Perceptions on teacher productivity: comparing the cases of South Africa and South Korea
Engelbrecht, Lourens Marthinus
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After more than 20 years of democracy in South Africa, the education system has certainly experienced a number of "growing pains". It is estimated that 99% of South African children today enter formal education, but the percentage of those who eventually complete Grade 12 on time, if at all, is much lower. It is commendable that access to basic education in South Africa has increased, but at the same time the quality of education in South Africa is still a major concern. In this dissertation I work from the premise that the productivity of teachers have a major influence on learner performance. I decided to consider the South Korean education system as basis for comparison. This system is reputed to be one of the most successful education systems in the world, experiencing many successes in global tests like PISA, PIRLS and TIMSS. This study therefore explores the perceptions of teachers in South Africa and South Korea regarding teacher productivity. More specifically, the possible factors that relate to teacher productivity as well as methods for measuring teacher productivity were also investigated. The recruitment and training process of an education system plays a vital role in managing the quality of its teachers. While South Korea generally has an oversupply of teachers (especially high school teachers), South Africa, on the other hand, has major teacher shortages. In order to raise the quality, identity and status of teachers, literature suggest that a multi-faceted entrance examination could be considered. This examination should be required at the end of an education student's studies, before receiving official teacher certification. Based on the literature on teacher productivity, a questionnaire was constructed to measure the perceptions of South African and South Korean teachers (including principals) on teacher productivity. Schools in two districts (one from each country) were selected using a systematic sampling technique, and 30 schools from each district were drawn. From the Mangaung district in South Africa, 278 returned questionnaires were analysed, while from the Busan district in South Korea, only 40 questionnaires could be used. With regards to the measurement of perceptions on teacher productivity, the results indicated that the younger teachers from South Africa and South Korea who participated in the study were more open to the possibility of regularly writing teacher competency tests. I also found that the teachers from both samples were positive towards the prospect of principals measuring the productivity of teachers. In terms of value-added models that measure teacher productivity, I can conclude that further studies should explore the possibility to use the EMIS (Education Management Information System) to possibly track and link both teacher and learner performance in South Africa.