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UN warns of African teacher shortage
Ntsakisi Maswanganyi, Business Day, Johannesburg, 6 October 2016
SUB-Saharan Africa, a region with the fastest-growing school-age population,
will need 17-million primary and secondary school teachers by 2030.
This is according to Unesco's Institute for Statistics, which on Wednesday
released a report on teacher requirements to mark World Teachers' Day.
Education is one of the areas that organisations, including the IMF, and
rating agencies say SA needs to reform to boost the chances of the
unemployed finding jobs.
There is also a pressing need for well-trained, well-qualified and properly
paid teachers, according to the institute. It found that in 31 of the 96
countries with available data, less than 80% of primary school teachers were
trained according to national standards in 2014.
South African teacher unions shared the institute's sentiments, particularly
over the need for more teachers and training.
"With the changes in the curriculum, we feel the training teachers are
receiving is not enough. Teachers are being offered one- or two-week courses
and those are not enough," said South African Democratic Teachers Union
(SADTU) spokeswoman Nomusa Cembi.
When teacher-training colleges were closed, SADTU strongly opposed the move,
and although they have welcomed education degrees being offered at
universities, they say these are too theoretical.
Teacher training was not keeping up with the changes in the education
system, National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA executive
director Basil Manuel said. "The quality and consistency of teacher training
has to be improved. The education department is not spending sufficient
money on skilling and reskilling teachers. We have to retrain people at
least once a year," Manuel said.
Globally, countries must recruit almost 69-million teachers in the next 14
years to provide every child with primary and secondary education, according
to the report. Of the 69-million, 24.4-million will be primary school
teachers and 44.4-million secondary school teachers.
The 69-million is the number of teachers that will need to be recruited to
achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4, which demands inclusive and
equitable quality education for all by 2030.
For sub-Saharan Africa, the 17-million teachers includes 6.3-million
teachers for primary schools and 10.8-million for secondary schools.
Sub-Saharan Africa was already struggling to keep up with demand, with more
than 70% of the region's countries facing acute shortages of primary school
teachers, rising to 90% for secondary education.
Teachers and students across the region were already struggling with
overcrowded classrooms, the institute said. The success of education systems
depended on the availability of teachers; on whether teachers had the
training, resources and support needed to do their job; and on whether they
had a manageable number of children instead of 60, 70 or even more pupils in
a class, Unesco Institute of Statistics director Silvia Montoya said.
Better pay for teachers would attract the best graduates into the profession
and give them an incentive to stay, CEO of the Varkey Foundation - which
runs the Global Teacher Prize - Vikas Pota said.
Pota acknowledged, however, that "the stretched finances" of some developing
countries limited their ability to adequately compensate teachers, and urged
for the international community to help with funding.
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