New salary scales for teachers were agreed to on Thursday by Education Minister Naledi Pandor, with her signing of an occupation specific dispensation (OSD) with education trade unions.
"The agreement is a milestone for public education," Pandor said in a statement. "It sets out the parameters for quality education and the incentives for improvement. "Educators can now concentrate on the job at hand. There is no room for mediocrity in the teaching profession."
Under the new system, newly-qualified teachers entering the profession would get R115,276 a year instead of R107,700 a year. The new salary scales would be backdated to January 1. The department said they were worked out in nine months of negotiations with trade unions.
Under the new agreement, there would be a three percent progression made every two years for satisfactory performance, with the first payment in July 2010.
Teachers whose performance was good or outstanding could receive an extra three to six percent, enabling them to move faster towards their maximum salaries. The first of these payments would be made in July 2011.
"Performance evaluation will enhance the quality of education provided in our schools and learner achievement is a vital component of that evaluation," said Pandor.
"Under- and unqualified educators will also be given opportunities to upgrade their qualifications," she said.
Teachers would also be able to develop career paths without aiming for promotions or elevation to office-based posts.
The Department of Education said the agreement introduced an education management service for "school-based managers" such as principals and deputy principals and "office-based educators".
In future, all principals and their deputies would have to have performance agreements. The department added that, under the new system, no teacher would receive less than their salary on December 31.
Salaries would be "upwardly adjusted" based on salary notches at July 1 2007, which would result in increases ranging from four percent to 9.9 percent.