There are many challenges being a teacher in South Africa today.

One of the major problems is that the curriculum changes all the time. Educators to be flexible, but it is strenuous. Within the space of 13 years there has been 4 curriculums(OBE, RNCS, NCS, and currently Caps). Training duration is too short (3-4 years vs 3 days). Some subject advisers are not even clear about these changes. Our directors and the department expect best outcomes whereas their ideas are theory vs implementation, age-cohort vs learning. This causes teachers to resign left, right and centre.

The workload is a huge problem for teachers which results in absenteeism, abscondment and the high death rate of teachers. The learner-teachers ratio has resulted in the high work-load and burdened the teachers. Paperwork through teacher files, including the three levels of planning, analysis of results per question per learner in language is a burden to teachers. Underqualified teachers minimize the balance allocation of subjects among teachers. Teachers in excess are reluctant to move from their comfort zones of their usual schools, failing the schools that need them. The contradicting policies of the department of education undermine the normal working conditions, where a principal is not allocated any subject just because she/he is a manager. Teachers end up being the victims of poor planning of policy makers.

A staff should be a group of people who work together to achieve a common goal. But sometimes working with people can pull you down. Colleagues skip classes everyday. They are late to arrive and first to leave school. They always complain and make no effort, and no matter how hard you try, they pull down. They say, “We’ll see how far she goes”. We feel that in order to achieve a common goal, we have to work together.

Some days being a teacher feels no more than never-ending people management – consistently monitoring behaviors so that all children can benefit from the lessons. There are many categories of naughtiness, sometimes its innocent and sometimes its insolent. Can you imagine, when one of us asked for homework books to be placed on their desk for inspection, we realized that some of them didn’t do their work, but managed to get the work from other learners that we’d already inspected and then presented it as their own work. In other cases some leave early before the school is out and others come late without permission. But that being said, it’s challenging to avoid lumping a child’s naughtiness at school into their character – and seeing them and their behavior as one and the same thing.

All learners are rewarding but some learners are more rewarding than others. Nothing satisfies more than seeing your learners reflecting all what they have been taught in a positive way. These learners always inspire us to do more. They keep us on our toes because they are forever curious. They are motivated and willing to do their best. This becomes evident when they write their own stories, essays and poems. They make us proud of ourselves. We feel that it is vital to reward these learners with praise, encouragement and support.

So yes, being a teacher in South Africa is not easy.. but it can be rewarding!