All you need to know about teaching

By Victoria Ntuli

In the past 8 years, the interest in teaching has increased rapidly. Each year universities receive thousands of applications of prospective students applying for teaching making it their first choice. In the past teaching did not capture anyone's interest until the introduction of the funza lushaka bursary which was introduced to encourage young people to do teaching because there was a great shortage of teachers across the country especially science teachers. This shortage has made young people jump to the opportunity and apply for teaching. Now, in 2021 we have so many teachers within our communities, student teachers and we still have learners who proudly say they want to be teachers in the future.

After matric when I was doing my university applications without a blink I applied for teaching I never thought much about it, I just selected it. And the rumours were that teachers are in demand, yes you are going to get a job, primary and secondary teachers don't get the same salary, you will be receiving a stipend in your final year, etc. So sending my application for teaching was the best decision since the career was glorified. After completing my 4-year degree in education I realised that all the information I got regarding teaching was misleading. In this article, I will explore this fascinating career that took the nation by storm.

Bachelor of Education (BEd) also known as teaching is a 4-year degree that entails both theory and practicals. Education is classified into 3 categories. In BEd, there is Foundation phase, intermediate phase, senior phase and FET phase.

BEd in Foundation Phase 
The Foundation phase comprises of three grades that are grade 1-3.  These are tender grades where learners need attention. This is a phase where teachers need to build a strong foundation for learners. A foundation of learning and discovery. This is a phase where learners get to be taught to write their names, to count, to draw, to color and to identify objects. Teachers need to be patient and love kids to bring out the best in learners.

BEd in Intermediate phase 
This phase also comprises of 3 grades that are grade 4-6. Learners in these grades are eager to learn and take on challenges faced at school. Intermediate phase teachers create a strong foundation and prepare learners for senior and FET phases. If working with primary learners fascinates you then you should definitely go for foundation phase or intermediate phase.

BEd in enior and FET phase
In the past, these phases were separated. Prospective students had to choose whether they want to study senior phase or FET. Now they have combined the phases making it one qualification (Senior Phase and FET) allowing prospective teachers to teach grade 7 to 12. These are crucial grades for both teachers and learners. These are the grades where learners discover themselves, discover their talents and careers they may be interested in. Above all, these are the grades where social life hugely impacts their school work. This phase requires understanding and firm teachers. If working with learners in the adolescent stage is ideal for you then you should consider applying for Senior Phase and FET.

Which university is the best
Many prospective students ask which university is best to study teaching? and the answer is simple all universities are good. It is really up to an individual which one they prefer. Most importantly it is not about which university is the best but which university you meet requirements In, for example, what if people say that the University of Pretoria is the best in faculty of education but you unfortunately, don't meet their requirements are you going to give up and not consider other universities that you qualify in?. Your results will determine which university you should study teaching.

Job opportunities
We are in an era where prospective students are encouraged to study careers that have many job opportunities and not the careers they love. I guess that is the topic for another day. In my opinion, teaching no longer has job opportunities. The truth is more and more graduates each year join the existing unemployed teachers. New schools are not built, the Department does not want to hire new teachers, there's preference of funza lushaka students over nsfas and self-funded students, not to forget corruption and nepotism where some principals hire their friend's children. More teachers within the system are temporary teachers, they have to go through the stress of wondering if their contracts will be renewed or not. These teachers can't even make bigger plans with their salaries because they know that their income can stop. We are living in a time whereby posts are advertised but a  person who will fill the vacant position is already known. Desperate graduates day in and out attend interviews they are not going to pass because someone is waiting to sign the contract. This is the reality, this is what I faced in my job hunting phase. Here I am today still an unemployed teacher.

There are so many education graduates within my community who are unemployed. The reason behind this is because many prospective students opted for teaching thinking teaching is in demand only to find out that is no longer the case. This is not to discourage anyone but this is what I have seen and many have experienced with the education hiring system. If teaching is your passion don't be discouraged, study with pride. You may be lucky and get employed.

Many prospective students before applying for teaching are interested in knowing how much teachers earn. We have been fed with wrong information to say that secondary teachers earn more salary than primary teachers. Some went to an extent to say that teachers are not earning much. I think at the end of the day it is up to an individual how they understand and value money. To some R10 000 is a lot of money and to some, it's just peanuts. Teachers earn a salary of R18 000 to R30 000 depending, on the number of years teaching and the position held within the school.

I would encourage those who are interested in education to study teaching with the right intentions, to study teaching because they want to make an impact in these learner's lives, they want to contribute positively and they want to instill change in how learners perceive education. Do not study teaching because it has too many job opportunities and because of the salary. I promise, you won't enjoy working, you won't enjoy teaching these learners but you will enjoy month ends. If you are not prepared learners will drain you.

Teaching is not about standing in front of learners and teach. There is more to teaching;  the admin, the parents, meetings, the marking, etc. If you genuinely love teaching then go for it. This is the most fulfilling job, teaching someone something and they finally master it, the moments where learners come running to you that everything you taught them came out of the exam and the random letters you will get from learners. The love ❤️.


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