The recruitment and training of teachers in the critical subjects is set to improve, thanks to an initiative by the Department of Basic Education in partnership with the Independent Schools Association of South Africa (ISASA) and Investec.
Through this partnership, the department has developed and adopted the "Teacher Assist Approach" programme, which it will apply when recruiting and placing new teachers in priority subjects such as Mathematics, Science and English.
The department, ISASA and Investec on Friday officially launched this historic public-private partnership to train 200 teacher interns in the priority subjects.
The teachers will be trained at independent schools from 2013 - 2020.
The partners will utilise combined resources to produce quality teachers in Maths, Science and English. The department will fund the full study and subsistence costs of the teachers for the duration of their training through the Funza Lushaka bursary programme.
ISASA schools will be used to host, train and mentor the interns. The body will also manage the programme which entails recruiting, selecting and placing prospective teachers, and supporting them through the duration of their internship, which will take three to four years.
Investec, with a track record of supporting Maths and Science education at school level, has extended its focus to the critical need to develop quality teachers in these key subjects.
Its role will also see them provide funding for enrichment activities such as the orientation of the new recruits, academic support as well as hosting mentoring meetings.
Speaking at the launch on Friday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga noted that as stated in education strategy, Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025, the department was working hard to improve the supply of young and qualified educators, particularly for gateway subjects.
"The Funza Lushaka bursary programme is one way of [achieving this], hence our support for this initiative. This will help us in placing the just over 2 000 new graduates Funza Lushaka has produced over the last three years and in tackling current teacher shortages," Motshekga said.
The day-to-day assistance of the recruits will be provided by ISASA, including the continuous assessment of the recruits, to ensure that those who require additional support are identified and assisted accordingly.
ISASA will manage aspects of the teachers' development, with the support of the department and Investec. It is hoped that the training model will be the catalyst towards grooming the next breed of teachers.
"The programme aims to produce confident, competent teachers, with a strong commitment to Maths and Science teaching as their lifelong profession. Clearly, the multiplier effect of having proficient teachers in these priority subjects is a significant contribution to the teaching profession.
"Eligible candidates are school-leavers with university entrance passes and high quality marks in Maths, Science or English. Those with university credits or degrees in these subjects will also be among those receiving bursaries to study for a teaching degree," said Motshekga.
Investec representative Setlogane Manchidi encouraged interns present at the launch to do research, saying that " he who doesn't research, has nothing to teach".
"Whatever you teach our children and allow them to discover about themselves will be the foundation upon their future," Manchidi told the interns.
Transnet Foundation Senior Manager: Education, Theresa Vivian Moila, said while the teaching profession was undervalued, it wasn't all "doom and gloom" and challenged the interns to restore the excellence within teaching.
"Be at the frontline to give learners requisition knowledge. You have to open doors of opportunities for learners and restore the love of learning. Become the village that raises children. Go out and conquer the world and touch the lives of learners and communities in a positive way," said Moila.
One of the interns, Nomthandazo Dube (21) from Tembisa, who feels she was "born a teacher", said she joined the programme to gain practical experience.
"I want to find my feet first before going out to teach. My goal is to further my studies and do Education Psychology because it gives you the tools you need as an educator to understand the learner behaviour and how to respond in different situations.
Applicants for 2014, especially graduates wishing to access bursarie