacher?

It depends where you want to teach. If you want to teach foundation phase or intermediate phase, which is primary school teaching, you can have any subject but you must have mathematics because in foundation phase you must be able to teach numeracy, literacy and life skills. And in the intermediate phase, you teach all learning areas, including economic management, sciences, as well as mathematics. You need mathematics, mathematical literacy or technical mathematics. Then, if you want to teach high school, you need to specialise.

We’ve got different streams of specialisation. To specialise in mathematics or science, you would need these subjects in school. The postgraduate certificate in education, a one-year qualification done after obtaining your degree, is when you would specialise. You can also specialise when you do a B Ed Senior or FET Phase.

Dr Muki: How long does it take to become a teacher? What are the different pathways?

It takes four years to become a teacher if you’re doing a B.Ed degree, which is our undergraduate qualification.

The post graduate qualification is for a year, which allows you to specialise.

Luan: What are the TEFL course requirements?

To access the online content of our course, you need to be 16 and up which is good news for our matriculants who are all in the region of 17-18 years old. To join our weekend courses, you need to be 18 and up.

You will need to confirm that you are a native speaker of English or, if a non-native speaker, that you have an English level of advanced/C1 or above.

Luan: Can you take us through the process of becoming a qualified TEFL teacher and securing a job?

The first thing you need to do is enrol in your chosen course. Then it’s about putting the hours in. You have to dedicate part of your day to study time. On completion of the course you receive your certificate and that’s when you can write or revise your CV and start applying for jobs. Most of the interviews are done online. It’s quite a short, inexpensive process that turns into a lifelong career.

Dr Muki: Can graduates from NMU work overseas with their qualification?

Definitely. Quite a number of my alumni are teaching overseas. It’s really acceptable everywhere. All they need is for you to prove that you’ve received a certificate. Our students are in high demand overseas.

Rowena: Can graduates from Varsity College work overseas with their qualification?

All teacher education qualifications need to be approved and accredited and registered with all the regulatory bodies in South Africa.

Regardless of where you study, you can be assured that your teacher education qualification is credible.

In order to teach in South Africa, you’d need to register with the South African Council for Educators , who ensure that if they are registering any students into their professional body, that those qualifications are registered. Once you have that registration, it’s like a tick of approval for overseas countries.

Rowena: What is your vision for education in South Africa?

South Africa is a land of contrasts and extremes. But the sad truth is that the majority of our children are studying under deprived and difficult conditions. When we compare our reading literacy and numeracy literacy against international figures, we realise that South Africa is not faring well and there is much work to be done locally. Good teachers are the solution to building a quality educational system and contributing to the country’s economy.

My vision is equal educational opportunities for all South Africa’s children.

Luan: What career options are available after receiving a TEFL certificate?

We have language schools in South Africa and there’s a big demand for English teachers. There are also language schools abroad and they’re also always looking for new teachers. Then there are academic institutions, primary schools, high schools, universities – and most of these have TEFL departments. Online teaching is also an option. Au pairing is also very popular, as is content writing, course creating and more. The possibilities are endless.

Dr Muki: What funding is available for students who want to do teaching?

The Department of Basic Education has made available funding through the Funza Lushaka Bursary scheme, which is based on merit. Get a Bachelor’s pass to be able to enrol in a university to do your B.Ed degree. The scheme lists the requirement on their website – they change their priorities every year. When you choose your specialisation, choose within those requirements to secure funding. A second option is NSFAS.

Rowena: What role does information communication technology integration play in education in a post pandemic world?

Education must prepare learners to work in a technology rich environment and align with Fourth Industrial Revolution demands. The pandemic has accelerated the need to be upskilled in the 21st century classroom technologies as we move into online engagement and teachers must be tech-savvy to teach our digital citizens effectively. The pandemic has fast-tracked what we’ve always wanted to do and now what we have to do.

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