Teachers Change Agent Network (Teachers CAN) is a DG Murray Trust (DGMT) initiative with a vision of seeing
young teachers play a vital role in the education ecosystem. The network was established from the understanding that young teachers often enter the profession with high levels of motivation to enable every child in South Africa to reach their full potential. However, they work in challenging environments, where classrooms mirror South Africa’s broader inequalities.
The network was launched in 2020 and is built on the following elements:
- A strong manifesto to drive a common purpose and national agenda
- A fellowship for young teachers who are change agents
- A broader network of young teachers and their allies who believe in and actively work towards ensuring that teachers are able to live out the Teachers CAN manifesto.
This study sets out to explore how young teachers in South Africa understand their experiences, issues, challenges, and aspirations relative to each of the points in the Teachers CAN manifesto. Its ultimate aim is to bring together role players in the education sector to create a common understanding and base from which to work together with young teachers and co-create a new reality where teachers’ experiences are valued in building innovative solutions for the education crisis in South Africa. The study engaged with 436 young teachers through a combination of online and telephonic surveys as well as conducting qualitative interviews and focus group discussions with 75 young teachers. The five-point manifesto sets out a set of ideal “states of mind” and relationships that young teachers should be able to experience and achieve within their profession. In addition to summarising findings relative to each of the manifesto points, we present insights on context factors that inform the decisions and experiences of young teachers, which underpin and precede the manifesto, such as motivation and working environment.