Key findings: There has been a decline in students taking the Initial Professional Education of Teachers (IPET) qualifications indicating an estimate of 9 000 graduates of whom at least about 3 000 may already be practising educators in 2004. Sources other than newly qualified educators could enter the teaching profession, including educators on leave and unemployed or temporary educators. Trends from labour force surveys show that the number of those unemployed who are qualified in education has declined significantly. In other words, the educator pool is decreasing and therefore the employment of educators depends more on the availability of newly qualified educators.
There has been a decline in students taking the Initial Professional Education of Teachers (IPET) qualifications, namely the undergraduate Bachelor of Education (BEd) and the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). Self-reported data from the Deans’ Forum in 2004 indicated that education institutions are producing at best approximately 9 000 graduates of whom at least about 3 000 may already be practising educators.
The majority of students who are currently studying initial professional teacher education programmes (IPET) are studying through distance education at Unisa. This is in terms of self-reported data to the Deans’ Forum (2004). The profile of these students in terms of race and status of employment is important. The majority of these students are white female education graduates and probably many of these are already practising educators (see Table 1).
Table 1: Pre-service teacher education and postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) (degree count as on 04 June 2004), University of South Africa (Unisa)
Source: Ministerial Committee on Teacher Education (2005)
The decline in enrolment is significant among black Africans. Improved career opportunities for black applicants have not only reduced the number of applicants who enter the education sector, but have also had an impact on the supply of educators because even the small pool of education graduates may not necessarily end up teaching. They are likely to seek employment in other fields where their teaching skills are valued, such as in training-related careers or marketing.
It was also found that the older patterns of oversupply in urban schools and undersupply in rural schools have persisted and newly trained educators have difficulty in finding posts (even in rural schools).
It is difficult to assess what proportion of newly qualified educators enters the teaching profession. Some local tracer surveys conducted at different times suggest that a minority of educators actually do not enter the teaching profession. Based on the Educator School Survey, the student educator survey and local tracer studies, it appears that educators seem to have been trained sufficiently in key learning areas of mathematics, natural sciences and technology but may not always be teaching in these key areas. However, self-reported data on learning areas currently taught and trained in may be biased. We were not able to access more accurate data on qualifications of educators employed and needed.
Unqualified and underqualified educators
In 2000, 76 839 (22%) educators were considered unqualified or under-qualified, which is a decrease from 122 459 (36%) in 1994. In the 2004 School Educator Survey, the percentage of unqualified or under-qualified educators further declined to 8.3%; this was higher in primary (11.1%) than in secondary (2.8%) schools; higher in rural (9.0%) than in urban schools (7.5%); higher among coloured (13.8%) than white (2.2%) educators, and more than 10% in North West, Free State, Northern and Western Cape Provinces.
The pool of educators
Sources other than newly qualified educators could enter the teaching profession, including educators on leave and unemployed or temporary educators. Data from PERSAL, the government’s payroll system, show that the number of temporary or contract educators among employed educators has significantly declined over the past five years. Trends from labour force surveys show that the number of those unemployed who are qualified in education has declined significantly. PERSAL data show that the employment of older educators (35 years and above) has dropped from 56% in 1998/99 to 31% in 2002/03, indicating that fewer educators from an educator pool (returning to teaching) and more newly qualified educators (being less than 35 years) are being employed. In other words, the educator pool is decreasing and therefore the employment of educators depends more on the availability of newly qualified educators.
A Department of Education (DoE) survey showed a current figure of 11 000 unemployed educators, of which a significant number trained before the introduction of the Revised National Curriculum Statement (RNCS). These educators will have to attend training courses to acquaint them with the new curriculum.
Looking at international migration, there are more educators leaving the country than coming into South Africa since 1999. Overall, the net loss of educators increased to almost 1 800 in 2003 (see Figure 1). When looking at the internal mobility of educators, the Educator School Survey (Shisana et al. 2005) found that mobility and deployment to rural areas is associated with higher HIV prevalence.
Figure 1: Trend in estimated net migration of educators