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Opening remarks by the Deputy Minister, Mr. Enver Surty on Occasion of the 18th National Teachers’ Awards held at the Sandton Convection Centre, Gauteng, 17 February 2018

Programme Director

Our Guest of Honour Minister in the Presidency Mr. Jeff Radebe

Minsters and Deputy Ministers present

MEC’s present.

Honourable guests, Mrs Graca Machel, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Sisulu family, Mrs Louise Asmal, OR Tambo Foundation and the Tambo family

Department of Basic Education Director-General, Mr. Mathanzima Mweli

Honourable Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee and the Select Committee

Former Directors-General of the Department of Education

Heads of Provincial Education Departments

All National Teaching Awards sponsors

Members of the Media

Finalists of the 18th National Teachers’ Awards

Fellow South Africans

Good afternoon! Let me take this opportunity to welcome all of you to the glitz and glamour of the 18th National Teachers’ Awards (NTAs). This is an important gathering in the calendar of the Department of Basic Education as we converge this afternoon to celebrate the exploits of our teachers.

The 18th National Teachers’ Awards like other such august events are intended to recognise the significance and magnanimity of our teachers. The National Teachers’ Awards are part and parcel of the Department of Basic Education programme on Teacher Appreciation and Support (TASP) which is aimed at ensuring that the celebration of teachers is not a once off event.  

From the onset, Programme Director; allow me this rare opportunity to welcome our special guests: Mrs. Graca Machel, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Sisulu family, Mrs. Louise Asmal, OR Tambo Foundation and the Tambo family.

This year, 2018 is a special year in our country as we celebrate the life and times of the late Mr. President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba.  He is one of our own who occupies an upper echelon in the collective consciousness of our nation.  He is one of the finest sons of Africa and world. As we recall, Madiba’s life was solely dedicated to the service of humanity.  He did so without any expectation of personal reward or glory. He was truly an exemplar of probity, and a true servant of our people.

Madiba’s centenary offers us mere mortals an opportunity to say thank you to a father and a son of Africa who had emptied himself for his people. He had given us life's greatest treasures: love, values, education, principles and a name that was worth its weight in gold.

In the centenary of this giant, a colossal who moved us closer to justice and in the process became a champion for the oppressed throughout the globe, we must pause and ask ourselves how we can make our future work better for us all. We can do so by drinking deep from an ancient well of Madiba’s wisdom.  We need rediscover the meaning of public service to the people, the meaning of humility and importance of putting the country first before personal wealth and glory. We must galvanise the nation behind a common vision that of selfless and ethical leadership.

In his State of the Nation Address delivered yesterday, the President of the Republic His Excellency Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa cautioned us that in celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela we are not merely honouring the past, we are building the future. He said:

“We are building a country where a person’s prospects are determined by their own initiative and hard work, and not by the colour of their skin, place of birth, gender, language or income of their parents.”

In this regard, Programme Director, we are happy to dedicate the 18th National Teachers’ Awards to Isithwalandwe and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate uTata uMadiba. Madiba, a member and leader of the African National Congress, dedicated his life to the struggle for the liberation of his people and the people of the world. Madiba’s humility, compassion and humanity earned him the love and respect of the people of South Africa, Africa and the World. His abiding vision was for a society where no person was exploited, oppressed or despised by another. His life was dedicated to the building of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa and a just world order.

In the context of education Madiba once declared quite correctly that:

“No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.”

The 18th NTAs, like other such august events, are intended to recognise the significance and magnanimity of our teachers. The NTA is part of the Department of Basic Education programme on Teacher Appreciation and Support (TASP) which is aimed at ensuring that the celebration of teachers is not a once off event. To the recipients who will be honoured this evening, we salute you.

Thank you and congratulations to all teachers who have participated in the 18th National Teachers’ Awards. You have made our time here so special. I regard all teachers tonight as the most esteemed guests, and I would like to thank you for answering the higher calling of being teaching professionals.  

Consequently, I would like to warmly welcome all our sponsors for making this ceremony a success through your valuable contributions and active participation throughout the year. I would like to express the department’s profound appreciation to all of you. As a sector we are more than prepared to stand united to support teachers and quality learning across the length and breadth of our country.

Programme Director; allow me to also warmly welcome all our social partners such as the South African Council for Educators (SACE), National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), Education Labor Relations Council (ELRC), The Education Training and Development Practices Sector and Education Training Authority (ETDP SETA), Teacher Unions, School Governing Bodies, for ensuring that teachers are celebrated on a daily basis.


In conclusion, I want to reiterate our key message for the 18th National Teachers’ Awards (NTAs) that these awards are in fact an act of restitution, an act of gratitude, and an act of promise for the better future for both our teachers and learners.

The Read Foundation has succinctly enumerated the role of teachers.  They say that teachers are an extremely important facet of any society for a number of reasons; and their role in society is both significant and valuable.  These reasons are as follows:

  • Teachers are the people who educate the youth of society, who in turn become the leaders of the next generation of people;
  • Teachers are the people who are teaching children and imparting knowledge upon them in their most impressionable years; and
  • What children learn from their teachers at a young age, will most likely stay with them in some facet for the rest of their lives

Lastly, I would like to remind you that there is still more to be done to ensure that we work harder as a collective to improve access, redress, equity, efficiency, and the quality of teaching and learning outcomes.

We must always remember that it takes a joint effort regardless of one’s designation to achieve the mission and vision of Department of Basic Education. Our mission aptly says, “Every child is a national asset.”  To the recipients who will be honoured this evening, we salute you.

I thank you.

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 2/20/2018
Number of Views: 1041

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