How much money teachers earn in South Africa

This article has been updated with new information here.

South Africa doesn’t graduate an adequate number of teachers to meet the supply and demand, and a retiring teacher base is starting to skew pupil to teacher ratios in the country’s classrooms, says private higher education institution Mancosa.

“More teachers are leaving than entering the profession. Currently, the country’s initial teacher institutions graduate 15,000 new teachers per year. This is below the 25,000-mark required to maintain an effective teacher-pupil ratio,” said Professor Magnate Ntombela, principal of Mancosa.

“There is a dire need to find 20,000 newly-qualified teachers each year to maintain current teacher-pupil ratios,” he said.

National Treasury previously warned that low compensation growth of 0.8% over the medium-term expenditure framework period, combined with early retirements, will reduce the number of available teachers in the country.

It said that this, coupled with a rising number of learners, implies larger class sizes, especially in no-fee schools, which is expected to negatively affect learning outcomes.

The government has attempted to address the problem through lowering selection criteria, a report by Amnesty International shows.

“However, the system is still producing too few teachers, especially in areas where they are most needed, such as teaching literacy in early grades.

“The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has estimated that universities need to produce 4,300 African mother-tongue-speaking foundation-phase teachers every year just to replace those leaving the profession. In 2012, only 1,219 such teachers graduated,” the group said.

As of October 2021, there are an estimated 26,000 schools, 400,000 teachers and close to 13 million learners across South Africa’s schools.


What teachers are paid – average 

Teacher salaries in South Africa vary greatly depending on where they teach, their experience and qualifications, and whether the school is public or privately-owned.

Average teacher pay in the country is also highly dependent on the age structure of the workforce. The average age of South Africa’s teachers in 2019 was 46. A large cohort of older teachers is expected to retire in the coming decade, to be replaced by a cohort of younger teachers.

Because of this, finding an average salary across differing schools, education levels and employers can be challenging.

This is reflected in the data from salary database PayScale, which shows the salary range for primary school teachers in South Africa ranges anywhere between R80,000 and R300,000, with the median sitting at R194,000 annually – or just over R16,100 a month.

For high school teachers, pay increases, ranging between R100,000 and R340,000, with the median sitting at R232,385. Overall, taking both primary and high school into account, the median salary sits at about R213,000 a year – or just over R17,700 a month.

Government vs private school salaries 

Salary data published by the National Treasury and the Department of Basic education shows just how widely pay differs across schools, qualifications, education levels and experience.

Level 1 teachers are the lowest paid and least experienced teachers and can expect to earn from R126,720 per annum or R10,560 a month. By comparison, the salary for principals starts at over R346,000 a year or R29,000 a month. Those at the high-end of the scale can earn upwards of R60,000 a month.

The below tables, published in 2019, provide an overview of just how salary notches can vastly differ based on age and qualifications.

Information on private school teacher salaries is somewhat easier to calculate – especially in the case of JSE-listed companies.

Data from private education company Curro shows that as of the end of the 2020 financial year the group spent close to R1.1 billion on teacher salaries annually, with approximately 3,650 teachers employed over the financial year.

This would make the average salary for teachers at just over R300,500 a year for both primary and high school teachers – around R25,000 a month.

This figure can also fluctuate greatly based on the school and qualifications, with some prestigious private schools paying teachers substantially more – especially if they have additional duties around sports, extra-curricular activities or boarding schools.


Read: 6 things that are more expensive in South Africa at the start of 2022

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How much money teachers earn in South Africa