There’s a shortage of willingness to invest the profession with respect and support. There’s a shortage of willingness to make the jobs appealing enough to attract and retain all the people schools want to attract and retain. 

Like others I too believed that the biggest challenge might be “teacher shortage” but i now begin to see things differently and I stand to be corrected. Theres just a number of factors that could be seen or pose as a challenge of course perhaps birthing the main  challenge of shortage of teachers. I aim to explore this just so we can see that it might not be shortage of teachers thats the problem but why no one becomes less interested in the fraternity. 

The Centre for Development and Enterprise predicted that South Africa will need to have 456,000 teachers by 2025 to offer quality education. According to the Department of Basic Education, South Africa’s public education system has 410,000 teachers and this was way back in 2013.

A teacher shortage occurs when there are not enough teachers in key subject areas, which has been partly caused by years of teacher layoffs during the Great Recession, a growing student population and fewer people entering teacher preparation programs, according to the Learning Policy Institute .

Teacher shortage or Teacher aging?


The Teaching and Learning International Survey published in July 2019 found that the average age of the South African teacher was 43 years. The survey also found that 32% of teachers were aged 50 and above. This means that in the next decade almost half of the current teaching workforce will have to be replaced.

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Get out of class!

In addition, South Africa is particularly lagging in producing teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This clearly means teachers take up other courses and not particularly the subjects in high demand like English as a Second Language (ESL). ESL educators are some of the most in demand teachers,actually English teachers in particular and not only in SA. Math Teaching. Another teacher subject in demand is mathematics if which not a lot of teachers specialize in it. A few that does would probably be teachers from others parts of Africa like Zimbabwe. 

There’s no adequate support for teachers

Science Teaching. The lack if resources in our schools is so discouraging that even teachers don’t at some point see a need to specialise in this field. Its only a few with the hope that they will be appointed by very resourceful schools. Social Studies Teaching and Special Education Teaching (Inclusive Education)

Teachers often cite working conditions, such as the support of their principals and the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues, as the top reason for leaving. More than 1 in 4 teachers who leave say they do so to pursue other career opportunities. Theres just no support from the ground level. I have spoken with many Educators who feel that and/or left because they just were not supported enough by thier Department and supervisors. A few of thier complains were:

  1. Lack of resources.
  2. No enough time fot teaching and learning due to a lot of admin work.
  3. Workload(number if learners in classes).
  4. The not so available teacher protection policy.
  5. Curriculum developers not including teachers in the meetings. 
  6. Salaries not enough.
  7. How teachers are undermined by supervisors.
  8. Too many workshops and no follow ups made.
  9. Stakeholders non participation.,etc
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How can we improve this? States, school districts,etc have the power to make changes that will attract and retain teachers. Increasing teacher pay, improving professional development, and fostering learning communities are among the solutions.

Can the problem of teacher shortage be resolved?

Teacher Shortage

Creating high-retention pathways into teaching, through which students are fully prepared to become teachers, including residencies and Grow Your Own programs that recruit and prepare community members to teach in local school districts. Providing mentoring and induction for new teachers.

According to research by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the teacher shortage could reach 200,000 by 2025, up from 110,000 in 2018. This shortage of workers is due to a number of factors. Among them are pay, working conditions, lack of support, lack of autonomy, and the changing curriculum.

Studies reveal a deepening shortage………

Studies from 2018 show there is a shortage of around 112,000 teachers across the U.S. hence you see most teachers in SA leave yo join them as they are offered a much better salary and thus improve thier living conditions.While the reasons for teacher shortages are complicated, the effects are easier to see. A lack of teachers significantly reduces the quality of education each student receives. Clearly when there’s a shirtage of teachers we can forget about quality education.

In recent years, education researchers and journalists who cover education have called attention to the growing teacher shortage in the nation’s K–12 schools(Kindergarten to Secondary schools).They cite a variety of indicators of the shortage, including state-by-state subject area vacancies, personal testimonials and data from state and school district officials, and declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs. These indicators are critical signals. They help analysts detect when there are not enough qualified teachers to fill staffing needs in a labor market that does not operate like other labor markets.

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Wages

Teacher Shortage

School teachers’ wages are not subject to market pressures—they are set by school districts through contracts that take time to negotiate. School teachers’ wages are not subject to market pressures—they are set by school districts through contracts that take time to negotiate. Therefore, economists can’t use trends in wages—sudden or sustained wage increases—to establish that there is a labor market shortage (as the textbook explanation would indicate). It is also hard to produce direct measurements of the number of teachers needed and available (i.e., “missing”).

My opinion also is that The current national estimates of the teacher shortage likely understate the magnitude of the problem because the estimates consider the new qualified teachers needed to meet new demand. However, not all current teachers meet the education, experience, and certification requirements associated with being a highly qualified teacher.

By Sifa Vallery Tema

Sifa Vallery Tema..A Speaker; Teacher and Writer born in Mogoditshane. God fearing with a passion for Education,change and Transformation.