The purpose of this study was to investigate Student teachers’ perceptions and expectations of the teaching profession in a South African university. The need to undertake this study followed the reported decline in the status of the teaching profession as well as the contradicting reports on the shortage of teachers and reasons for the choice of the teaching profession by student teachers.
It has been established in this study that student teachers still believe that teaching remains an important career for several reasons, including but not limited to the fact that teaching offers a steady career and a secure job; that the profession provides a reliable income and that it is a fulfilling career; and that student teachers make a conscious decision to join the profession due to their love of working with children and positive contribution to the society. But, other issues affecting the profession and the proper discharge of duties by teachers have been identified, such as the decline in teacher professionalism; over-crowding in classes and the increased administrative responsibilities assigned to teachers. In general, participants in the study reported to have joined teaching either for intrinsic or for altruistic reasons.
Recommendations drawn from what the researcher has found to be the most critical areas of the findings have been made with regard to: (a) the introduction of salary tax relief for teachers; (b) improvement of discipline; (c) transforming the teaching profession; (d) intensified capacity building and skilling of educators; (e) re-imagining educators’ professional identity through improved professional virtue; (f) addressing safety and insecurity concerns at schools; (g) lessening administration work of teachers; (h) effective and sustainable infrastructure development and (i) reconsidering and reconfiguring the role of teacher unions.
In brief, the findings of this study have revealed some critical areas that need to be addressed for the betterment of the expectations and perceptions of student teachers at the university the sample was drawn from.