The much maligned South African education system doesn’t deserve its entire bad reputation says Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor.
Pandor was the Minister of Education between 2004 and 2009 and says while a number of critical errors were made at the dawn of democracy the government is working hard to correct those now.
Pandor shared her insight into the state of teacher education in the country at CPUT’s newly launched Centre for International Teacher Education (CITE) last month.
She explained that teacher education is back on the right track thanks to generous bursaries for training totalling R1 billion per year as well as a new policy framework focussed on quality as well as the quantity of teacher graduates.
She says decisions that were made in good faith two decades ago paved the way for the decline in the education system which continues to plague the country now.
“An attempt to equalize teacher salaries (white teachers earned an average of five times more than black counterparts) saw an exodus out of the profession. We also decided to move teachers to underperforming schools and this failed with many opting for severance packages instead,” says Pandor.
“This upheaval meant it is hardly surprising that students did not look at teaching as a viable career.”
Coupled to this was the closure of 120 teacher training colleges and a wholesale change in the curriculum, all of which resulted in a teaching force stretched to the limit.
These challenges make the establishment of CITE and the various research projects it will undertake all the more critical for the future development of teacher training in SA.
CITE will provide research capacity development in this crucial field and assist the government in building a strong foundation for future dialogue on this topic.
The centre is managed by the South African Research Chair in Teacher Education Prof Yusuf Sayed and his Deputy Director Professor Azeem Badroodien- both respected scholars in this niche field.