I completed my teacher training and first part of my career in UK and am currently working with some student teachers in school here. The difference between the training is astounding!!!
Here students are basically used as substitute teachers in schools while we were categorically not allowed to cover lessons. Every minute was spent planning, evaluating and developing resources. Also our teaching training is grounded entirely in your subject specialisation.
I can't quite work out what you mean by "here": the UK or South Africa? Seeing as I am formally not qualified in teaching, I couldn't get an appointment at any government school (something for which I am ever more grateful). I now teach at a reasonably decent private school, and I think I learned more in a single term in front of a class than I ever would have in four years of doing a South African B. Ed. degree.
I strongly feel that it is the lack of subject specialism which is a major problem here. It means there is a lack of passion for the subject, a lack of higher level knowledge outside of what is required in school, this also means that the many inaccuracies in textbooks are overlooked as the teachers do not have the knowledge to spot mistakes. Plus if you are unsure about what your are teaching, then this insecurity becomes evident and brings about behaviour issues.
Yup, most of the available textbooks are peppered with the most absurd of errors. As a recent example: in the science textbook that my grade 6 students use, it is stated that Galileo discovered Venus and Jupiter. The mind boggles.
Right across the road from us is a government school, and one of my grade 5 students used to be in that school. The girl is basically illiterate. I struggled long and hard to work out why it is that even though she studies hard, she always fails her tests because her spelling is so atrocious that one cannot make out what she means. Last week I finally discovered what the problem is: she did not know that letters stand for sounds. So she had been memorizing the shape of words - like a Chinese student, or a child deaf from birth, she in effect had to remember thousands of separate symbols. This is apparently the way reading is nowadays taught in many schools here. Some of my younger colleagues tell me that when they studied, they were never taught the technique of teaching grade 1 kids how to sound letters before stringing them together.
Well, our grade 1 teacher does use that method, and she took the girl in hand. It is now two days later and the girl is finally excited about going to school: an entire new world has opened for her. If she works at it, she'll finally be able to read, after five years in a government school.
The whole incident told me once again what an utter disaster public education in South Africa is. And our teacher training has descended into postmodernist nonsense and politics. I started doing the postgrad teacher's diploma last year, and within months gave up. I simply couldn't stand it anymore. They might as well have stamped the ANC logo on the covers of the study guides. The contents had virtually nothing whatever to do with how to teach anything, or with subject knowledge. It was all just about how bad things were in the past, and how essential change is.
In the meantime, from what I hear, government school teachers are so buried in pointless paper work that they literally have no time to prepare lessons or teach them. Kids from government schools tell me teachers mostly just sit at their desks, filling in endless reams of forms. Or they flee from class, crying because of stuff utterly undisciplined kids do.
The way it goes now, we may as well close down virtually all the schools in the country. Then parents would at least KNOW they have no schools. At the moment they think they have when in fact they mostly don't have.
The irony is that just about the only remaining good schools here are the former Model C schools, which are of course mostly white schools. Instead of simply taking over the system as they found it when they came to power, and then extending it to all communities instead of just white ones (a project that would have taken time but would have worked perfectly well), the governing party threw out the baby with the bath water. They unmade the education system in its entirety, and utterly failed to replace it with anything remotely workable. Result: the gap between white and black is now larger than it ever was before.
I have zero sympathy: with this, they really have no one to blame but themselves.
But then - you can't blame people for studying hard in a specific field, especially the sciences and then not wanting to have career in teaching due to the state of the system and of course the salaries compared to elsewhere
Heh, I did a B. Sc. in zoology, which outside of education is of no use at all. I get paid about half of what a government teacher gets, and have no real choice but to accept it. The government schools will not appoint me under any circumstances, and I never could earn anything more than that anywhere else either. I have concluded that a B. Sc. in zoology has about the same effect on one's CV as a criminal record, and wouldn't recommend it to anyone. :-)
But your point stands: why would someone with a B degree in, say, physics and chemistry, go work as teacher when he can get three or four times the salary working for SASOL?
Now I have to say that some of the problems in education are systemic and not the minister's or anyone else's fault. For one thing, most of our teachers teach, and their students study, in what is for them a second or third language. That is already a big challenge to overcome. Huge numbers of kids come from households where there are effectively no parents, so by the time they reach schooling age, they have quite literally sustained brain damage and there is preciously little even a good school can do for them.
I don't think people realize just what a catastrophically debilitating effect even mild neglect has on a child's mental development. Well, I'm the lucky winner who gets to pick up the pieces of wreckage and try to glue it all together again, so I have seen it with my own eyes.
Even in the case of kids from quite affluent homes such as the ones I teach, I am often astonished at how they are materially spoiled while being emotionally completely neglected by their parents. They have more expensive cell phones than I will ever be able to afford in my life, and get way more pocket money than I can allow myself, yet many of them are sometimes left for days on end to look after themselves, with parents not caring in the least whether they go to bed at regular times, eat a balanced meal, or pass their tests. It makes for a poisonous combination, because they end up being too undisciplined and unfocused to really make any use of a school, while at the same time developing a sense of entitlement and a lazy attitude that further diminishes their prospects.
Result of all this: fifty years from now, South Africa will still be mostly in the hands of whites. You cannot legislate or propagandize reality out of existence, and our education department apparently lives in complete and utter denial of reality, the pedagogical equivalent of religious fundamentalists. I sometimes wonder whether it is not a deliberate policy to keep the populace ignorant, and hence compliant, because if they had to come up with a policy specifically designed to ensure that the inequalities of the past remain, they couldn't have done better than our current education system. Heck, not even Verwoerd's policies, or the way they were implemented, did as much damage as the people's own "liberators" are currently doing.
In the meantime they angrily clamour about land reform, but they are barking up the wrong tree. A farm is of no use to someone who can neither farm nor even read. What needs to be transferred is not cash and land, but knowledge and skills, and the education department is making very sure that this will not happen.