An exploration into the experiences of job satisfaction, resilience and retention among high school teachers in rural KwaZulu-Natal, Mthonjaneni Municipality.
Dludla, Nondumiso Siziwe.
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Background The South African education system is being confronted by a myriad of challenges such as lack of resources in general and the glaring shortage of teachers in schools especially in the rural schools. This essentially has lethal effects on both the teachers’ performance and learner outcomes. In order to increase availability of teachers in the rural areas, a holistic policy regime that focuses on teachers’ working conditions, wellbeing, rights and responsibilities has to be developed and implemented. Currently, there is scanty literature that explores high school teachers’ job satisfaction, resilience and retention in the context of South African rural school. Objectives The main objective of this study was to shed light on the experiences and perceptions of the rural high school teachers regarding teachers’ job satisfaction, resilience and retention in the light of the changes taking place in the South African education system. Furthermore, the research work aimed at extending the knowledge on the influence of Human Resources Management practices on employee job satisfaction, resilience and retention. Methods The study recruited seventeen teachers teaching Mathematics and Physical Sciences across five rural high schools through purposive sampling. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews which allowed the researcher to obtain an in-depth understanding of teachers’ perceptions and experiences within educational institutions located in the rural set up. Furthermore, this study was guided by an Interpretative Phenomenological Approach (IPA) to research. Data was analysed through Thematic Content Analysis (TCA) which followed an iterative and inductive process, therefore enabling the researcher to make comparisons between participants’ perspectives. Findings Job satisfaction for a teacher derives from the enjoyment associated with teaching, challenging work associated with the subject they teach and positive feedback obtained from learners. However, the study shows that teachers were the least satisfied with their workload and the lack of cooperation from learners. Additionally, the lack of resources, inadequate training and challenges related to the curriculum hampered the teaching and learning process. The interviewed teachers perceived resilience as an important factor that underpins professionalism in the teaching fraternity, more especially within the rural context. Support from colleagues and leadership enabled them to prosper despite the adversities they faced in the rural schools where they taught. The lack of support from the district educational inspectorate, however, undermined their resilience. The majority of the teachers indicated that they had considered leaving the teaching profession due to inadequate remuneration, insufficient parental support, declining discipline among learners as well as a lack of appropriate safety and security measures in their working environment. Overall, teachers were dissatisfied with the current changes in the education system, citing the exclusion of the rural stakeholders in the education policy and inadequate training for curriculum implementation which somewhat incapacitated the teachers. Conclusion The findings demonstrate that job satisfaction and resilience play a crucial role in the retention of teachers within the rural context; therefore there is urgent need for the application of the human resources management strategies in order to elevate the teacher’s job satisfaction and resilience as well as maximising retention. Additionally, the implementation of effective and inclusive change management strategies is essential more especially for the successful implementation of new curriculum.