Education activist Hendrick Makaneta is calling on government to prioritise maths teachers in South Africa.
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Writing on his Facebook page, he said: “Mathematics teachers should be paid five times more than their current salary package on condition that they improve performance of [pupils] in 2018. If they fail to improve [pupil] performance, then they should be returned to their original salaries.
“You cannot pay someone who teaches life orientation the same as someone who teaches maths. Maths is a scarce skill subject. If government wants maths teachers to do more, then they should pay them more,” he said.
Makaneta said South Africa needed a single, coordinated organisation of maths teachers to champion their interests. He lambasted structures such as the Association of Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) and the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF), saying they had done nothing to improve the conditions of maths teachers in South Africa.
“Organisations such as AMESA and SAMF have been meeting every year for the past 23 years, yet there is nothing tangible that can be seen in the life of mathematics in South Africa.
“All they do is join the chorus of people who complain daily that South Africa continues to be at the bottom of the list of countries in the world in as far as mathematics performance is concerned.”
Makaneta has praised Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga for her efforts to resolve the maths crisis in the country. But he said the minister should find time in her schedule to meet maths teachers face-to-face and hear about their challenges, adding it is not enough to meet experts and policymakers.
The implementation of policies rested with teachers and it was important to prioritise them, especially during important gatherings such as the recent maths indaba in Pretoria.
“The biggest concern is that if government does not prioritise maths teachers, we may continue to face problems of underperformance as maths [teachers] are often recruited to high-paying jobs in the private and NGO sector,” Makaneta added.