The Varkey Foundation and the University of Sussex has released its latest Global Teacher Status Index for 2018, which gives insights into the world of teaching in 35 countries across the globe.
While South Africa is not covered in the 2018 survey, enough data exists on local educators remuneration compare how local educators are remunerated when compared to their global peers.
According to the report, Swiss teachers are the highest paid, drawing an annual salary of $77,491 (adjusted for purchasing power parity); followed by Germany ($65,396), Singapore ($50,249), Spain ($47,864) and the United States ($44,229).
Educators in Uganda are the worst-paid, according to the report, with an adjusted an annual salary of $4,205, below Russia ($5,923), Egypt ($6,592), Ghana ($7,249) and Argentina ($10,371).
Including South Africa in the rankings, it would place in the middle (17th out of 36).
Teacher salaries in South Africa vary greatly depending on where they teach, at what level and whether the school is private or public and what qualifications they have.
For teachers in the public sector, salaries are scaled, with the minimum a low-level teacher can earn being around R110,000 a year, ramping up to over R900,000 for principals and heads of departments.
Using data from salary database PayScale, the salary range for primary school teachers in South Africa is between R80,000 and R275,000 with the median sitting at R177,500.
For high school teachers, pay increases, ranging between R120,000 and R300,000, with the median sitting at R200,000.
Overall (taking both primary and high school into account), the median salary sits at about R188,000 a year – or just over R15,600 a month.
Adjusting for purchasing power parity (PPP rate of 6.08, World Bank data), this puts a South African teacher’s comparable salary at $30,920 per annum, which ranks rather favourably when compared to other countries in the GTS report.
This is how South Africa compares.
When adjusted for cost of living (PPP), South Africa’s teachers earn on par with the likes of Japan and Turkey, not sitting too far below New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Local teachers are remunerated at levels half of those in Germany and Switzerland – and more than triple BRICS fellows like China, Brazil and Russia.
According to the report, there is a growing shortage of skilled teachers around the world, with its findings showing that even in top countries like the US, highly qualified graduates are less likely to pursue teaching as a career.
One of the key issues identified was focused on teachers’ salaries, as well as their hourly workload and whether the performance of children on comparable educational tests across many countries of the world is correlated with teachers’ salaries.
The survey delved into what people thought would be a fair wage for teachers, as well as their estimate for what teachers earned in their respective countries, and compared it to the actual wage being earned.
Of the 35 countries surveyed, only seven paid teachers more than respondents thought they should earn – with the balance paying below that level.
“In the majority of countries, actual teacher wages were lower than what was perceived to be fair by respondents. In South American and African countries people think teachers ought to be rewarded with fair pay that is between 40-60% more than what they are presently getting,” the group said.
While the general public over-estimates what teachers earn – the reverse is true when it comes to estimates on how many hours teachers work, with only six countries guessing that teachers work for longer than they do.
“The general public systematically underestimates how much teachers work per week – often by more than ten hours a week,” the foundation said.