Angie Motshekga. Picture: GCIS
Angie Motshekga. Picture: GCIS

The lack of sufficiently qualified and competent teachers remained a major problem in SA with KwaZulu-Natal the worst affected province, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Monday.

Motshekga revealed that on average about 60% of all unqualified and underqualified educators are appointed in KwaZulu-Natal’s rural districts such as Zululand, uThukela and uThungulu. SA has about 420,000 teachers.

The lack of qualified teachers and the general poor quality of teaching has largely been blamed for dismal education outcomes, especially in subjects such as maths and science.

The Department of Basic Education revealed in 2013 that there were slightly more than 7,000 unqualified teachers.

Teacher unions have previously claimed that some schools were forced to hire anyone including those without proper qualifications because of teacher shortages in the country.

In a written response to questions in Parliament, Motshekga said that out of a total of 5,139 who lacked the requisite skills in 2016, 2,875 were in KwaZulu-Natal.

Motshekga said that the subjects most affected included maths, sciences and technology at all levels and African language teaching, particularly at the foundation phase.

"The focus of the department, at a national level, is to address the supply of educators through various initiatives. These include the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme, which focuses on mathematics, sciences, technology and African languages, and the appointment of foreign educators qualified to teach scarce skills," the minister said.

Education analyst Graeme Bloch said the government had in recent years focused on building more schools and neglected the need to produce "high-calibre teachers".

In another response to a DA question, Motshekga revealed that the Western Cape, and not the Free State, was the top-performing province in the 2016 matric results.

The results are based on the department’s new format of reporting that is known as "An Inclusive Basket of Criteria" and which provides a more comprehensive account of a school’s performance, factoring in bachelor passes, distinctions, mathematics participation and the dropout rate.

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