World

SA ‘needs new breed of teachers to address education challenges’

South Africa needs a new breed of teachers to meet the challenges of educating our youth in the 21st century – and it starts with giving them the expertise they need to ensure better educational outcomes, says private school network Spark schools.

World Teachers’ Day.

The 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) study found that eight out of every ten Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning – and changing this will demand teachers who are better prepared, and better equipped to incorporate technology with modern teaching practices.

Spark schools chief of schools, Bailey Thomson Blake said one of the biggest crises facing South African education was the low levels of literacy.

Today, the world celebrates the role that teachers play in the lives of children and this year’s theme is ‘Young Teachers: The future of the Profession’. 

“We believe this is a critical part of creating an educational system that will create literate, high-achieving young people,” said Thomson.

“We have to attract promising young teachers to the profession – especially male teachers – and give them ongoing professional development to provide quality education to all young South Africans,” Thomson explained. 

According to the UN, one of the main challenges to the right of education worldwide is a shortage of trained and qualified teachers. Sub-Saharan Africa faces the most urgent need in filling the teacher gap: an estimated 17 million teachers are needed, with 70% of countries facing an acute shortage at the primary level and 90% at the secondary level.

However, having qualified and experienced teachers alone does not address the challenge of delivering an effective education.

“Reading and writing have to make up a large proportion of a student’s daily timetable, especially in the foundation phase. Instruction in reading comprehension cannot begin only after a child reaches phonetic competency and fluency; it must be integrated from the outset,” said Thomson.

STAFF REPORTER