University of Pretoria
TEACHER SUPPLY AND DEMAND IN SOUTH AFRICA
The supply and demand of teachers is currently a concern internationally and locally. In South Africa, the main challenge emanating from teacher shortages is the concern for quality teachers in the classroom, particularly in under-resourced rural schools. Most research studies indicate an impending shortage of teachers in the country, indicating a clear lack of fit between overall supply and demand, and also between supply and demand for particular skills in particular schools. Shortages are being experienced in scarce skills areas such as Mathematics, Science and Technology, Languages and Arts, Economic and Management Sciences and in the Foundation and Intermediate Phases of the system. These trends differ per province. Furthermore, it has also been established that the supply of teachers is inadequate.
Taking note of the fact that the National Education Department developed strategies geared at dealing with supply and demand problems, the question is, to what extent are the objectives and activities turned into reality at provincial, district and school level. Research has reported on the current teacher demand in South Africa emanating from failure of the Education Department to forecast the demand and supply of teachers, as well as a lack of implementing plans to deal with the problem. On the demand side, it is clear that learner enrolments in schools are increasing annually, particularly in the urban areas where there is even a demand for new schools due to population growth, migration and the influx of learners into inner cities and metropolitan areas. The rate of teacher attrition is high as many teachers are leaving the profession for other career opportunities. Primarily, human resources are the most important instrument in ensuring the provision of quality education. It is therefore critical that human resource planners carry out realistic teacher recruitment and retention activities to achieve objectives relating to: Forecasting the supply of and demand for teachers; Recruit new teachers into training; Implement strategies to retain teachers and make the profession attractive; Assess the effective utilization of teachers at schools relative to their specialization and; Analyse socio-economic factors (HIV/Aids, migration, etc.) which may aggravate the shortage. A critical analysis of the existing teacher training system and reflecting on current recruitment practices will be instrumental towards employing effective corrective measures.
Introduction and Background
The supply and demand of teachers is currently a concern internationally and locally. In South Africa, the main challenge emanating from teacher shortages is the concern for quality teachers in the classroom, particularly in under-resourced rural schools. Most research studies indicate an impending shortage of teachers in the country, although its exact magnitude and timing is a matter of debate with certain assumptions about enrolment trends and learner-teacher ratios (DoE, 2006). Taking note of the fact that the National Education Department developed strategies geared at dealing with supply and demand problems (DoE, 2008), the question is, to what extent are the objectives and activities turned into reality at provincial, district and school level.
It is evident that there is clearly a lack of fit between overall supply and demand, and also between supply and demand for particular skills in particular schools. Shortages are being experienced in scarce skills areas such as Mathematics, Science and Technology, in Languages and Arts, and in the Economic and Management Sciences. Shortages are also being reported for the Foundation and Intermediate Phases of the system (DoE, 2006). Teacher shortages, as they currently occur in the South African education system may be the result of increases in demand as a result of decreases in supply. The labour market for teachers is continuously influenced by a larger labour market for all other occupations requiring roughly similar levels of education or skill (Boe, 2006).
Studies revealed that whilst many teachers are leaving the system, the supply is inadequate. Many countries, including South Africa, are dealing with problems of teacher supply and this raises important questions about the strategies that governments across the globe device to retain beginner teachers by optimising resources spent in preparing new teachers and ensuring that they improve their teaching capabilities and competence (Arends and Phurutse, 2009).
A 2008 study conducted by Diko and Letseka (2009) on teacher retention and attrition in South African public schools, with a focus on North-West Province, revealed that despite the estimated 5.5% teacher attrition rate and the insufficient production of teacher graduates by universities, these are unlikely to compromise the supply, or the current pool of teachers. They assert that the greatest threat to the retention of teachers in the teaching profession appears to be ways in which provincial and regional education offices appropriate teacher appointment policies and procedures. Inefficiencies in recruitment practices result from a delayed annual hiring cycle of teachers in public schools, intense utilization of temporary appointments usually based on renewable three-month contracts which neither offer long-term job security nor inspire the levels of commitment and accountability expected from teachers in permanent posts
The situation regarding teacher demand in South Africa results from educational planning decisions, for instance, the closing down of teacher training colleges, restricted teacher training capacity for financial reasons, and low teacher graduate output of higher education institutions (Ramrathan, Khan and Reddy, 2007) especially in the period 1990 to 2001, in which the numbers of newly trained teachers declined roughly from 100 000 to 13 000 (Park, 2006). Poor management of vacancy lists (Bertram, Appleton, Muthukrishna & Wedekind, 2006) and factors related to educational planning in provincial education departments such as, delays in filling of permanent posts which implies a decreasing number of permanent teachers which negatively affect the supply of teachers. Poor policy planning around teacher training and recruitment, as well as teacher development and support come at great cost to the education system and to the children they serve (Edwards and Spreen, 2007).
