More teachers are urgently required in South Africa, especially in key subjects such as mathematics and science. The teacher training system produces about a third of the 25 000 new teachers the country needs to produce annually.
Teachers play a central role in determining the outcome of any education system. The South African education system is underperforming: compared with other developing countries, South Africa’s spending on education is not being matched by results.
A great deal of existing teachers are poorly managed, spend too little time in the classroom and teach poorly when they are in the classroom.
We should ask whether teacher training, improvement programmes and retention should be linked to market forces. Teachers in scarce subjects who are performing should be selectively rewarded and better paid.
The challenge of providing enough good teachers to meet South Africa’s current and future needs will not be resolved simply by bringing political will to bear on public institutions – markets forces should also be harnessed. Private players and public institutions should compete for public funds.