The National Teaching Awards (NTA) is back after a break in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic with three brand new categories being added as a way of broadening the programme to reach a wider audience under the Teacher Appreciation and Support Program (TASP) and aligned to international award criteria the African Union (AU) and Global Principals Award (GTP) categories in preparation for eligible candidates to enter. These categories are the National Best Teacher Award, National Best Learner Award and the S/Hero Award, and have been benchmarked against the Global Teacher Prize criteria.
After provincial processes, the provincial winners in all 14 categories proceed to a national selection through an adjudication process made up of various stakeholders to identify the 90 finalists across all nine provinces. Each category is divided into general and specific criteria. The former focuses on the teachers’ knowledge of education policies and how he/she applies them in daily practices. Issues of addressing social ills like crime, bullying, gangsterism and substance abuse are part of this general criteria as it emphasizes that teachers deal with teaching and learning holistically. Candidates’ contribution and infusion of extra-curricular initiatives in and beyond the classrooms, will showcase the diversification of curriculum delivery in all facets of learners’ lives, and as such forms part of the general criteria. The specific criteria sheds light of specific aspects of the areas or subjects under consideration such as Mathematics or Natural Sciences.
The NTA under the auspices of TASP, was conceptualised and launched in 2000, and this year enters its twenty first year of implementation. Through extensive consultation, the NTA has been refined, modernise, as well as broadened in terms of its additional categories to aligned it with international standards. The NTA scheme is one of the ways in which the DBE annually acknowledges and appreciate the extraordinary efforts made by excellent teachers, often in very difficult conditions.
The NTA is a comprehensive process that starts in provinces through the nomination, identification and selection processes by specialists and expertise to identify and select the best teachers to represent the province in the national adjudication process. It covers teachers teaching in all types of schools and contexts and intend to showcase replicable and scalable initiatives in the education sector. The Lifetime Achievement category intends to honour teachers who spent more than 30 years of service in education.
Three previous NTA winners, all from the Limpopo Province, are now International award winners in the AU and GTP categories. Ms Mokhudu Cynthia Machaba from Ngwanamago Primary School in the Limpopo Province (NTA Teaching Technology Enhanced Teaching category), was a top ten finalist in the Global Teacher`s Prize. Dr Livhalani Bridget Sinyosi, Principal of Dzata Secondary School in Nzhelele East Circuit, Vhembe West District, was a winner of the AU Continental Teacher Prize 2020 for Secondary School Leadership and Dr Ngwako Stephen Sebopetsa, Principal of Rathaga Primary School was selected for the Global Principals Award 2020. These teachers are truly an inspiration to their peers and a sterling example to their schools and other schools in the country.