Editorial | Still much that impedes education

PREMIUM



Few would be surprised by the results of a recent study which found that teachers in some SA schools spent only a fraction of the time they should in the classroom.
A working paper by the International Monetary Fund found that many teachers had low levels of motivation. The paper, titled Struggling to make the grade, looked into what it said were the causes and consequences of the weak outcomes of SA’s education system.
The researchers found that 20% of SA’s teachers were absent on Mondays and Fridays, and 33% did not pitch up for work at month-end.
They found that in predominantly black schools‚ teachers taught an average of just 3½ hours a day, compared with the average of about 6½ hours a day in former model C schools.
On average‚ an SA teacher missed 11% of teaching time due to absenteeism.
Tragic as they are, these findings are not shocking. They are some of the major root causes of our education crisis, in particular the poor quality of teaching and learning at most basic levels.
Indeed, there are several structural and even infrastructure challenges which affect the functionality of our schools.
As far as teachers are concerned, however, there are perhaps two major themes that need to be addressed.
On one hand is the poor support given to teachers, thanks to systemic inefficiencies in government.
These go beyond teacher remuneration, to creating a safe and effective environment for teachers to work in.
The second is a poor culture of accountability for teachers who neglect their duty, and undermine the system through personal or political means.
Until these are significantly addressed, the large investment by the public and private sector every year will not yield the returns we should be expecting.
Ultimately, the highest cost is to the future of our children.

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