Teachers who leave South Africa to teach abroad and then choose to return home will be at the end of the line for public school vacancies. This is according to teachers who alleged they were being discriminated against and punished by the KZN Department of Education for leaving the country.
Many who possess extensive teaching skills and fulfil the criteria for re-employment say they are being overlooked, although there is a demand for their skills, and they were given last preference over unqualified or less qualified teachers. Even schools with vacancies are said to be turning them down.
Teachers unions, however, said that there was an agreement with the department to place newly-qualified teachers first and then returning teachers with a break in service.
According to the department the filling of posts are given to bursary holders, including Funza Lushaka graduates and NSFAS loan recipients, qualified Grade R teachers who have served more than 12 months, qualified substitute teachers who have served 12 months or more, first time appointees and the teachers returning after a break in service of 12 months, in the stated order.
South Africa has a dire shortage of teachers and government has paved the way to train more, especially students from disadvantaged communities via the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme. The scheme provides paid training per year as long as the student is successful and qualified students are then placed in schools chosen by the government.
Those who study without government funding are not bound to the placement process but good paying jobs are hard to come by and many choose to work in schools further away from home or at a better school with lower pay and fewer perks.
Not all teachers qualifying in South Africa are able to immigrate to work abroad due to financial constraints, language barriers, lack of the required skill sets and other personal reasons.
Most of the teachers who chose to leave the country constitute women and many return home to family commitments and other personal obligations. Many teach in Middle Eastern countries, China and Europe.
They’ve chosen to do so for greater rewards such as a better salary and in cases the lure of travel. They also accrue skills not always available within the South African context of schooling.
On returning to South Africa many have a good nest egg as well as experience.