In an attempt to deal with the challenge of teacher shortages the Department of Education developed a number of strategies aimed at the management and development of teacher education in support of provincial education departments, through: the recruitment of teacher personnel; effective utilization of teachers by allowing them to teach according to their subject specialisation; reduction of class size as a key element in the post allocation system and the scheduling of teachers to curriculum needs. Furthermore it intends to increase teacher training, improve procedures for filling vacant posts in the Provincial Education Departments, develop a profile of teacher utilization by subject and qualifications and map out an operational database system to manage all non-salary related aspects of education human resource management (Education, 2008).
Based on this background it becomes imperative to examine the extent to which these key priorities are turned into reality at the level of Provinces, with focus on the supply and demand of teachers in the education system. An approach can be employed which examines the factors influencing the rate of supply and demand, and generate sufficiently accurate statistics to create models to project teacher supply and demand in the next 10 years.
Contextualization of the problem of teacher supply and demand
The profiles of teachers and students in South Africa indicates a steady increase of school based state-paid educators from 360 946 in 2004 to 371 449 in 2008, with a total number 11 873 162 learners and an overall learner: educator ratio of 32.0, though lack of physical classrooms result in large class sizes learners. In terms of age, an average of 89.1% of educators fell in the 30-54 year old age group, with a significant drop of about 47 044 noted for the age group 25 -39 between 2004 and 2008. The gender composition of the workforce of school based educators consists of 67% female and 33% male. A total of 23 000 were unqualified/under-qualified and 29 852 educators were appointed on temporary basis in 2008. The total number of terminations was 9 175 nationally in 2008, which constitute resignations, retirements, death and discharge due to ill health (DoE, 2009).
Various studies have presented compelling cases to suggest that there will be a massive shortage of teachers in South Africa in the future (Park 2006, Ramrathan, Khan and Reddy, 2007, Chisholm, 2009). Many of these studies, identify teacher attrition as a dominant contributing factor to teacher demand, which include teacher migration to pursue socio-economic and career opportunities abroad (Bertram, Appleton, Muthukrishna, Wedekind et al., 2006; Manik, 2007); high incidences of HIV/AIDS, and teacher mortality. An HIV prevalence of 12.7% was found among educators, with some provinces in South Africa harder hit than others, suggesting that the impact of the epidemic will also be experienced differently in the different provinces (Shisana, Peltzer, Zungu-Dirwayi & Louw, 2005). Data on mortality among educators suggested an increase in the number of deaths, especially among young educators (25–45 years) (Louw, Sishana, Peltzer & Zungu, 2009). The implication is that by 2010 more than 50 000 teachers would have died of this condition and that many more will be absent from work as a result of HIV/AIDS-related illnesses (Vass, 2003; Ramrathan, Khan, & Reddy. 2007). A significant increase in education sector costs is also expected owing to the impact of HIV & AIDS.
Studies on teacher supply and demand report on a normal attrition rate amongst older teachers but a high attrition rate among younger teachers. Arends and Phurutse (2009) explain that the problem lies with lack of formal structures, policies and strategies for teacher retention and dealing with unfavourable teaching conditions beginner teachers are exposed to. A growing desire for teachers to leave the profession is also aggravated by low morale, low levels of job satisfaction, unpleasant working conditions (Shalem & Hoadley, 2009) and high levels of job stress correlated with time pressures, educational changes, administrative problems, educational systems, professional distress and pupil misbehaviour (Peltzer et al. 2008).
Too few teachers are entering the teaching profession, too many teachers are leaving the profession, and too many teachers are inappropriately deployed in the teaching profession to meet the human resources needs of the country (SACE, 2006). The supply of education graduates in South Africa has become a matter of national concern. An analysis of graduate output revealed that one of the reasons for the drop has been the rationalisation and incorporation of colleges of education into existing universities and technikons. The decision to rationalise came as a result of underperformance in terms of turning out quality teachers (Chisholm, 2009). Despite these changes the quality has not improved, as shown by South Africa’s performance on the Trends in Mathematics and Science (National Center for Education Statistics, 2008), as well as poor Grade 12 pass rates. Therefore, there is still a need to identify obstacles to better education and to improve the quality of education (Ministerial Committee on Teacher Education, 2005).
