Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the department will work hard to address the lack of support staff to reduce the amount of time teachers spend on clerical tasks.
Minister Motshekga was responding to the findings from the Teaching and Learning International (TALIS) research survey released by the Basic Education Department recently.
TALIS is an international large-scale survey of teachers that investigates the condition of the teaching and learning environment in schools in participating Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and partners.
South Africa participated in the survey for the first time in 2018, making it the first African country to take part in such a survey.
The survey revealed that South African teachers are spending a hefty amount of time on administrative tasks – time which could be better used on teaching in the classroom.
Only 66 percent of classroom time is spent on actual teaching and learning in South Africa, compared to 78 percent in other countries.
Administrative burdens and keeping order in the classroom are some of the challenges cited by South African teachers as chipping away from their teaching time.
“This is an important report because it comes from the teachers themselves... Having read the report, we have to take into consideration, in our own context, what the reality is in terms of addressing the issues raised,” said the Minister.
Classroom size was also highlighted as a huge challenge by teachers. This was particularly evident in a question posed to teachers regarding where they would prioritise their spending if given the opportunity.
OECD researcher Dr Noémie Le Donné said teachers ranked the reduction of classrooms as top of their agenda, with the increase of teacher salaries as second priority.
While challenges were noted, the report highlighted key areas with positive results.
At least 88 percent of teachers surveyed reported that attending and participating in courses and seminars had a positive impact on their teaching practice.
“It is also true that teachers who report participating in such impactful training tend to display higher levels of self-efficacy and job satisfaction. The association is particularly strong in South Africa,” said Le Donné.
At least 97 percent of teachers in South Africa cited the opportunity to influence children’s development or contribute to society, as a major workplace motivation.
In a bid to find solutions, the researchers recommended that the department look into reducing classroom sizes.