Why a Teachers Change Agent Network (Teachers CAN)?

Despite the country’s significant year-on-year investment in basic education, the learning crisis is South Africa is well documented. For example, as the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016 report revealed, 78% of South African Grade 4 children cannot read for meaning in any language; and out of every 100 children who begin Grade 1, 60 will make it to Grade 12, and only 40 will actually matriculate from that cohort.

As highlighted in the Human Factor’s launch issue many teachers feel demoralised and unsupported in the profession. They face several external factors that impact not only on their ability to teach effectively, but also on their wellbeing. Research from the Human Sciences Research Council also demonstrates that South Africa has a low retention of beginner (young) teachers, citing a lack of support for new teachers as one of the major contributing factors. 

In addition, teachers’ identity often sits between that of worker and professional. Often treated as workers on a policy level, teachers are frequently tasked with executing an inflexible curriculum for targeted outcomes. There is little freedom, however, for teachers to innovate when it comes to their teaching practice, or to challenge national decisions based on their experiences in the classroom.

When teachers feel unsupported and overlooked, it narrows their sense of agency – to the detriment of the entire education system. For quality education to occur in South Africa, teachers need to appreciate the central role they play in ensuring quality learning, feel empowered to navigate the education system and its structures, and have the professional freedom and responsibility to innovate. This is the only way we will address the systemic challenges that plague the post-apartheid education system.

Read more

  1. Read more about The Zero Dropout Campaign here. Published by The Zero Dropout Campaign, 2020.
  2. Read Schools urgently need young, committed teachers by Professor Michael le Cordeur here. Published by the Maverick Citizen, 2020.
  3. Read Chronicles of Young South African Teachers (The Interview Series) here. Published by News 24, 2016.