Newly qualified teachers whose studies have been financed by the Education Department will be required to teach at remote schools for up to four years in an attempt to help schools most in need.
At least 4000 of the 10,806 first-year students who registered for teaching degrees this year received a state bursary. They will now be compelled to complete between one and four years at designated schools, depending on the number of years of study the government pays for.
Education Minister Naledi Pandor confirmed that her department would, in consultation with provinces, assign state-funded teachers to "the neediest of schools".
Don Pasquallie, deputy general-secretary of EI affiliate the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union, while welcoming the fact that resources at rural schools should improve as a result of the initiative, cautioned that:
"[Provincial education departments] are already struggling to attract teachers into the profession with the bursary scheme. If a prospective student knows he will have to teach in a remote area, there might be some resistance."
Basil Manuel, vice-president of EI affiliate the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA, said the initiative could ease the “crisis” of attracting suitably qualified teachers to teach the languages, maths, science and foundation-phase.