South African Journal of Education

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Johannesburg’s inner city private schools: the teacher’s perspective

Tracey McKay, Madodomzi Mafanya, André C. Horn


This study contributes to the literature by documenting the working conditions as well as the socio-economic and demographic profile of teachers employed in Johannesburg’s inner city low-fee private schools. A total of 42 teachers, working in 10 randomly selected inner city private schools, participated in a self-administered questionnaire survey. It was found that most were under 50 years of age, Black-African and foreign born (as were many of the owners of the schools). There were three distinct groupings: South African citizens, Zimbabwean nationals and other foreign nationals. Some were found to be underqualified; others had tertiary qualifications but not in education. Most were working there as a stop gap measure until they had completed their degrees or had a better job offer, either in a public school or in the private non-educational sector. Most expressed unhappiness with their low salaries, long working hours and poor working conditions. They lamented the lack of adequate teaching and learning materials, as well as negligible educational infrastructure such as libraries, laboratories and sports fields. Many wanted the South African State to support low-fee private schools better, both financially and managerially. The paper concludes that the embedded apartheid resource backlog of poor infrastructure and under-qualified teachers cuts across both public and at least some private schools.

Keywords: Johannesburg; low fee private schools; migrant teachers; quality education; South Africa

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