Foreword by Minister Angie Motshekga (DBE)

The identity of a 21st century teacher is rapidly changing. Teachers are faced with a pressing challenge of preparing learners adequately with skills and knowledge for them to be active andcontributing citizens of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. In the South African context, issues of adevelopmental state, scarcity of skills, and fiscal constraints contemporise an identity andpractice, yet require innovative, high quality, and advanced knowledge workers, who are capableof mediating teaching, and stimulating learning within changing environments.

In this regard,learners must look up to their teachers and see them as active lifelong learners.I am pleased that we have participated in the 2018 Teaching and Learning International Survey(TALIS). As the only participant from the African Continent in this global study coordinated bythe Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), we have once againpositioned our country as a learning system, eager and willing to measure our capabilities among the best in the world.We do so, knowing that many of the countries of the world, have far more robust and advanced education settings; but we are committed towards building an excellent education system that stands up to high international benchmarks and standards.In this regard,

TALIS aims to provide valid, timely and comparable information to help countries review and definepolicies for developing a high-quality teaching profession. The study provides an opportunity for teachers and schoolleaders to provide input into educational policy analysis and development in key areas. In South Africa, 2 046 lower secondary teachers and 169 principals completed the TALIS questionnaires.Teachers are frontline actors in improving learning outcomes. While we recognise and appreciate that we are a “system on the rise”, we are cognisant of work that needs to be done in addressing early learning gaps on reading comprehension and functional numeracy. Equipping the teacher with adequate knowledge and skills to deal comprehensively with these foundational hallmarks of learning must become the priority of an integrated teacher recruitment and retainment strategyfrom initial teacher education to continuous professional development. TALIS reminds us that many of our teachershave a high self-efficacy and are motivated by an intrinsic need to influence learners’ development and contribute to society.

Education policy must therefore encourage teacher growth, inspire and enable innovation, identify and sharebest practice to reduce perceived gaps between professional vison and pedagogical practice.Given the important role our teachers and principals play, our education systems must take greater interest in the professional views of teachers as experts on teaching and learning. Surveys, such as TALIS, which foreground the teacher perspective on their working conditions, professional knowledge, instructional quality, and the changinglandscape will strengthen our efforts to re-engineer the education system to achieve the best possible outcomes.

“Where teachers are not engaged in the design or change, they will rarely help with the implementation of change” (OECD, 2019).

In this Country Note critical information is provided on the socio-demographics of our teaching profession, their instructional practices of teachers, their levels of preparation and development, teaching in a diverse classroom, andteaching in a multicultural or multilingual settings. Teacher interests, beliefs, motivations and fears often go under theradar, and if not considered, can lead to tensions and policy discord, which can undermine education reform and the best intentions of our government.“Where teachers are not engaged in the design or change, they will rarely help with the implementation of change” (OECD, 2019).

Programmatic determinations on the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS), Quality Learning and TeachingCampaign (QLTC), Professional Learning Communities, and the development of professional standards for teachers and principals are an effort to build a shared understanding and collective ownership. Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong LearnersHow are teachers and school leaders prepared for their roles?

As we are moving swiftly into the 6th Administration, we want to realise the elements of a ‘new dawn’ for teachers underpinned by a merger of collaboration and accountability within an enabling policy climate. The findings of TALIS, as articulated in this Report, must be shared widely in the Basic Education Sector. I therefore
invite all education stakeholders and the broader South African nation to view the results with a sense of ownership and involvement to support the projects, programmes and efforts of the Department of Basic Education, in our mission to deliver quality basic education to all learners.

“Teachers are our greatest public servants; they spend their lives educating our young people and shaping our nation for tomorrow” (Solomon Ortiz)

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