Key Points:

  • 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.