Teacher training traditionally has been provided at Teacher-Training Colleges located in the provinces, but at the start of the twenty-first century South African educational reforms also included the relocation of teacher training to the National Department of Education and various Universities running three or four year diploma courses for those who wish to teach in primary schools. Certain universities and technikons also provide teacher education of this sort. Secondary school teachers are trained at universities and technikons through degree level courses. Tertiary level educators often receive their credentials at the same universities where they eventually become employed. In the late 1990s, for example, UNESCO noted, "40 percent of academic staff obtained their highest qualification at the University in which they are employed, 30 percent at another South African University, and 30 percent at a foreign university."
Teachers' unions and associations covering a wide range of political perspectives and advocating a variety of visions for the future of South African education have long been active in South Africa and continue to enjoy widespread popularity among professional educators in South Africa. Coming from a long tradition of labor organizing and civic activism, much of which developed out of the struggle to end Apartheid, many South African educators belong to unions and organizations representing their professional interests and intended to facilitate the negotiation of policies beneficial to them and their students as the country charts its course through new waters in the educational field.
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