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The South-African education department hires celebrities from the country to teach learners/students online via the digital extra lesson platform instead of qualified teachers despite the high rate of unemployed educators in the country.
Everyone concerned should ask themselves two questions
1. Why do teachers go to to study for four years in the profession?
2. What was the purpose of dividing the education system in South Africa into four phases?
Teachers go to study so that they can be equipped with different pedagogies of delivering content in the level of different learners. Those pedagogies include the ability to identify learner diversity so that a teacher can cater for the educational needs of all the learners that they teach.
Phase Specialization means a teacher is equipped with pedagogies/knowledge to teach a certain group of learners. The teacher caters for their different learning styles and ensures that all learners come out of the classroom having gained something.
Due to the high enrolment of education students (BEd) in different institutions, the country is experiencing a high influx of teachers so the rate of unemployed educators in the country increases annually.
The national lockdown as a result of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) has led to teachers and learners staying home for their safety and that has put a lot of pressure on the education department to seek means to ensure that teaching and learning continues even though everyone is at home and not at their various educational institutions.
With that pressure, they have come up with an initiative to try and bridge the gap government have started a programme for online literacy where learners are read to and taught online and on TV, they have hired celebrities to teach learners on digital extra lessons through the different technological platforms and this is actually a great initiative.
However it has caused a stir in the country, teachers are confused and petrified as to why the education department chose to hire celebrities leaving out unemployed qualified teachers.
Teachers are asking the question why they went to university/college to study for the qualification if just about anyone can teach.
They say this is an insult to them as teachers and to the profession of teaching itself, how can they be expected to stand in front of learners and teach again if they are not trusted enough to teach online.
These celebrities not only do they lack the professional qualification but also do not possess the South African Council for Educators (SACE) license to teach; moreover, they lack the experience that is required by a teacher.
Their level of content knowledge is also highly questionable.
This raises the concern that learners are going to go back to school with misconceptions. That will put more pressure on teachers when they have to correct those misconceptions as well as catch up on the various academic programmes.
Teachers feel as though the department is setting them up for failure since they are the ones who are going to account for the pass rate at the end of the academic year.
More teachers gave their complaints regarding this injustice done to them by the Department of Education; it seems that the department itself has no faith in the profession so how can others have faith in it if the higher stakes do not have faith in our teachers?
“It’s infuriating that the department thinks that we are not worthy for the job yet the celebrities are, while there are people who are willing to do it for free.” commented one of the teachers, which raises the question that if there are teachers who are willing to work for free then why are they not given a chance when an opportunity arises?
Why is the department of education not considering them first because they are putting in the effort?
Another teacher stated that, “if e-learning continues then that means teachers are going to suffer.” This is true because now this online teaching and learning is treated as a show that needs presenters and teacher are not presenters of content. They are not deliverers of content. They are TEACHERS of content.
There is far more going on in the teaching process than just delivering content, the teacher went on to add that the government is “undermining our profession, undermining us as teachers. Moreover, if celebrities can teach that means we just want our learners to be entertained not educated.”
It is not enough that the teaching profession is the least paid profession in the country, teachers feel more insulted and degraded, and they feel that the department of education and SACE does not have their best interest at heart since they are not protecting this profession. If online teaching can replace classroom contact and if celebrities can replace teachers then the future of the teaching profession in this country is at risk.
Teaching is more about learners than it is about teachers and all the other stakeholders involved.
This programme favors some and not others, those learners who do not have access to the internet at home will not be able to access these lessons and those who do not own T.V sets at home will also be disadvantaged.
Solutions Provided by South-African Teachers
Not only are they (teachers) complaining to the Department of Education about this worrisome issue, they are also providing alternative solutions that could have been taken to make the best out of the covid-19 pandemic that’s kept educators and students at home.
“It would have wise to even call student teachers probably in their third or fourth year,” said an academic.
This could have been the last resort since the academic stated prior, that there is no shortage of teachers in the country in fact the is a high rate of unemployed teachers in South Africa.
The academic went further to suggest that instead of paying these unqualified people to teach, why not invest the money in ensuring that teachers can reach their learners since they are the ones who know how their learners learn and where they are in the curriculum.
In conclusion, teachers feel insulted by the department of education and they feel as though the department is making a mockery of their qualifications. They call on the South African Council of Educators (SACE) and teachers’ unions to intervene to secure the future of the profession in this country.