New Zealand recruiting African teachers to tackle shortage

If you are a teacher, New Zealand is looking for you.

The New Zealand government said on O ctober 14 it is going to recruit 6,000 teachers from South Africa, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia and Fiji to address its anticipated shortage.

“Our immediate focus is to get sufficient quality teachers in place for the next school year. But longer-term workforce planning is already under way, and the analysis being refined will support this work to address what is expected to be a need for even more teachers in a few years’ time,” New Zealand education minister Chris Hipkins wrote.

“Immigration NZ, working with the Education Ministry, directly emailed 6,000 overseas teachers who’ve registered an interest in working here, to encourage them to take the next step.”

University of Witwatersrand (Wits) education expert Mary Metcalfe doubts South African teachers will respond in a high enough number to impact the local education system.

“It is often young people who seek these opportunities and these enrich their experience and ultimately benefit the profession here when they return.”

Unisa education expert Elias Mathipha said South Africa has a shortage of 18,000 teachers.

“The universities are not made for producing teachers for primary schools. They are far from the communities. We don’t even know what is happening in the classrooms.”

Auckland University of Technology education expert Ruth Boyask wrote in The Conversation last Monday that New Zealand’s importing of teachers risks creating a mismatch in ethnic diversity among pupils and teachers.

“Even in the case of South Africa where black Africans are significantly in the majority, most South African migrants to New Zealand are white. In 2013, just under half the graduates of initial teacher education programmes in South Africa were white, even though they represent only about 8% of the population,” Boyask wrote.

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“The strategy to import teachers from the UK, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Fiji will do little to improve representation for indigenous Maori in the teacher workforce.”

Basic education department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said there are currently 410,000 teachers at 25,000 schools in South Africa, teaching 12.9 million pupils.

He said more teachers are staying in public education, while the supply of new teachers “almost tripled”, from 8,000 in 2012 to 23,800 in 2016.

“There is therefore more than adequate supply to address current attrition levels. We are not sure where the narrative that our teachers are leaving the public education system en-masse is coming from, this is simply not true.”