A study investigating the relationship between Grade 12 learner preferences for study in higher education, Cosser (2009), revealed that graduations are to a large extent not related to both learner preferences at school and student enrolments in Higher Education (HE) in terms of numbers because many students fall out of the Higher Education system altogether and of study directions. Consequently, only a few students graduate in Mathematics and Science. A more concerted and intensive skills development in and for education is required in South Africa to attract youngsters to enter the teaching profession and retain high-quality teachers needed to enhance the quality of teaching and learning. The challenge of governments and education stakeholders emanate from limited budget frames. Teachers’ low wages and poor working conditions are identified as strategic areas in need of improvement in order to recruit new and retain experienced teachers in the profession (Nilsson, 2003).
The South African government, as part of the global economic community, is bound by educational strategies and also experience pressures such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and achieving Education For All (EFA) goals by 2015 whose aim is to reduce poverty; increase access, enhance equity and improve education quality (OECD, 2009). The success or failure of meeting this target in the developing countries depends largely on the quantity and quality of the teaching force (UNESCO, 2008/2009). According to a UNESCO estimate, more than 30 million new teachers will be needed to meet the goal of Education For All by 2015, approximately 7 568 000 required in Sub-Saharan Africa (Burnett, N. 2009). A situation arises where undue pressure is placed on the education budget, and also on the staffing in education.
Edwards and Spreen (2007) explain that the developing countries have to endure international pressure to universalize elementary education, whilst they suffer from an ever-increasing number of school children, the shortage of trained teachers, utilizing the services of foreign teachers, less qualified and untrained teachers appointed on a contract basis (Pandey, S. 2009), as well as serious financial constraints.
The major problems related to the educational crisis in South Africa include, maintaining educational quality while providing for rising enrolment but with relatively less money for education. Subsequently, the South African government adopted a business-friendly macro-economic policy known as the growth, employment and redistribution (GEAR) strategy in 1996, with emphasis on fiscal discipline and reduction in public expenditure (Jonathan Carter. 2008). The macroeconomic policy through the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), guides public-spending allocations determined by GDP fluctuations at national, provincial and local level. Education is the largest item in the provincial budgets, accounting for between 35 and 40% of spending. Among competing needs and priorities, the bulk of provincial education funds go to teachers salaries. Teacher allocation ratios therefore depend on budgetary availability.
Education principles cannot be effectively implemented without sufficiently well-informed human resources (staffing) to back them up. The current teacher shortage in South Africa is, therefore, compromising the delivery of quality education. Lack of sufficient human resources have tended to have a negative impact on the success of schools, and led to multigrade and multiphase teaching (Mncube & Harber, 2010).
The education sector in South Africa faces challenges about teachers and the strategies that were designed to address inappropriately qualified and under-qualified teachers, shortages of teachers in certain subjects and the many new teachers who could not find permanent posts. Accordingly, the prevailing policy response to these school staffing problems, has been an attempt to increase the quantity of new teachers supplied. The Funza Lushaka bursary scheme, has been established to help increase the supply and quality of teachers.
The Department anticipate that the supply of new teachers entering the system was increasing and that this upward trend would continue. However, the Department was concerned that many new teachers could not find permanent posts, as provincial departments of education kept employing inappropriately qualified and under-qualified teachers. An efficient human resource management and information system is required to deal with the filling of vacancies as part of teachers recruitment processes (Mayatula, 2008).
Lack of sufficient resources and poor co-ordination between national, provincial and local officials lead to differences of opinion regarding the feasibility of achieving some policy targets (Moss, 2006). Joint planning initiatives, uniform interpretation and prioritisation of policies among departments is required for horizontal integration to be successful (Maile, S. 2008). The need for new teachers in the coming decade is driven by projected learner enrolment and teacher retirement. An analyses of teacher supply and demand variables by policymakers can contribute substantially to the understanding of the overall dynamics of the teacher labour force variables and could provide a database with valuable information for addressing the teacher supply issue both at local and national levels (White & Fong, 2008).
The theoretical framework for analysing teacher supply and demand is drawn from the theory of education planning that the government is interested in spending money on education for the reason that, there is a public demand to be satisfied as well as a need of the economy for skilled and qualified manpower. In order to fully understand the causes and consequences of teacher supply and demand problems, it is necessary to analyse and examine the level of demand, potential supply as well as the extent of implementation of departmental strategies relating to teacher recruitment practices at provincial level. The assumption is that teacher recruitment problems in schools can be resolved through education planning and improved policy implementation (Ingersoll & Perda, 2009).
