Zimbabwean teachers in South Africa : a transient greener pasture

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    Zimbabwean teachers constitute the largest group of migrant teachers in South Africa (Department of Higher Education & Training (DHET), 2013). The main reason South Africa welcomes migrant teachers is to ease the country’s own teacher shortage. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore Zimbabwean teachers’ motives for migration to South Africa and their future career plans. Fifteen migrant Zimbabwean teachers in public high or combined schools (private schools) took part in semi-structured, face-to-face interviews. Several sampling techniques (purposive, quota, convenient and snowball sampling) were used to select the teachers in Gauteng Province. The data was analysed qualitatively using open coding. The findings revealed that the economic and political instability in Zimbabwe (a push factor) played a much stronger role in migration decisions of the migrant teachers than did pull factors such as the close proximity of South Africa, and the existence of a migration network in South Africa. The findings of the study also revealed that some of the migrant Zimbabwean teachers migrated to reunite with their families, as they preferred not to split their immediate families between two countries. Migration networks were effective in assisting the migrants to find employment. The future plans of the majority of the teachers were ambitious. They involved improving their academic qualifications, getting employment in the tertiary education sector, and migrating to other, better paying countries. Migrant teachers are playing a crucial role while balance is being sought between demand and supply of teachers in South Africa. They ought to be given fair contracts that would encourage those who want to stay on, to do so.