How much money teachers in South Africa really earn

December 02, 2022

New data from Stellenbosch University’s Research on Socio-Economic Policy (RESEP) shows how much the average teacher in South Africa earns.

According to Irene Pampall, a researcher at RESEP, the average government teacher earned R42,688 per month in salary and benefits in 2019 – putting the average teacher in the top 5% of income distribution in South Africa.

Pampall said that many teachers themselves believe that they earn less than this, but they do not factor in benefits they receive over and above their basic salary.

A teacher’s basic salary is determined by their relevant qualifications and where that places them on the salary scale provided by the government, said Pampall.

“For example, a teacher with a matric and four years of university education would enter Notch 164,” said Pampall.

This would translate to a basic salary of R284,238 in their first year of employment or R23,686 monthly. Pampall added that most teachers experience pay progression every year, with older teachers traditionally earning more than their younger counterparts.

South African teachers’ total remuneration package includes large amounts of other benefits each month, said Pampall.

All permanent teachers receive an employee pension contribution equal to 13% of the basic salary and an annual service bonus, i.e. a 13th cheque equal to the basic salary.

All teachers who choose to join the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) receive a medical aid subsidy while some teachers who were appointed before 1 July 2006 may receive a smaller subsidy towards non-GEMS medical aid membership.

Teachers who own or rent a property may also apply for a housing allowance, which is R1,500 per month.

Teaching promotions lead to considerable increases in pay, with principals earning the most and teachers who are just starting off the least. Employees in higher positions receive higher pension contributions and annual service bonuses as they are calculated based on a percentage of the basic salary.

Over the six years between 2013 and 2019, teachers’ salaries rose by 15% in real terms. The prolonged period of above-inflation increases in teachers’ pay has resulted in serious pressure on provincial education budgets, said Pampall.

Hiring freezes have been implemented for heads of departments, deputy principals and principals across the country, said Pampall. Alongside a trend of less hiring for upper positions, real per-learner spending has significantly declined, she added.

Come 2020 to 2022, there were, however, no cost-of-living adjustments, which saw teacher salaries decline in real terms, although the impact was softened by cash gratuity.

“In October 2022, teacher unions agreed to a 3% cost-of-living increase in basic salary, which will be combined with a cash gratuity and the usual 1.5% annual pay progression to give a total increase of over 6%.”

Shortage of teachers

According to the research group, there is a growing number of teachers that will soon be retiring with little capacity to fill their places.

In 2021, almost half of publicly-employed teachers (49%) are aged 50+, said RESEP.

“Teachers can retire from age 55, and in most circumstances have to retire by age 60 – though in some circumstances a limited number are allowed to remain in teaching until age 65. Altogether, 49% of teachers are 50 years or older, and 25% are at least 55 years old. Thus a large retirement wave is inevitable,” the researchers added.

To fix this emerging issue, between 6,000 and 13,000 South Africans would have to graduate as teachers every year until 2030.-bustech

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Last modified on Friday, 02 December 2022 17:02

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