Teacher effectiveness is the primary influence on student achievement, and therefore government efforts to improve learner achievement should focus on a comprehensive human capital approach that includes a cost-neutral redistribution of funds to effective human capital investments in skills and knowledge that improve the quality of the education workforce. Despite extraordinary investments in public education employees, learner performance is still a challenge. New and sustainable investments in the way teachers are recruited, trained, and compensated are also required which are connected to larger economic initiatives within government. (Grossman, 2009).
Resolving teacher shortages requires a comprehensive, state-wide reform effort. Over a significant period, policymakers are unlikely to accrue additional resources to raise teachers’ salaries significantly, particularly given the vulnerable nature of the economy and inadequate budgets, but should rather implement policies that demonstrate the most potential for increasing the supply of teachers (Brownell, Hirsch & Seo, 2004). Education planning needs to be conceptualised in such a manner that it infuses the strategic plans of a department with the data that could enhance the quality of decisions to be taken. The planning must fit into the larger economic development planning of the state in relation to setting specific priorities and allocate state funds accordingly. Planning will help in correcting the deficiencies of the present in terms of the set goals and project more meaningful alternative futures that will ensure proper implementation and improve an educational system’s relevance and performance.
An analysis of the educational planning cycle describes four interrelated sub-systems that are of special importance in dealing essentially only with the macro-educational planning, the political, economic, social, and the educational sub-systems (Inbar, 1975). The political sub-system interacts operatively, by goal setting, policy making, priority determination, and resource allocation. Economically, education provides qualified manpower into the labour market, whilst at the same time meeting individual and social needs. An integrated approach towards human resources planning can be employed which is based on the state of macro-economic planning policies in South Africa.
The manpower planning approach involves collecting as much data on the factual variables, like pupil numbers by age, existing numbers of teachers by age, gender, sector and subject, as possible, then making the most appropriate use of this data to make assumptions about the existing set of relationships between variables – by extrapolating from, for example, recent wastage trends and retirement rates into the future. It must be stressed that such forecasts will only be relevant estimates of the future state of supply and demand if the assumptions used to generate the prediction are reliable. The excess demand/excess supply can be constructed using the most basic form of manpower planning model that relies on the existing stock of serving teachers as an estimate (Dolton 2006).
Teacher policy is central to the challenges of both expansion and quality of education in Africa. Provision of an effective teacher in every classroom requires a set of policies that ensure: an adequate supply of teachers; the ability to locate teachers where they are required; training systems that equip teachers with the required skills; and management and career structures that result in consistent, high-quality performance by teachers. Low-income countries in Africa must address these policy challenges in the context of severely constrained education budgets (Mulkeen, 2010). Significant improvements in teacher supply could be attained by better planning and regulation of teacher training, through forecasts of the number of newly trained teachers required, monitor teacher attrition on an annual basis, for each level and subject specialization, and adjust the entry to teacher training on annual basis in response to analysis of requirements and attrition (Mulkeen, 2010).
Defining teacher supply and demand
Total supply is equal to the number of teachers which includes teachers retained in the school from the previous year, new teachers from training institutions, foreign teachers who migrate to the area and former teachers re-entering the workforce. (Harris and Adkinson, 2003).
Total teacher demand is defined as the number of teachers required to adequately staff schools (Dolton 2006). It is defined as a function of student enrolments, government’s set learner-teacher ratio, class-size targets, teaching-load norms, and budgetary constraints. The total demand can be calculated from the number of teaching positions to staff classrooms, meaning, the number of teachers retained plus new demand. Where number of teachers retained equals number of teachers from previous year minus attrition (retirement, termination, death or disability, and sometimes mobility), and new demand equals number of additional teachers needed to staff schools - to cover changes in enrolment, vacancies due to attrition, and adjustments for resource and policy changes (Billingsly 2004 and Dolton 2006).
While enrolment of students from one grade to the next is usually easy to predict, determining the number of kindergarten entrants is a little more challenging, as it relies on live birth counts from the previous five years to make an estimate. Demographic factors, such as statistics of the percentage of the population which is of school-going age, as well as both emigration and immigration patterns determine the extent of educational provision to be made and the projected cost of such education. Teacher-pupil ratios are partly determined on the basis of knowledge of demographic factors and this in turn determines institutional design and affects curriculum, and methodology as well as the recruitment and training of teachers (Gorard, See, Smith & White, 2006).
