World Teachers’ Day is an annual global event initiated by UNESCO and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and celebrated with its partners, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and Educational International (EI), to honour and celebrate teachers annually on 05 October. The international theme for this year’s commemoration is: “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers”. The international theme links well with Government’s 2017 national celebrations in honour of Mr OR Tambo, freedom fighter, lawyer and teacher, who personified the values of a quality educator by promoting the importance of education and the empowerment of teachers.
The Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, was joined by teachers, the OR and Adelaide Tambo Foundation and the various organisations that form part of the Teacher Appreciation and Support Programme (TASP), to celebrate World Teachers’ Day during a gala event that took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria under the theme: “Valuing Teachers, Improving Their Status”.
Minister Motshekga made reference to teachers such as Mr OR Tambo, saying “We must celebrate excellence in leadership as a means of recognising the positive contribution that outstanding leaders make in our society. This also helps us to preserve our stories for posterity. We have the duty to preserve our heritage so that future generations understand the significance of the sacrifices that were made for us to be where we are today. The Department of Basic Education believes in the adage that says the quality of a school cannot exceed the quality of its teachers. In this regard, we are doubling our efforts in the area of teacher professionalism, continued learning programmes including leadership and school based management. Without a transformed teaching force, our current education system will never be ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution”.
Minister Motshekga, used this opportunity presented by the commemoration of this special day to launch a month of activities to thank all those teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty every day to ensure that our children have the best chance of success in the world as well rounded active citizens. This will done through the TASP, which is led by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the South African Council for Educators (SACE); and is supported by the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), the ETDP SETA, Teacher Unions and School Governing Body Associations. The aim of the TASP is to support the Education 2030 Framework for Action by developing and celebrating South African teachers throughout the year, and not just on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day in October each year, as teacher development and support is one of the major focus areas of the DBE under the motto: “The teacher, the heartbeat of the nation”.
World Teachers' Day and Teachers’ Month, represent a significant effort to raise awareness, understanding and appreciation for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development across the globe. It also highlights the rights and responsibilities of teachers as well as international standards for their initial training and further education, recruitment, employment, teaching and learning conditions. Teachers have the power to influence young minds and thereby the trajectory of the country. In many instances teachers fill the void left by parents when it comes to instilling morals and values in the future generation. Let’s work together to improve the status of the teaching profession during Teachers’ Month and show our teachers that we value, support and appreciate them.