At a time when the country is in dire need of more teachers, the popular teacher training programme, Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), is being discontinued at some higher education institutions.

The good news is that the PGCE is still being offered at Mancosa private higher education institution in KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Town and Gauteng, and furthermore, the qualification is being recognised nationally.

In November 2019, a UNESCO report which examined the number of teachers required per country, declared that sub-Saharan Africa needs an additional 6,3-million teachers if it is to attain universal primary education by 2030.

The Centre for Development and Enterprise predicted that South Africa would need to have 456 000 teachers by 2025 to offer quality education. According to the Department of Basic Education, South Africa’s public education system currently has 410 000 teachers.

Therefore, the UNESCO report found that South Africa does not graduate an adequate number of teachers to meet the supply and demand within education.

Currently, the country’s initial teacher institutions collectively graduate 15 000 new teachers per year. This is below the 25 000-mark required to maintain an effective teacher-pupil ratio.

Rathna Pather, head of the School of Education at Mancosa, says the lacklustre matric pass rate in 2019, especially with the mathematics pass rate slipping from 58% in 2018 to 54,6% last year, pointed to the real need for more and well-trained teachers.

“Teachers are regarded as the essential drivers of a sound education system. If South Africa hopes to be in a position to provide quality education that will meet the country’s social and economic ills, then we need to recruit, retain and train a greater number of suitably qualified teachers,” she says.

Cleo Karrim, School of Education programme coordinator at Mancosa, says with the termination of the PGCE at some higher education institutions, Mancosa is well-positioned as a distance learning institution, to continue producing teachers.

“Our 18-month PGCE (Further Education and Training Teaching) qualification aims to develop innovative teachers who will meet the needs of a new generation of students.

“The minimum admission requirement is a completed bachelor’s degree. For many people who may have already attained a degree and remain unemployed, and for those who wish to make a career change or others who wish to acquire a teaching qualification, the PGCE opens a new door.

“The changing needs of the global market, demands that institutions develop and prepare young people to meet the challenges of the employment market. Education lies at the heart of transformation not only in South Africa, but in all developing countries.

“Tertiary institutions have the huge responsibility of addressing the inequalities of the past. It is important that focused work happens in the education sphere, in teacher training in particular,” says Karrim.

She adds that teachers have a crucial role to play in building a society that acknowledges and respects every child’s right to be developed and inspired to his/her full potential. They have the opportunity to promote and build social cohesion, with the classroom context being an ideal incubator.