Addressing The Need For More Qualified Teachers In The 21st Century

The world is off-track in meeting education goals by 2030 and South Africa has huge challenges to overcome, a leading Durban education expert has observed.

At least 263 million children and youth are out of school worldwide, according to Professor Renuka Vithal, MANCOSA Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) Programme Director.

Professor Vithal stated that more than half of the planet’s children and adolescents or 617 million young people do not achieve minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics. According to Vithal, a leading cause for illiteracy, is the global shortage of qualified teachers. Alarmingly, in terms of the pupil:teacher ratio, the bottom 10 countries were located in Africa and had a pupil:teacher ratio of 57. The top 10 countries however, were located in Europe and it was found that their ratio was much lower whereby only nine pupils shared one teacher.

“Notably, countries in sub-Saharan Africa have a clear decline in trained teachers in schools as well as in training colleges. Whilst there may be several reasons for this phenomenon, intervention from educational leaders and experts is necessary. Institutions of higher learning such as MANCOSA have an important role to play in filling the needs gap. The situation in South Africa is critical with 30% of teaching posts remaining unfilled,” Professor Vithal said.

Hence the need to train approximately 69 million teachers globally which requires “many more schools of education – be they public or private – to better equip teachers for a changing world,” added Vithal.

She said teachers are the key to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals for education by 2030.

“It is essential for us in the field of education to ensure that teacher training is prioritised. This requires urgent attention because the equity gap in education is exacerbated by the shortage and uneven distribution of professionally-trained teachers.

“As teachers are a fundamental condition for guaranteeing quality education and academic excellence, they should be properly trained, recruited and remunerated as soon as possible to mitigate the exodus of teachers.”

Professor Vithal was commenting in the wake of the launch of MANCOSA’s School of Education, a game-changing teacher training institution which will produce educators who are agile and responsive to providing a compelling learning experience in any environment.

The School of Education aims to revolutionise traditional classroom teaching in a complex school education landscape through bespoke teacher training programmes.

Professor Zaheer Hamid, Academic Director at MANCOSA, said the confluence of new technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution encourages institutions of higher learning to upskill, invigorate and enhance teacher education to be more relevant in the 21st century.

Mindful of the inherent challenges of funding, resources; professional development structures; and lack of technology in education and training, MANCOSA’s School of Education is geared to enable quality teaching and learning through a suite of programmes to create demand for sought-after skills in a highly competitive job market.

Professor Hamid said: “The quality of teaching is inextricably linked to the country’s ability to succeed in advancing our economy at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Thus entrepreneurial knowledge and skills remain a critical aspect of teacher training and development.

“Equipping teachers with educational management and leadership skills ensures that they thrive as educational managers and enjoy a more progressive and fulfilling teaching career.”

Innovative, compelling and interactive methods of teaching in the form of simulated and “live in” classrooms – the iTeach Lab – will expose teachers to various environments, situations and contexts. The iTeach Lab impresses on producing a hyperfunctioning teacher with the mental fortitude to succeed in diverse teaching environments.

MANCOSA is a member of the Honoris United Universities network, the first pan-African private higher education network covering several countries on the continent.

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