The Teacher Crisis and the Future of the Classroom - FUEL

The Teacher Crisis and the Future of the Classroom

Education in South Africa consistently features as an area of concern. Changing laws about smaller classes, logistical issues – especially in rural areas where transport remains an issue – and an attitude that undervalues the profession, have all contributed to the current teacher shortage crisis. Not having enough teachers is becoming a problem that creates barriers across communities and leaves students without access to education. Online training, however, offers a solution to this – offering students both access to education as well as more options or career paths to choose from.

The teacher shortage problem can be attributed to many causes and the answer may not be as simple as partnering with an online training provider. Change needs to begin at a teacher training level. Studies have shown that, in school, students who struggle to adopt digital skills don’t struggle because of a lack of skill, but rather because there is a lack of confidence on the part of the teachers. Once there is a system in place that allows for students and teachers to benefit from online training, the opportunities are endless.

Online training offers the opportunity for more flexible and productive teaching between teachers and students, despite the teacher shortage. Mallory Dwinal[1] argues that officials should welcome the introduction of online training into schools as a solution to the teacher shortage, but a lot has to change. Firstly, the law needs to allow teachers and schools to use online learning productively. Secondly, qualification standards need to be competency based, rather than seat-time based. Lastly, schools need more support to evaluate and choose the right technology. Dwinal concludes that:

Taken together, these actions would enable online learning to transform our teacher labor supply into the flexible and productive resource that 21st-century schools so desperately need.

The transition to online training in the classroom will be a difficult one. However, the current teacher shortage crisis leaves little choice but to find a solution. Online training offers this solution. It also offers an opportunity to redefine the traditional teaching landscape. To redefine what it means to be part of the teaching profession. This shift could change the future of schooling entirely, possibly drawing highly skilled professionals back into the industry, or by ensuring that all children have the access they need to the teachers they deserve, regardless of their age or geographic location. 

[1] Dwinal, M. 2015. Solving the Nation’s Teacher Shortage. Online: //

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