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20 June 2005

Factsheet 1: Potential for Attrition

Press Release

Key finding: The study revealed that 55% of educators intend to leave the education profession. Two-thirds of this group fall in the technology, natural sciences, economics and management fields. Some of the reasons for wanting to leave the education profession include low job satisfaction and job stress. If low satisfaction and job stress can be addressed, in particular, potential attrition can be reduced. Violence in and around educational institutions is another possible deterrent for educators.


One of the key objectives of the study was to determine the attrition rate among educators and the reasons for it. A powerful predictor to determine attrition can be measured in terms of an educator’s intention to leave or quit the service.

The study revealed that 55% of educators intended to leave the education profession. Of those who had considered leaving, 24.9% considered leaving ?from time to time? and 29.3% considered leaving the education profession?very often?.

Although the majority of educators indicated intent to leave, specific groups of educators are more likely to leave than others: non-Africans, males, secondary school teachers, those in the age group 25?49, those with higher qualifications, those falling in the medium to high income group, and those teaching technology, economics and management, and natural sciences. Educators living in urban areas were also more likely to leave the profession than those living in rural areas.

Teachers less likely to leave are those with lower educational qualifications, and older teachers likely to retire five years from now.

Concerning intention to leave, problems with teaching methods and administration were clearly the main factors with, to a lesser extent, problems with the education system. About the same number of teachers indicated teaching methods and administration as either the reasons why they want to leave, or do not want to leave.

In examining intention to leave by HIV status and HIV morbidity, the results show that HIV-negative educators are more likely than HIV-positive educators to want to leave the profession. In this decision, workload in terms of number of learners in a class and formal contact teaching hours, do not seem to be a factor.

The highest factor for job stress is low socio-economic status, followed by problems with teaching methods and administration, and problems with the educational system.

Violence in schools

Another factor that may contribute to teachers leaving the school system is the level of violence in and around schools. The three major forms of violence that educators experienced in the past 12 months, included instances where learners or educators have been found carrying weapons into the educational institution (22%), assault (18%) and fights involving weapons (14.4%).

Violent events at the educational institution seemed to have had an impact on the morale of educators and increased their probability of leaving the profession.

More violence was experienced at urban schools than in rural schools, and more at secondary schools than other schools. Reported violence was highest in Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga, and lowest in Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Northern Cape provinces.

Table: Violence experienced or occurred in educational institution in the past 12 months

  N % 95% CI
1 Learners and/or educators have been found carrying weapons onto your institutions premises 4600 22.3 20.8? 23.8
2 Someone was assaulted at your institution or on the way to the institution 3627 18.4 17.1? 19.8
3 A fight involving weapons took place at your institutions premises 2881 14.4 13.0? 15.4
4 Awareness of gangs operating at your institution 1945 9.1 8.1? 10.2
5 Someone else was sexually harassed at your institution 1119 5.1 4.7? 5.7
6 A person was raped at your institution 798 3.9 3.5? 4.4
7 A person was shot at your institution or on the way to the institution 489 2.8 2.3? 3.4
8 A person was killed at your institution 343 1.9 1.5? 2.5


A major concern is the large percentage of educators considering leaving the education service (55%), citing reasons of low job satisfaction and job stress.

Low job satisfaction can be addressed through negotiation on conditions of service between the DoE and the labour unions in the ELRC. The issues requiring resolution are: lack of career advancement and recognition, and the teaching structure in terms of working hours, workload and policies.

Concerns relating to the mode of discipline of students require in-depth discussions between the DoE and unions. This does not imply that corporal punishment should be reinstated, but that a more effective incentive for disciplining learners is required. Such a method should aim to restore respect for educators.

Regarding job stress, the discussion between the DoE and unions may entail teaching methods and administrative issues. The DoE should also consider providing support to educators, especially those who had difficulties in teaching OBE, and in other areas (Fact Sheet 4).

The study found that violence at school was common, with the problem differing by province. The study recommends that the DoE work together with the South African Police Service to increase security at schools for the teachers.

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