Programme Directors: Mr. M.J Kutumela and Ms G Mbele
SACE Council Chairperson: Ms, Veronica Hofmeester
SACE CEO: Mr. Rej. Brijraj and EXCO Members
VIA Afrika CEO: Mrs. Christina Watson
Leadership and Representatives of Organised Labour
All Basic Education stakeholders
Senior Managers of the Department of Education
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
Programme Director, it is with humility and honour that today history has bestowed upon me this rare opportunity to address you this evening as we mark the 2016 World Teachers’ Day. Tonight, is indeed a special night as we honour those who bring light to the nation. Teaching is in fact a mother of all other professions.
On the actual commemoration of the World Teachers’ Day on the 05th October 2016, President Jacob Zuma sent his good wishes to all teachers in South Africa. The President reaffirmed that teachers are indeed the heartbeat of our basic education system.
Programme Director; in the same vein, a century ago, the great poet W.B. Yeats put it succinctly when he said: “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” As it has often been said, teachers have an influencing role in the life of every learner. They are like beacons of light, guiding us in the formative years of our life. Teachers mould us and in the process shape our future. What we learn from our teachers remains with us, throughout our lives. However, very often, we fail to show our appreciation and gratitude for their altruistic devotion. Teachers do need encouragement and support from the community to feel that their efforts are being recognised. By celebrating the World Teachers’ Day, we thank our teachers for providing us their invaluable guidance.
This year World Teachers’ Day marked the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. It is also the first world Teachers’ Day (WTD) to be celebrated within the new Global Education 2030 Agenda adopted by the world community one year ago.
This year’s theme, “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status”, embodies the fundamental principles of the fifty-year-old Recommendation while shining a light on the need to support teachers as reflected in the agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A specific education goal, SDG4, pledges to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
Teachers are not only pivotal to the right to education they are key to achieving the targets set out in SDG4. The roadmap for the new agenda, the Education 2030 Framework for Action, highlights the fact that teachers are fundamental for equitable and quality education and, as such, must be “adequately trained, recruited and remunerated, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems”.
However, in order to achieve this goal, it is necessary not only to substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers but to motivate them by valuing their work. On behalf of the Basic Education Department and Government as a whole; we would love to wish you a belated World Teachers’ Day. We thank you for your unrelenting efforts and sacrifice to better the lives of our learners. We acknowledge your dedication and selfless service to the betterment of our country. World Teachers' Day represents a significant effort to raise awareness, understanding and appreciation for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development across the globe. We would like to re-emphasis our commitment as a Department to the continuous professional development of our teachers. Teachers are indeed a guiding light for the nation.
Programme Director, we dedicate this year’s commemoration to a scholar and educationist, the late Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo (O.R.) Tambo. We do so because yesterday it would have been his birthday. He would have turned 99 years. Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo (27 October 1917 – 24 April 1993) was a South African anti-apartheid leader and revolutionary who served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1967 to 1991. Comrade O.R. as he was affectionately known by his comrades and friends was the longest serving President of the ANC.
However, we dedicate this year’s World Teachers’ Day to him not because of his extraordinary leadership qualities during the darkest years of the anti-apartheid struggle but because he was an outstanding learner and teacher. He graduated with a B.Sc. degree in Mathematics and Physics from the Fort Hare University. He then enrolled for a diploma in higher education although he could not complete it after he was expelled for his political activism. Despite this predicament O.R. went to his alma mater, St Peter's, where he taught Physics and Mathematics for five long years.
In another show of extraordinary feat, later on O.R. completed his post-graduate degree in Law and went to open the first black-owned legal practice in Johannesburg with his friend and fellow comrade one Nelson R. Mandela, our founding father of the new South Africa.
President O.R. Tambo was indeed, for the better part of his adult life, an embodiment of all that was good and noble about teaching and leadership. He was for the lack of the better word the pride – body and soul - of the oppressed. He was the chief custodian of the principles of fundamental social change. He was a repository of the best values and principles upon which our movement was founded and sustained. He truly represented the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the masses of our people.
It is within this context Programme Director that we dedicate every day of our lives to this outstanding leader, Teacher, Lawyer and a Mathematician, O.R. Tambo.
I therefore encourage you to carry the legacy of Comrade O.R. Tambo in your respective roles as leaders of our society. Yes, you heard me right; teachers are leaders of society in that it’s their task to mould the young minds to scale to greater heights in life. “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge,” so eloquently said the Nobel Prize Laureate and German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein.
Programme Director, we subscribe to the philosophy that Teacher Development is the heartbeat of a functioning school system. In this regard, a lot is being done to improve the working conditions for our teachers. Together with our partners, we have invested heavily in the Teacher Resource Centres, and the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in teacher development. As a result of this investment, we have been able to multiply and expand the reach of our efforts at supporting our teachers in subject content knowledge and pedagogy.
Through Operation Phakisa, we will progressively roll-out ICT solutions that will develop and modernize the skills of our teachers and learners to match the needs of the 21st century globalised world.
Apart from our continuous support of various Teacher Development Institutes, I am happy to report that 2014 we launched the Subject Committees and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). The Subject Committees and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) provide a uniform mechanism for subject teachers and other subject specialists to contribute to the continuous process of curriculum development and effective curriculum implementation.
The British Council South Africa has partnered with us to support our effort in strengthening the teaching of English as a Language of Learning and Teaching. The main focus is on the national in-service training courses initiated through the programme, the Certificates in Primary and Secondary English language Teaching (CiPELT and CISELT).
There is a similar project aimed addressing the perennial problem of Mathematics learning and teaching. The thrust of our collaboration with the British Council is based on obvious need to develop a high tech teacher support programme. The plan involves the use of ICT equipment that allows teacher trainers in the UK to observe lessons and provide feedback to improve the teacher’s performance at the schools of the DBE.
Other notable projects to support teaching excellence include:
- With assistance from SACE we had strengthened the prevention usage of fraudulent documents and entry into the profession by individuals who could not be trusted with learners. Current projects included initiation of on-line registration, validation, rapid response systems, and categorization of registration and tracking of levies.
- We acknowledge the work done by the NECT where they embarked on several systems level interventions to support immediate system-wide improvements.
- We have also convened our Global Development Partners to focus on system strengthening through our sectoral plan – Action Plan 2019.
- The ETDP SETA as mandated continues to promote and facilitate the delivery of education, training and development in order to enhance the skills profile of the Education, Training and Development (ETD) sector.
- The ELRC continues to resolve re-deployment of teachers, promotions, appointments, and dispute resolution, progress through their relationships with the provinces. The department will continue to strive for the maintenance of labour peace in the sector.
In conclusion, in our last-ditch effort to affirm our teachers, we launched the “Teacher Appreciation and Support Programme” (TASP) in August last year. TASP seeks to and will succeed in addressing the needs of teachers holistically as both people and professionals.
Finally, I am particularly indebted to those South Africans who have volunteered their time and resources to act as the Ambassadors of the Read to Lead Campaign. I thank you!