Tuesday, 24 October 2023

Looming teacher shortage crisis

STAKEHOLDERS ENGAGEMENT: Foundation Phase Education Lecturer, Dr Milandre Vlok. STAKEHOLDERS ENGAGEMENT: Foundation Phase Education Lecturer, Dr Milandre Vlok.

Foundation Phase Education Lecturer, Dr Milandre Vlok, is “humbled and honoured” to have joined various stakeholders in a panel discussion around the looming teacher shortage crisis predicted between 2030 and 2035.

The panel discussion was part of the We The Nation talk show, aired on ENCA, hosted by Dan Moyane. The interview panel consisted of numerous stakeholders in education, government, non-governmental organisations, academics, principals, teachers, social workers and more. Vlok said a study done by RESEP (Research on Socio-Economic Policy) conducted by the Stellenbosch University found that 1/3 write out of South Africa’s educators will be retiring between 2030 and 2035. This leaves a large shortfall of educators “but also creates tremendous opportunities for novice teachers to enter the educational marketplace”.

She said the universities across South African have a responsibility to train teachers to be future-fit to enter the teaching profession and provide quality education. “It was mentioned that the Department of Education is not an employment agency. It does not exist just to employ teachers. It functions in relationship to teachers, families, learners, schools, and society at large – non nobis solum (not for us alone).”

Vlok stated that the purpose of the Department of Education is to create conducive policy and contexts so that the principals of democracy (rights, inclusivity, equality) are taught and learnt in schools, alongside content, pedagogical and values-based knowledge, and skills, so that learners can contribute to South Africa’s economic growth when they leave school. “The panel agreed that there are various reasons why teachers are leaving the teaching profession, and that it is not only a case of retiring teachers. Some stakeholders highlighted the dire socio-emotional well-being of many teachers and learners, also as a result the Covid-pandemic.”

She said the state of learner literacy competency again came under the spotlight. Lack of pro-active values education was mentioned. Possible solutions were discussed. One solution that received much attention was the importance of continuing professional development for teachers and providing them with socio-emotional support, especially in context which are rife with systemic challenges. “Reflecting on the value of retired teachers, one panellist suggested that we call our retired teachers, legacy teachers and look to ways in which they can still add value to an unexplored educational market space (e.g mentorship).”

Vlok stated that it was concluded that the topic should still be extensively unpacked so that learners’ education is not compromised. “It was an honour and a privilege to be part of this important debate. CPUT is engaging in pioneering work to be represented on media platforms of this stature. I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to have represented the university.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce