Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga led the learners of Tsakane Primary School in song on Monday morning, 18 July 2011, as they joined millions of learners across the country in singing a special happy birthday song to Nelson Mandela.
It is estimated that more than 12-million learners at every public school sang the special song simultaneously at 08:05 as a special tribute to the former President on his 93rd birthday, now known as Mandela Day.
“I am deeply humbled by the response from our learners and from educators. The extra support from the broader community and the media to jointly play and sing the song will go down in history as one of the most memorable events in South Africa since the dawn of democracy,” said Motshekga.
“We’ve received overwhelming feedback from all corners of the country. All provinces are reporting that the national flag was hoisted, the National Anthem was sung and children stood side by side in their millions and sang Happy Birthday Tata with pride.”
The overarching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere. The theme for the day is “Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”
The Department of Basic Education partnered with Lead SA, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Brand SA, the SABC and other media houses to get the nation to sing in honour of the global statesman.
The Minister also showed her commitment to the spirit of the day and spent her 67 minutes teaching a Grade 3 class at the school.
Learners were put through their paces using the isiZulu literacy workbooks and did various reading, writing and conversation exercises.
Grade 3 learner Tshepiso Khumalo said he enjoyed using the workbooks and the special visit by the Minister.
“The book helps me and it is good to have her [Minister Motshekga] here today for this special day for Mandela,” he said.
Minister Motshekga also took the opportunity to remind teachers, principals and the wider school community of the important role they have to play in educating the young minds of South Africa.
“The bottom line is that there should be effective teaching and learning taking place in our schools,” said the Minister.
“Principals should be supervising teachers to ensure this is happening and district officials should be monitoring what is happening at schools. Parents too have a role to play. They should be checking their children’s workbooks and putting pressure on us if they are not satisfied.”
“There can be no more excuses. The problem is in the classrooms and nowhere else.”
The Minister said all roleplayers, including School Governing Bodies, must know their role in the analysis of the recent Annual National Assessments results and should make a commitment to improving them next year.
Images from the event: