Newsletter 217 - SA TALIS 2018 ( TEACHING & LEARNING INTERNATIONAL SURVEY) - PART 3
Who are today’s principals and teachers and the students in their classrooms?
- Teaching was the first-choice career for 49% of teachers in South Africa, which is the lowest share of teachers among all countries and economies participating in TALIS (OECD average 67%). In terms of why they joined the profession, at least 97% of teachers in South Africa cite the opportunity to influence children’s development or contribute to society as a major motivation. Fewer but still many teachers considered the economic characteristics and the working conditions of the profession as important motivating factors to join the profession, in particular the fact that teaching offered a steady career path (rated as important by 90% of teachers in South Africa, compared to 61% on average in the OECD).
- In South Africa, teachers are, on average, 43 years old, which is lower than the average age of teachers across OECD countries and economies participating in TALIS (44 years old). Furthermore, 32% of teachers in South Africa are aged 50 and above (OECD average 34%). This means that South Africa will have to renew about one out of three members of its teaching workforce over the next decade or so, under the assumption that all other parameters remain constant.
- In South Africa, principals are, on average, 51 years old, which is lower than the average age of principals across OECD countries and economies participating in TALIS (52 years old). Furthermore, 6% of principals in South Africa are aged 60 and above, compared to 20% on average across the OECD.
- Information about the gender distribution of the teacher and principal workforces makes it possible to gauge the degree of gender imbalance in the teaching profession and of gender disparities in the scope for promotion to leadership positions. In South Africa, only 22% of principals are women, compared to 60% of teachers. This can be benchmarked against the OECD averages of 47% of women among school leaders and 68% among teachers.
- In terms of classroom environments, relations between students and teachers are positive overall, with 85% of teachers in South Africa agreeing that students and teachers usually get on well with each other. And 82% of teachers report that they can rely on each other, which is lower than the average across OECD countries and economies participating in TALIS (87%).
- Among all countries and economies participating in TALIS, South Africa is the country where school safety incidents occur the most frequently and under several different forms, according to school leaders. One out of three principals (34%) report that acts of intimidation or bullying among their students occur at least weekly in their school, which is more than double the OECD average (14%). In addition, about one out of four principals report weekly incidents relative to the use or possession of drugs and/or alcohol at school (South Africa 27%; OECD average 1%) and vandalism and theft (South Africa 21%; OECD average 3%), which are comparatively very infrequent in other countries.
- In addition to frequent safety problems, school principals in South Africa report significant material resource shortages hindering the school’s capacity to provide quality instruction. The two most frequently reported shortages by school principals concern library materials (70% so report; OECD average 16%) and digital technology for instruction (65%; OECD average 25%). In addition, two other important resource shortages are reported quite frequently: 56% of principals report a shortage of physical infrastructure (OECD average 26%) and 60% report a shortage of support personnel (OECD average 33%).
- In South Africa, many schools are particularly diverse with regard to students’ linguistic background: 60% of teachers work in schools with more than 10% of students whose first language is not the language of instruction (OECD average 21%). In contrast, in South Africa, 11% of teachers work in schools where at least 10% of the students have a migrant background (OECD average 17%). At the same time, 91% of school leaders report that their teachers believe that children and young people should learn that people of different cultures have a lot in common (OECD average 95%).
- In addition, 71% of teachers work in schools with over 30% of socio-economically disadvantaged students, according to principals, which is a lot higher than the OECD average of 20%. This pattern signals high levels of poverty and/or inequality in the country.