|Turbulence or Orderly Change? Teacher Supply and Demand in South Africa - Current Status, Future Needs and the Impact of HIV/AIDS (CIE, 2000, 36 p.)|
The most important over-arching point is that our conclusions are highly tentative, in particular in reference to teacher supply. The in-depth sociological and economic analyses of teacher identity, occupational choice, and the dynamics of the teacher labour market in South Africa, which would be needed to underpin a serious policy and planning position on these matters, simply have not been done. We are offering a first approximation review of extremely complex issues. We challenge our colleagues and the education establishment in South Africa to undertake the necessary studies. In particular, we call for an extensive random sample survey of teachers and case-controls in the labour market and society at large, combined with a qualitative analysis; a study that takes the individual and collective voice of teachers seriously enough to honour it with the best research possible. We feel that the choices young people make, in terms of choosing or not choosing the teaching occupation, are simply not sufficiently understood, and that unless this understanding is improved many-fold, policy and planning mistakes are very likely.
The main findings from the analysis that underpins this chapter were stated in the initial overview. They present a picture of the teaching labour force that is partly at odds with some current policy related rhetoric. They highlight a number of important issues that must be configured into debate over future policy on teacher education.
To inform current debate we note that:
1. Teachers differ from the South African labour force in a number of important ways. Significantly, their earnings are generally well above the mean, and their reported working hours are less than other groups. From the data there is no macro level evidence that teaching is an unattractive occupation as a result of pay levels.
2. Teacher turnover since 1995 has not been high and follows fairly predictable characteristics. Most who join and leave are young. Those who establish themselves in teaching as a career tend to stay. This is consistent with income data that indicates that most, except the most well qualified, enjoy an income advantage over similarly qualified individuals in other occupations.
3. The current supply of teachers appears to be well below that which is likely to be needed to meet normal demand arising from demographic factors. The likely effects of HIV/AIDS will create very considerable additional demand. For this to be met several things need to change.
First the propensity for young people to choose a teaching career and enter training has to increase substantially. There has been an (over) reaction to hiring freezes which has undermined demand from students.
Second, training capacity has been radically reduced from the (over) generous levels provided in 1994. It appears necessary to consider a new expansion. If the need is confirmed, consideration has to be given to cost effective modes of initial training which may differ from those historically in place.
Third, HIV/AIDS will rewrite the teacher supply and demand equations on current projections. The implications are as yet poorly understood but evidently very extensive. New systems of training and deployment are likely to be needed to meet this challenge.