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Head of Education Ron Swartz responds to row over staff exodus

Resource type: News

Cape Argus (South Africa) |

Ron Swartz, Head of Education in the Western Cape, has responded to a list of questions, and reports in the Cape Argus, as follows: “Unfortunately, both the discussions on this issue and reporting have been superficial and certainly warrant further debate. “We took issue with the original report in the Cape Argus because it edited out statistics which did not support the main angle of the story. “The fact is that teachers have always left the profession for “greener pastures”. “What we are seeing now is not a new phenomenon, but there may be some interesting new trends: the international aspect (open employment borders), the new economic dispensation in South Africa and therefore access to a whole new range of career options; internal poaching by wealthy schools and where School Governing Body teachers seem to be “invisible” in this discussion. “The issue is also global: South Africa is not the only country experiencing these problems and neither are the reasons for exiting the system unique to South Africa. “Of concern was the shortage of teachers in specific disciplines like maths, science and languages (also an international phenomenon), as well as the smaller numbers of young people enrolling for teaching. “In general, we can be assured the attrition levels we experience are “normal” (comparatively speaking) and we have sufficient teachers to fill the vacancies that we have; our teacher corps is not too old and with our projected growth levels (learner numbers, schools, etc) we should be comfortable for the foreseeable future. “However, we need to ensure that we introduce retention strategies as well as more attractive marketing programmes to lure more younger people into the profession; “The profession must also take a great deal of the blame for the disillusionment with teaching by ensuring that high standards are upheld in their daily working life, irrespective of the levels of salary and workload issues. “Teachers have always been dissatisfied with their working conditions, and this is reflected in most parts of the world. The important thing is that both the profession and the state need to make serious efforts at bolstering the profession and restoring its dignity.”

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