Migrant Zimbabwean Teachers in South Africa: Challenging and Rewarding Issues

  • Zenzele Weda
  • Rian de VilliersEmail author


The research carried out regarding the experiences of migrant teachers in South Africa mainly highlights the challenges that these teachers face. This article reports on a case study that sought to document the experiences of 15 Zimbabwean teachers working in the Gauteng province of South Africa. Data were collected through semi-structured, face-to-face interviews and analysed qualitatively using open coding. The study revealed that migrant teachers encountered several challenging issues including a lack of job security, short and unreliable contracts, difficulties in accessing loans for those employed on short contracts, exploitation, xenophobic discrimination, lack of induction and lack of learner discipline. Professional development, good financial rewards, social acceptance and political freedom were some of the rewards that they enjoyed in South Africa. Understanding the experiences of migrant teachers is crucial to the promotion of their rights, reduction of the risks associated with their migration and to the improvement of their professionalism. Further research is necessary to find ways of protecting migrant teachers against discrimination and exploitation. It is also recommended that policy is drawn up that would facilitate the compassionate termination of migrant teachers’ employment contracts once the required number of South African teachers has been reached.


Challenges South Africa Teacher migration Teacher shortages Zimbabwean teachers 



We are grateful to all interviewees who shared their experiences. We also acknowledge the valuable comments that we obtained from the reviewers, which helped to shape this paper.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational FoundationsUniversity of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Faculty of EducationUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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