Competent educators in every class: The law and the provision of educators

  • JL Beckmann, Professor University of Pretoria, South Africa


The literature suggests that the quality of the education learners receive in South Africa is well below par, due to, inter alia, the fact that a substantial number of educators in South African schools cannot be characterised as competent, average, good or excellent. A large percentage of educators may be regarded as poor performers and approximately 20 per cent of them do not have the required minimum qualifications for the tasks they have to perform. To explore the challenge facing South Africa, I examine the literature on the relationship between educators and the quality of education, and address the question as to whether legal mechanisms could, at crucial points in a teacher’s career, help ensure that competent educators are attracted to, and employed in the profession. It is common knowledge that the law governs all activities and processes that obtain in education, including those that determine the quality of educators entering the profession. In this article, I examine some of the aspects of the relationship between the law and the quality of educators. I begin with an analysis of key concepts such as ‘education’ and ‘educator/teacher’ and, drawing on the work of renowned meta- analysts who argue convincingly that there is a clear link between educational quality and educator quality, I foreground the need to regulate all aspects of educator deployment optimally, in order to ensure the presence of suitable educators in all classes. I trace the road typically travelled by every educator from pre- recruitment and training, and explore the role the law can play, at a number of crucial waypoints, to help address the less than satisfactory status quo. I consider, inter alia, how education students are recruited, selected, trained, and certified as professional educators. I also scrutinise the role of professional registration, appointments and appointment processes, induction, professional development, and conditions of service of educators. I explore how the law can, at important waypoints in educators’ career, enhance the quality of educators, and argue that the law may be key to ensuring that there are competent educators in every classroom.


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