The National Association of English Teachers of South Africa (NAETSA) was officially launched at the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in Pretoria on 01 March 2019. This marks the end of an exciting seven year journey of the DBE and the British Council (BC), and the commencement of the next phase of the journey which will see English teachers in South Africa take ownership of their professional development through the support from NAETSA.
NAETSA is the culmination of efforts by the DBE, the BC and provinces. The plan was for provinces to launch their provincial associations (PAETSA) to NAETSA. To date, seven provinces have launched their PAETSAs and two are scheduled to launch soon.
The NAETSA will promote the professional development of English language teachers through the formation of professional networks at a national level; the hosting of various professional development sessions and workshops at national and provincial levels across all nine provinces in South Africa; conduct research; and partner with local and international higher educational institutes.
Presenting the keynote address during the official launch of NAETSA, Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga said, “I am very grateful that we have reached this destination after many years of collaboration with the BC. I am pleased that teachers are seizing these opportunities presented by our partners to work together as a team, and to open the doors and horizons for our teachers to network. Only when you bring a bundle of sticks together, you are able to ignite a fire. Language teachers assist in teaching learners to develop a love or passion for reading and reading skills”.
The DBE was honoured to have a special guest speaker in the person of Professor Harry Kuchah, lecturer at the University of Leeds and President of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) in the United Kingdom (UK). Professor Kucha, in his address said, “Take control and ownership of your associations; become involved and, through teacher associations, move from a lone voice to a choir through shared practices to kindle a sense of belonging”.
The presence of Mr Colm McGivern, Director of the British Council, added to the illustrious occasion through his message of support and appreciation for the DBE/BC partnership. During the past years, the DBE/BC partnership has provided the much needed capacity building opportunities for Subject Advisors, teachers and officials from both the DBE and provinces. Mr McGivern said, “Although the importance that the English language plays in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and in globalisation cannot be underplayed, it is necessary to note that the BC supports all languages and mother tongue education as we acknowledge the importance of language for intercultural understanding interconnectedness. The BC will continue to provide study opportunities, study tours and top class opportunities to empower teachers. Working in partnership with the DBE, we will continue to enhance the language skills of teachers to deliver quality education”.
The seed funding for NAETSA was received from the Hornby Trust during 2015, following a proposal that was written by Dr Jenny Joshua, Director in the Office of the Director-General who was a 2014/15 Hornby scholar.