We can’t wait for 25 years for good teach­ers

CityPress - - Voices -

The SA Coun­cil of Ed­u­ca­tors (Sace), the pro­fes­sional body for teach­ers, told City Press this week about its plans to pro­fes­sion­alise the oc­cu­pa­tion.

The mea­sures the or­gan­i­sa­tion is de­vis­ing in­clude pro­vi­sion­ally reg­is­ter­ing teach­ers fresh out of univer­sity and com­plet­ing their reg­is­tra­tion once they have proven they can do the job in the class­room.

Sace also plans to have dif­fer­ent lev­els of reg­is­tra­tion for ca­reer teach­ers, who will be pro­moted to top posts, in­clud­ing prin­ci­pal and head of depart­ment, only if they have proven they can do the job for which they are ap­ply­ing.

This is fan­tas­tic news and moves to pro­fes­sion­alise the teach­ing oc­cu­pa­tion and im­prove the stan­dards of teach­ing in the coun­try are long over­due. How­ever, it comes with a catch. Sace CEO Rej Bri­jraj told City Press they would con­sider im­ple­ment­ing com­pe­tence tests for es­tab­lished teach­ers, but th­ese had long been re­sisted by the SA Demo­cratic Teach­ers’ Union, which has con­sis­tently re­sisted at­tempts to weed bad teach­ers out of class­rooms.

For those teach­ers al­ready in the sys­tem, Sace is pi­lot­ing a pro­gramme aimed at en­cour­ag­ing them to de­velop them­selves pro­fes­sion­ally, and they will have to earn 150 points over a three-year pe­riod to main­tain their reg­is­tra­tion.

How­ever, teach­ers can score points not just by at­tend­ing train­ing pro­grammes to im­prove their teach­ing, but by at­tend­ing staff meet­ings at their schools – some­thing that should, in all fair­ness, be a ba­sic re­quire­ment. They can also score points by at­tend­ing union meet­ings – where im­prov­ing teacher qual­ity may not nec­es­sar­ily be top of the agenda.

Bri­jraj said it would “take a gen­er­a­tion” (that’s about 25 years) to im­ple­ment the pro­posed re­forms. But con­sid­er­ing how shock­ing pock­ets of our school sys­tem is, do we re­ally have that long to wait?

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