Sesethu Kunini | 09 November 2017
Nowadays we find some teachers at schools who no longer have the fire to teach within them. Yes, when they did an education course and qualified to be teachers, they were driven by the passion but now it is no longer burning because of several reasons like age (being old), exhaustion, the regular change of the curriculum or problems in the school. Passion can be restored but my problem with these kind of teachers is that you find that they no longer take heed of the learners’ needs inside or outside of the classroom. I remember in my 4-6th grades, I had this teacher who was old but never wanted to retire, she was so lazy that she would only tell us to turn on a certain page in the text book so that we can look for ourselves, she would the past year’s notes and ask one of us to copy the notes on the chalkboard and she would sometimes miss her class periods. I cannot confidently stand today and say learning happened in that class, the worst thing about it is that it was mathematics as a result most of us ended up having a negative attitude towards the subject because the teacher was never there to assist us or give us reasons to love the subject but she did give us all the reasons to hate it.
These teachers should give the younger teachers chance, take their pensions and maybe mentor the younger teachers and guide them instead of growing old in the class.
“I am going to do an education course now because there are many job opportunities as compared to the course I studied.” We hear this statement every day. Many are the teachers who go into teaching with such reasons, they run for this department for all the wrong reasons. If you just want to teach because it is the only job available and it is not because you want to or you have the qualities to, then you are in the wrong place. You find most teachers like this in schools and because of their reasons they do not do what they are supposed to do. Instead, they complain about the work load that they have, the learners who are mischievous and many other unimportant issues in the school. This kills the leaners, affects our education in a tremendously negative way as these teachers do not fulfil the purpose of being a teacher.
Such need to think about the role of education in our lives and that if they are not going to make an impact then there will be a dim future for our country because we are hoping that teachers could shape learners to become tomorrow’s leaders. They should stop thinking only about themselves [and salaries] but think about the learners as well.
“The government has this system of age cohort, saying that if the learner repeats the grade twice, they must be promoted to the next grade, even if they were not doing what they were [expected] to do in the previous and are not deserving. And for this we cannot blame the teachers as it is the call that was made by the government,” says Miss Gaiza from Cebelihle Primary. She continues by saying that the teachers focus on certain learners, those learners that are doing well and the reason for that is because their classes are overcrowded, classes are of more than 35 learners whereas they should be 35 exactly in each class, so they cannot focus on all learners or pay attention to them all, and they lack resources and have a lot of work like admin, marking, recording marks and the everyday portfolios required from them. So, these are some of the issues teachers face and they affect not on only the primary but also the higher education.
The government need to pay real attention to these issues as they affect the teachers, learners, schools, the pass rate and the South African Education. Learners need to remain in the same class until they pass to the next. If they are always promoted, when they reach high school they will be stuck there and the matric pass rate obviously will be low as it already is, especially in our province – the Eastern Cape. It is reasons like the above mentioned that cause this. The government should do something or else we won’t have any future leaders.
You find in other schools that there are teachers who never did a degree in education or even a short course if there is one filling in for the teachers who maybe retired, on maternity or left the school because the government is not bringing in the replacement for quite some time, the school decides to hire someone from the community who does not even have the qualifications to become a teacher. What an insult! This usually happens in rural areas and in townships. What impact do you think these “teachers” can have on the learners’ learning and lives?
A teacher is also a parent, a social worker and a psychologist in the school as they deal with different learners from various backgrounds with different problems so the teacher must know when the learner is bothered by something and they are to solve those problems together with the learner, so now my question is that how can that one teacher be expected to be a parent, a social worker and a psychologist if s/he has never been trained to be such? I say teachers should have even if it’s training programmes; weekly or in a term, but programmes to develop and deal with them and their issues are needed.
I believe that teaching is about attending to the experiences, needs and feelings of learners, making specific interventions to help them learn. And learning is acquiring the skills to apply to your needs, feelings and solving problems independently. Both teaching and learning are the processes that require discipline, commitment and suitable environments for them to take place. The teachers and the learners must work together for these processes to be a success.
The problems I have addressed above are really a barricade to teaching and learning and in this article, I am focusing on the teachers as we never really pay attention to them but we just blame them for the bad results without looking at what their issues are.
I think the government should be addressing these issues as it has the power to change what is going on in our education system. We may raise our concerns about how bad the education system is but if the government does nothing about our concerns, we are in trouble.
If in 5 years’ time these issues could be dealt with, learners would able to solve problems and think outside the box. The Matric pass rate would be higher, the teachers would enjoy doing their jobs and would do it excellently. The quality of education would be made better and we would find learners who have zeal for education as they know they will be equipped to be better and independent thinkers, have their potentials unlocked and be the change needed by our country. I remember my high school English teacher would say, “I am here and I am getting my salary because of you, so let me help you.” We need that breed of teachers, who understand their purpose in schools [and society]. So, it would be in everyone’s best interest to work towards a better education by looking deep into issues within the schools from all the teaching and learning involved parties and work together to come up with solutions.