The demand for teachers can be described as both quantitative and qualitative in terms of the number of teachers with specific qualifications, that are required to fill all teaching positions that have been created and funded at the district level (Arends, 2007). Positions that have been established and funded may be filled or vacant. Some researchers examining the imbalance between teacher supply and demand focus on single indicators such as the number of unprepared teachers (unqualified, under-qualified, teaching out of field, or serving as long-term substitutes) and regard these vacancies as part of unfilled vacancies. The rationale is that when education departments collectively find the pool of qualified applicants insufficient for the open teaching positions in a given field (demand exceed supply), the positions will either remain open (a vacancy) or school will staff the position with someone who is less than fully qualified (Dolton 2006; Mulkeen, 2010).
Research about geographic variations in the teacher labour market shows that labour markets tend to be local as teachers prefer to teach close to their hometown. Such findings suggest that national-level planning to expand the state’s overall teacher supply may not be adequate, but rather, teacher recruitment should be localized (White & Fong, 2008). Evaluating whether teacher supply and demand are, or are not, in balance and determining at what point teacher supply is, or is not, sufficient to meet the demand for teachers is integral to planning. In addition, production and recruitment alone do not address a major source of the problem, if they do not also address the issue of teacher retention (Ingersoll & Perda, 2009).
Indicators of teacher supply and demand
Indicators provides an indication of how to measure the performance of a national education system as a whole. They provide information on the human and financial resources invested in education, on how education and learning systems operate and evolve, and on the returns to educational investments. Information on the policy context and the interpretation of the data (OECD, 2009) are used to draw reports, as well as to monitor and evaluate the functioning of the education system (Sauvegeot & Dias Da Graça, 2007). An analysis of the quality, efficiency and costs provides information about learner: teacher ratios, qualifications of teachers, the rates of access to different levels, student flows, survival rate from one grade to another, repetition and drop-out rates, examination pass rates as well as resources required per learner. Educational expenditure as a component of GNP for both human and physical resources is seen as an economic investment in terms of educational attainment of skills and knowledge.
Indicators constitute the minimum of standardized information that should be available in the government for monitoring and planning purposes (UNESCO, 2000). It is critical for governments to acquire accurate statistics and information to guide education policies and programs, to be able to design sound programs and projects, and to monitor the progress of their education systems.
Projecting teacher supply and demand
Workforce planning is essential to ensure sufficient numbers of well-qualified teachers and leaders to meet the emerging needs of schools in the 21st century. It is therefore imperative to provide a detailed picture of the South African teacher workforce and to gather information to assist future planning on teacher supply. Longer-term approaches to workforce data and processes required for making supply and demand forecasts, which depends on comprehensive statistics that are reliable and regularly collected on a national and collaborative basis. A workforce planning model can be used to guide the analyses in the following areas: Workforce flow profiles; Teacher education profile; Assess adequacy of teacher supply and distribution; Estimate workforce supply and demand trends and; Projections and impact of future developments (Owen, Kos & McKenzie, 2008).
The broad priorities for teacher workforce data and planning are to ensure that, within a highly diversified and decentralised system of teacher preparation and employment, decision makers have the data they need to make the best possible decisions for their circumstances. The second priority is that there needs to be greater collaboration on workforce planning matters across the country because of the common issues affecting teachers no matter where they work. Data collection and analysis need to be seen to be informing actions, with the ultimate goal being improvements in the quality of education for learners and the benefit of society (Owen, Kos & McKenzie, 2008).
It becomes imperative that research be undertaken, and based on empirical data, create a sense of the seriousness of the supply and demand for teachers as part of education planning. Apart from providing planners with empirical evidence the findings may be able to reveal the gravity of the situation and whether the strategies designed has the potential to avert a crisis in teacher supply and demand. Projections of future teacher numbers can be done, using secondary data analysis of pre-existing data from databases. A model can be employed, for example, a linear progression analysis to examine major demand factors that vary at the national level such as changes in student enrolment and in teacher attrition. If the goal is prediction, or forecasting, linear regression can be used to fit a predictive model to an observed data set of y and x values. For example, teacher numbers can be projected based on learner enrolments, learner: educator ratios, number of teachers leaving and those joining, plus other variables that may be considered relevant.
Several assumptions can be made for the projections of student enrolment- and teacher retirement-driven demand based on current school conditions and the historical behaviour of teachers. If these assumptions are incorrect, the projections could under- or overstate demand. For teacher demand based on student enrolment growth, it is assumed that school districts will maintain their current pupil–teacher ratios. For teacher demand based on attrition, trends can be studied over the past five years and project into the future.
Information on teacher graduate output is essential in determining fit between teacher supply and demand. Data obtained from HEIs will also reveal the extent to which subject specialisation is linked to areas with severe teacher shortages identified in schools. The projections will provide an understanding to the educational policy-maker as to what type of policy measures will be needed to bring about politically desirable results.
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