Minister in the Presidency Hon. Mr. Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe
Minsters and Deputy Ministers 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 Teaching Awards
Fellow South Africans
It gives me great pleasure and immense pride to be standing here and addressing you on this auspicious occasion namely, the 18th National Teachers’ Awards (NTAs).
The National Teachers’ Awards marks an important milestone in the calendar of the Department of Basic Education. Through these awards, we acknowledge and encourage dedicated and caring teachers in their efforts to develop each learner, in the basic education system, to be a true and complete citizen of the democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.
The National Teachers’ Awards are not a stand-alone project but part of the Department of Basic Education’s programme aptly named, Teacher Appreciation and Support (TASP), which is aimed at ensuring that the celebration of teachers is not a once off event.
In fact, the National Teachers’ Awards (NTAs) should be considered as an act of restitution. Through this prestigious event we pay homage to the men and women whose selfless dedication to the profession of teaching outshines the rest. Teachers are in the frontline of the war against ignorance, poverty and backwardness. Teachers are torchbearers of hope and light. Without the teaching profession there would be no other profession. These leaders of the teaching craft are protectors of the classroom as a Holy Grail of learning and teaching.
We must always bear in mind that we, as managers of basic education and teachers, are the repositories of the dreams and aspirations of millions of South Africa’s children. Basic education has significant benefits to human development along with its benefits to other sectors. Beyond increasing general knowledge; an educated population is better equipped to address issues affecting the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, such as the uneven and stagnant economic growth, poverty and youth unemployment in Southern Africa.
Therefore, teachers are the backbone of any functional democratic society. In this regard, we owe a debt of gratitude to the thousands of teachers who dedicate every minute of their lives to our Delivery Outcome 1, that is: “Improved learner outcomes”. The improvements we have achieved in the last few years were achieved despite the huge challenges the country and the basic education system faces – including but not limited to increased levels of poverty, unemployment, violence and abuse of all forms, lack of proper infrastructure especially in rural communities, low morale and societal ills, all of which affect the learning and teaching outcomes in our basic education system.
The 18th National Teachers’ Awards takes place in the midst of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest leaders this country, this continent, and the world has known – Isithwalandwe-Seaparankoe, Mr. President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba. As we know, Madiba dedicated himself towards the realisation of a noble goal, that of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, and prosperous South Africa.
As we confront the challenges of the present we continue to draw lessons and inspiration from his life. We shall use this historic occasion to unite, rebuild and renew the basic education sector, so that it can leapfrog into the 4th Industrial Revolution. Madiba dedicated his life to the betterment of the children of South Africa. In his retirement, he built more state-of-the-art schools then he did while President of the Republic of South Africa. He valued education, believing that it was the greatest engine of personal development. He said:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
As we celebrate Madiba’s achievements as a freedom fighter, a leader, a democrat, and the founding father of our modern nation, we must do so cognisant that his legacy cannot die while we live. We must reflect on his contributions as we strive to build a humane South African nation that espouses the principles of Ubuntu and social cohesion. We must all agree that basic education is at the heart of building such a South African nation; and that the teaching profession plays a pivotal role in building a cohesive society. We dare not fail.
Introduction of the Minister in the Presidency Hon. Mr. Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe
Programme Director; allow me to formally introduce our guest of honour, Minister in the Presidency Hon. Mr. Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe popularly known as Jeff.
He was born on the 18th February 1953.
• Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Performance, Monitoring, Evaluation and Administration
• Chairperson of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee
• Member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the African National Congress (ANC) since 1991.
Mr Radebe holds a B.Juris degree from the University of Zululand obtained in 1976; LLM in International Law from Leipzig University obtained in 1981 and studied at the Lenin International School, Moscow in 1985.
Mr Radebe became a student activist and joined the underground structures of the African National Congress (ANC) during the student uprisings of 1976. In 1976 he served his articles to become a lawyer in Durban and in 1977 he left the country for Mozambique on instruction of the ANC.
He worked for the ANC's International Department in Zambia. He created underground ANC and South African Communist Party (SACP) structures inside South Africa from Lesotho, giving political direction to activists. Mr Radebe was as a Radio journalist with Radio Freedom in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for two years.
He further underwent military training with Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), was arrested in Johannesburg and convicted under the Terrorism Act. His 10 year sentence, on Robben Island, was reduced to six years on appeal in 1986.
While on Robben Island, he was active in the ANC's political department, and by the time he left the prison, he was head of the department. Mr Radebe was released after organising a successful 12-day hunger strike to speed up the release of political prisoners in 1990. He also served as a project co-ordinator for the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel) between 1990 and 1991. In 1990 he was elected deputy chairperson of the ANC, Southern Natal Region.
Mr Radebe served as a Secretary of the SACP's interim Leadership Core between 1990 and 1991 and subsequently became the chairperson of ANC's Southern Natal Region from 1991 to 1994. He also served on the Natal Regional Dispute Resolution Committee and as the chairperson of the Regional ANC Peace Forum during the same period. In 1995, he became a member of the Ex Political Prisoners Committee.
Positions held post 1994
After the historic democratic elections on 27 April 1994, Mr Radebe served as the Minister of Public Works of the Republic of South Africa until June 1999. He also became a member of the Business Trust from 1998 to 2003 and as a Chairperson of the Nelson Mandela 80th birthday Committee in 1998.
Prior to his appointment as Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development in 2009, Mr Radebe served as Minister of Public Enterprises from 17 June 1999 to 28 April 2004 and as Minister of Transport from 29 April 2004 to 10 May 2009.
He was also a Deputy Chairperson of the ANC in the Northern Cape, and later acting Provincial Chairperson in 2004 and a Board member of the Local Organising Committee of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.
Among other achievements, Mr Radebe received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters by the Chicago State University in 1996, and Leucospermum flower named Radebe Sunrise was bestowed on him on the 23rd October 2005. He was awarded Honorary Colonel by the South African Air Force, Mobile Deployment Wing in 2006.
I thank you.