Higher Education Minister must account for under-supply of teachers

Tom Stokes, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Education

The KwaZulu-Natal education portfolio committee has today passed a resolution to call on Higher Education Minister, Blade Mzimande, to attend their next meeting to report back on what is being done to deal with the under-supply of teachers to the province.

The resolution is the result of a question posed by the DA during today’s committee meeting, and the subsequent answer, which strongly indicates that the Minister has no clue what to do and has instead shrugged off the problem, leaving it to provincial education departments to resolve.

This is an extremely disturbing situation and points to the possibility of a complete break-down in the entire education system in the near future.

Across the country, the gap between new teachers coming into the system and those exiting is widening. This is especially so in scarce subjects such as maths and science. Government’s answer to the present shortage has been to employ temporary and unqualified teachers.

But this cannot continue. There will come a point where there will simply be thousands of classes without teachers.

According to the KZN;s education department, the changing curriculum has left thousands of teachers unqualified as “old” subject qualifications no longer fit the new curriculum. Take this into account with the shortage of teachers, and we are in serious trouble.

It is increasingly apparent that Higher Education is not able to fix the problem and that, while legislation and curriculum is changing, this department is failing to transform at the same pace. Answers must be provided for the severe dislocation between the supply entity – in this case the Higher Education department – and the demand entity, the Basic Education department in terms of both quantity and quality.

It is essential that the Minister appear before this province’s education portfolio committee and account directly for the lack of observable changes in response to the demand for teacher training.

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