President Cyril Ramaphosa took to the podium to salute teachers for their selfless service in turning schools into centres of excellence. He urged all education stakeholders to work with Government in supporting teachers to continue the diligent work of serving the school community. The President addressed the sector during the 21st National Teaching Awards (NTAs) held at Emperor’s Palace in the Gauteng Province on 06 October 2021. The NTAs were conceptualised during the late Professor Kader Asmal’s tenure as Minister of Education and have since been organised annually to recognise teaching excellence across South Africa.
In his address, President Ramaphosa said teachers should go beyond the call of duty to promote critical values required in channelling young people towards a non-sexist and non-racist society. “We have to unite to develop a new generation of patriotic citizens, young people who are conscious of their responsibility to build a better society,” remarked President Ramaphosa. The President further added that the NTAs afforded Government an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the vital contribution teachers make in educating and nurturing young minds. “We salute teachers whose dedication and commitment drive social development and foster inclusive economic growth because a nation’s future starts in the classroom. Working under difficult circumstances, our teachers are examples of resilience, excellence and professionalism. Even at the height of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, teachers have remained true to their calling to secure our collective future. We are indebted to the teachers who made it possible for the education of our children to continue through blended learning and other strategies”.
“As we celebrate the 21st NTAs, we do so recalling the passion, tenacity and intellect that Prof Asmal brought to the teaching profession. For him, education was a revolutionary undertaking; the most potent force in our struggle to end poverty and misery, and the foundation upon which all human endeavour is built. The Present also advised the DBE to pay more attention to learner dropout rates, especially during the pandemic. “As a nation, our most pressing challenge right now is youth unemployment. Some of the young work-seekers are not well educated and do not possess sufficient skills and previous work experience. This requires that every child has access to Early Childhood Development; that every child can read for meaning at the appropriate age; that we prioritise achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and that we substantially reduce the dropout rate in our schools. In addition, we must safeguard teachers and learners and ensure that the teaching and learning environment remains conducive at all times. We need to continue to take the necessary precautions and observe all the health protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in school settings,” he concluded.