South Africa

Mashatile’s call: Prioritise teaching profession now!

Paul Mashatile teacher shortage

As the world grapples with the challenges posed by teacher shortages, South Africa stands at the forefront, leading the way with its commitment to recognising, honoring, and empowering teachers.

On Monday, at the 14th Policy Dialogue Forum of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education in Illovo, Johannesburg, Deputy President Paul Mashatile impassioned a call to action that serves as a wake-up call for global leaders to prioritise the teaching profession, cultivate excellence, and embrace the power of education in shaping global future and education.

Educational heroes

On behalf of South Africa, recognised as a key player in the journey towards achieving quality education for all by 2030, Mashatile expressed the country’s gratitude towards the International Task Force for entrusting them with the co-chairmanship of the steering committee.

Mashatile pointed out the need for confronting the shortage of experienced and influential teachers internationally. He also noted the pivotal role teachers play in shaping the minds of tomorrow.

“We owe it to these titans of our society to recognise, honour, empower, and value them as well as the job that they do.

“Most importantly, significant consideration must be made on how we should improve their working conditions and remuneration as a way of appreciating their hard work, so that they can be able to fulfil their important task without getting discouraged.”

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The vice president said South Africa’s teacher shortage problem much like other countries rooted from the mismatch between subject demands and university supply, which has consequently led to teachers teaching out of phase.

He further stressed that engaging intelligent youth to the teaching profession would require promoting excellence, fostering creativity, and cultivating a sense of pride and purpose among educators.

Additionally, he acknowledged the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution and its importance to the teaching and learning regime.

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“It is critical that we never lose sight of the fact that we are currently living in a digital age, and we must also ensure that our educators can effectively utilise new technologies to remain relevant and efficient in the current digital age,” said Mashatile.

Furthermore, he expressed hope that the forum would provide valuable insights and solutions to address the pressing issues highlighted in the Global Report on teacher shortages.

Fixing the problem

He also shed light on the concern of teachers being assigned grades for which they have inadequate training and qualifications.

To tackle this issue, South Africa’s government has introduced the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme, aimed at attracting young teachers into the profession.

” Areas struggling to recruit qualified teachers benefit from these newly qualified teachers, thereby addressing issues of equity. Incentives are also implemented to retain these teachers in hard-to-teach areas,” said the deputy.

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Moreover, while improving teacher salaries and working conditions, the government is also addressing immediate needs by utilising contracted teachers.

However Mashatile conceded that permanent solutions were imperative and that policies have been put in place to make teachers’ lives easier in their profession.

Ultimately, Mashatile said SA remains optimistic the collaborative efforts of global leaders, in conjunction with the valuable insights gained at the Policy Dialogue Forum, will pave the way for innovative solutions to address teacher shortages and ensure quality education for all.

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