Teaching Profession Under Threat

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Long-term projections by UNESCO indicate a bleak future for education and teaching as a profession world-wide. In a recently released report, the United Nations organization’s expertly predicts that sub-Saharan Africa will need another 1,6 million teachers in classrooms by 2015 to provide every child with primary education. “On the surface it seems that the teaching profession in Namibia has a greater future that in neighbouring SADC states based on the fact that the planning of the education system is presently considered to be a government priority. However, the danger exists that if the existing training institutions do not enlarge their yearly intakes of student teachers, Namibia will suffer the same fate as other countries,” said Deputy President of the Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) Chanville Mackrill, when contacted for comment by New Era. The report, titled “Teachers and Educational Quality: Monitoring Global Needs”, was drawn up by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics to highlight trends in teacher quantity and quality. The report explores the policy implications of the bridge-gap between developed and developing countries, comparing the strengths and shortcomings of recruitment and deployment as well as working conditions around the world. “Presently, an additional 6 000 teachers are needed to fill the vacuum in 2007 alone, as was predicted some time ago. This is needed if the population growth of basically 2% per annum is taken into consideration. Collectively, the four main teacher training institutions do not deliver enough to keep track with the growing demand,” said Mackrill. In his view, the Government should accredit more institutions for teacher training purposes to provide in the need of the country’s educational needs. “Then only will the ration of teachers come in line for teachers’ needs in the next ten years. Presently, the four training colleges yearly pushes about 1 200 qualified teachers into the job market. This is not enough in the short or long term, if education and the teaching profession are to survive and be effective. It is imperative that college and university student intakes be expanded,” the deputy president of TUN said. According to the UNESCO report, more than 18 million teachers need to be recruited worldwide. “The greatest challenge lies in sub-Saharan Africa, which will need to expand its teaching force by 68% before 2015. However, some countries with declining school-age populations will actually need fewer teachers. This provides an opportunity to improve education quality by investing more resources per teacher and learner,” the report states. The report says that sub-Saharan countries are severely affected by HIV/AIDS. “The epidemic is reducing the size of school-age populations, while exacerbating attrition rates among teachers. Countries in the greatest need of teachers also face severe fiscal constraints. Many have no choice but to rely on ‘para-teachers’, who generally have lower qualifications than their civil servant counterparts, but that can respond to a country’s urgent educational needs,” said the report that also warns that Government can seriously damage the general status of the teaching profession if they continue with a system of ‘para-teachers.’ The UNESCO report was brought out to remind governments to keep their promises to achieve Education for All by 2015.

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