Vision of TEACH South Africa
The vision of TEACH South Africa is two-fold. In the short-term, our goal is to recruit, train and support the most talented recent university graduates to commit to teaching for a minimum of two years in some of South Africa’s most disadvantaged schools. In the long-term, TEACH Ambassadors will form an alumni movement, informed by their experience in the classroom, which will fight for educational equality for learners all over South Africa by using their influence in whatever sector they decide to work in.
Background of TEACH South Africa
TEACH South Africa was started by the South African business community in direct response to finding ways to improve South Africa’s economy. After years of researching educational initiatives around the world, the TEACH South Africa founding members decided to be part of the solution by placing highly skilled and motivated recent university graduates in the classroom. This will not only benefit the learners and help close the achievement gap that persists in South Africa, but also prepares a generation of learners to be better prepared for university and the workplace.
South Africa’s Educational Crisis
Fourteen years after the end of apartheid, educational inequality persists and overall performance is unacceptably low.
Recent tests indicating the extent of the challenges before us include:
- The latest Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), in which South Africa’s score was the lowest (IEA, 2006)
- Trends in International Mathematics and Science study (TIMSS): In 1994/95 South Africa scored 354 out of a possible 800, and in 1998 the country performed the worst out of 39 countries, scoring 275. In 2007, the Department of Education declined to participate in the study.
- The Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SAQMEQ) studies: In the SACMEQII evaluation between 2000 and 2003 of Grade 6 mathematics and reading abilities, learners scored below the pre-determined mean for both.
Nationally (PMG, 2008):
- The pass rate has decreased annually from 73.2% in 2003 to its current 62.5%.
- The National Achievement rate per quintile showed that the less resourced a school was, the poorer they performed. Quintile 1 schools, which were the poorest schools, only achieved an average pass rate of 50.10% while quintile 5 schools received an average pass rate of 84.94%.
The evident inequality in capabilities and functionings of South African learners overall becomes all the more striking and concerning when their attainment is viewed according to demographics such as race and socio-economic status. Van der Berg’s (2005, cited by Soudien, 2007) analysis of the SACMEQII data finds that “the extent of inequality in educational outcomes between South African schools is far greater than worldwide. A selection of almost 50 such national surveys around the world reveals a median value of 0.25 for the intra-class correlation coefficient for reading, whereas South Africa’s value is 0.70.’’
TEACH South Africa Can Make A Positive Impact
There is strong evidence that shows poor learners, with the same educational opportunities as wealthy learners, can achieve at the same level. High performing schools across the country serving poor populations are matriculating a higher percent of learners than some wealthy schools.
Furthermore, organizations in the UK and the US similar to TEACH South Africa have proven that teachers they train and recruit can lead their learners to achieve at high academic levels and become effective advocates for positive changes in the South African education system.
This knowledge gives us conviction that this problem can be overcome in South Africa if we are willing to act aggressively against it.