Expected Increase In Teacher Retirement

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According to research, nearly half of the country’s publicly employed teachers are older than 50, which means that there will be a large number of teachers retiring between now and 2030. Here is what Professor Nick Spaull had to say.


Professor Nick Spaull, from the Research on Social Economic Policy Group, stated that they are concerned that 49% of public school teachers are over the age of 50 and are going to retire in the next 10 years and whether the current policies that are in place are proactive enough to handle this. Spaull explained that although the country is producing the right number of teachers at the moment, the government is not hiring enough of these teachers to maintain class sizes at their current levels.

Since the government is not hiring enough teachers, it causes class sizes to increase and unless provinces begin to increase the number of teachers they hire the problem will become worse. From 2012 to 2021 the learner-to-teacher ratio has increased.

In 2012, the average learner-to-teacher ratio was 27 learners to one teacher. In 2021, the average learner-to-teacher ratio was 30 learners to one teacher.

However, in rural areas, these numbers are a lot higher. There may be about 40 to 60 learners to one teacher.


A number of different studies have shown that in terms of the number of teachers that need to be produced depends on a number of different assumptions. If the government only wants to replace the teachers that are retiring then 25 000 teachers will need to be hired per year, which is the current number of teachers being produced per year.

However, it will need to be increased to 52 000 teachers per year by 2030 if they wanted to maintain the class sizes and current learner-to-teacher ratio. The government also needs to consider the following factors, there will be more learners entering the system due to population increases, and more learners reaching Grade 12 due to lower dropout rates.

These factors will require the number of teachers that would need to be hired to 56 000 teachers per year. Currently, universities are producing approximately 28 000 teachers per year.


Even though universities are producing enough teachers, provinces are only hiring about 50% of these teachers. The Research on Social Economic Policy Group is wondering why this is taking place.

Spaull believes that this will be a problem for the rural provinces such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, and rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal because many teachers prefer to teach in urban areas. In order to get more teachers in these rural areas, the department will need to find ways to motivate graduates to move to these rural areas and provide those learners with good quality education.

In an effort to improve the quality of education provided to learners, the Research on Social Economic Policy Group has started a training programme to provide educators with the necessary skills and experience. This training programme allows students to shadow qualified teachers and gain experience.


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