“Without good teachers, our targets of boosting the level of education and skills development in the country will fall flat,” Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery at the anniversary of the Progressive Professionals Forum.
“I am therefore mobilising you as professionals to partner with us in promoting teacher development and empowerment, as well as in supporting education in every part of the country.”
Zuma said levels within the higher education sector also had to be increased.
Government had committed in 2011 to increase the numbers of honours graduates to more than 75,000, masters graduates to more than 17,000, and doctoral graduates to more than 5000, by 2014.
“The challenge in meeting these targets fully, is that the production of these skills is threatened by an ageing lecturing workforce at higher education institutions,” the president said.
“One fifth of academics will retire within a decade, and many of these are professors. This means that the most experienced academics will be leaving higher education.”
Zuma said government was concerned over the small numbers of younger researchers entering the field. He said the country needed to produce more researchers and younger lecturers during this term.
“The focus of government, through the department of higher education, is to grow the number of graduates from black communities and attract them into academic careers.
“We need to make academia exciting for our youth,” Zuma said.