Good news for teaching jobs in South Africa – and how much they earn

 ·5 Aug 2022

Western Cape MEC David Maynier says that his department is in a position to appoint in excess of a thousand teachers in the province for the 2023 academic year.

“Last month, I met with stakeholders as part of the annual consultation process according to the provisions of the Employment of Educators Act, and shared the news that the Basket of Affordable Posts for teachers will be increased by 1,143 posts for 2023,” said Maynier.

“This increased allocation will allow for the appointment of up to 1,143 additional teachers to the current staff of the Western Cape Education Department.”

He said that the details of the distribution of these posts are still to be finalised as part of the stakeholder consultation process. “This is a much-needed boost to our system. In previous years, our budget has allowed us to only expand by as little as 6 additional posts, as seen in 2016, with increases thereafter.

“What this increase does is to put us in a better position to expand learning opportunities and deliver quality education in the Western Cape,” said Maynier.

He said that once the engagements with education stakeholders regarding the distribution of the posts have been finalised, the department will be able to inform schools of their teacher allocation for 2023. This is scheduled to be communicated by the end of August 2022, which will give schools the opportunity to plan ahead for the 2023 school year, the MEC said.

“Our principals, teachers, and staff are our greatest asset, and they are always willing and able to share their experience and knowledge with those joining our schools through our new post allocations,” said Maynier.

Year Number of teachers Teacher posts added
2016 32 039 +6
2017 32 320 + 281
2018 32 894 +574
2019 33 436 +542
2020 33 865 +429
2021 33 865 No change
2021* 34 384 +519
2022 34 974 +590
2022* 35 274 +300
2023 36 417 +1 143

* Adjusted 1 April

Fresh appointments within the province come at a time when education experts point to a looming skills shortage in the country. Almost half of South Africa’s teachers are going to have to retire in the next 10 years, according to Julian Hewitt, chief executive officer of the educator bursary programme, the Jake Gerwell Fellowship.

Speaking to 702 recently, Hewitt said that the Department of Education’s payroll showed that the country’s schools are expected to run out of highly skilled teachers. The latest Jake Gerwell Fellowship annual report shows that 45% of all government-employed teachers will retire in the next decade – pointing to a potential teacher crisis.

“At least half the teachers in South Africa are in their 50s at the moment, and the retirement age is 60, so there is a looming crisis.”

This is compounded by the other major challenge facing the industry, being that there is poor uptake in teaching as a career of choice, said Hewitt.

One potential reason for this is the relatively low salaries paid within the profession, among many others. In February, The Department of Basic Education published updated information on how much money teachers earn in South Africa.

Attrition rate

Data published by the Department of Education showed that the average teacher attrition rate over the five years to 2020 was 15,200. The effect of Covid-19 was also directly observable in 2020 and 2021, with an increase in the number of deceased educators, it said.

However, it said that the country’s schools are able to replace these educators.

“Considering the current output of education graduates there is adequate supply, at least, in terms of quantity to fulfil the need.” It said that the supply is still favoured towards SP/FET graduates. “Any indication that more educators leave the system than joiners may mainly be the function of provisioning or availability of posts than the shortage of supply.”

The department stated that one of the proxy indicators of the shortage of educators is the extent to which schools appoint unqualified educators.

“The number of unqualified educators in schools has reduced substantially over the years. As of the end of December 2021, there were 1,028 unqualified educators employed in schools which amount to 0.3% of all educators. Initiatives such as the Funza Lushaka Bursary scheme have assisted in improving the supply in shortage areas of specialisation.”

Teacher salaries

Teacher pay in the country is based on ‘notches’ by post level – with an entry and maximum notch reflecting salary increases for the public service in 2021.

“This is a pensionable basic salary notch excluding the benefits and the additional R1,000 non-pensionable across-the-board allowance which was part of the salary agreement,” the Department of Education said.

The annual entry notch for an educator that meets minimum qualification, which is currently Relative Equivalent Qualification Value (REQV) 13, or a Matric plus three years of study, is R214,908. By comparison, the minimum entry for an educator with REQV 14 (Matric plus four years of study) is R284,238.

Most new entrants to the system possess a four-year qualification or enter at the minimum of REQV14, the department said.

This figure steadily increases with age and experience, with school principals earning in excess of R1 million at the high end.

The department pointed out that the current system is designed so that teachers earn progressively more as they advance through the system.

“The Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) reform introduced a salary structure with long and overlapping scales where an educator, subject to achieving satisfactory performance, can pay progress annually effectively for the rest of their career,” it said.

Cost-to-employer and age 

“As expected, when considering all educators the percentage difference between the 30 and below and the 65 and above is high at 37% as the older educators are more likely to be in school management posts,” the department said.

“When considering the PL1 category only, the effect of age is much lower at 18% between the youngest and the oldest groups.” The largest difference when considering the percentage between age categories is the difference between 31-39 and 40-49.

“Age does affect earnings but to a lesser extent than promotion to higher posts. Generally, age, as linked to pay progression in terms of the OSD, should lead to higher earnings even without promotion.

Read: Major skills shortage looms for schools in South Africa

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