Mass exodus of young teachers from South Africa

A growing number of South African teachers are leaving their posts for positions abroad.

Speaking to the Citizen, the South African Council of Educators (Sace) said the exodus of young, qualified teachers was of great concern.

“This is a dire situation and it is not the first time that it is raised,” said Sace spokesperson Thembinkosi Ndhlovu.

“We also dealt with this issue about a year or two ago after we realised that qualified South African teachers were leaving the country in their numbers to go abroad seeking greener pastures,” he said.

These issues align with a report released at the end of 2018 by University of KwaZulu-Natal master’s student, Tatum Niemack.

The report found that South African teachers are being offered significantly higher salaries and working conditions by countries such as the UAE.

Cape Town teacher-placement agency SA-Recruitment said that close to 80 teachers had been recruited through the agency for Abu Dhabi posts in the past two years.

Teachers who make the move are provided with housing, medical insurance, and flight allowances for them and their family as part of the recruitment package, the report said.

Additionally, a month’s salary is offered as a bonus for every year they work there and is paid out at the end of their contract.

BusinessTech has also previously reported that countries like New Zealand are directly targeting South African teachers as they face education shortages of their own.

“This has implications for the brain drain and is leaving the country in short supply of valuable experience and good teachers,” said Ndhlovu

“Teachers, especially experienced ones, leaving the profession is not good for the country as invested knowledge and skills are needed.”

Wages and other problems

According to the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council, teacher salaries vary broadly in SA between R115,500 – and R993,500.

This is typically dependent on experience, private vs public schools wages, and seniority.

According to an April report from relocation company CapRelo, local teachers earn an average of $19,452 (R273,209) annually – far less than the global average of $27,175.

However, low wages are not the only issues currently facing South African teachers.

A report released by the Department of Education in July found that South African teachers are spending a hefty amount of time on administrative tasks – time which could be better used on teaching in the classroom.

At least 66% of classroom time is spent on actual teaching and learning in South Africa, compared to 78% in other countries.

Administrative burdens and keeping order in the classroom are some of the challenges cited by South African teachers.

Teachers also cited the difficulties with the multicultural and multilingual settings of many classrooms.

On average in South Africa, 62% of teachers work in a classroom with at least 10% of students whose first language is different from the language of instruction, which is the highest share across the OECD countries and partners.

The report also highlighted gender disparities in the teaching profession in the country, where 60% of teachers are female, yet only 20% of principals are women.

Classroom size was also highlighted as a huge challenge for teachers.

Read: This is how much South Africans can earn teaching English in China

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Mass exodus of young teachers from South Africa