Basic Education Deputy Minister, Dr Makgabo Reginah Mhaule
Basic Education Director-General, Mr Hubert Mathanzima Mweli
Basic Education Senior officials
Distinguished Guests, All our teachers
All Education stakeholders and social partners
Officials from SACE, NECT; ELRC and the ETDP Seta
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am delighted to address you as we mark the end of the 2020 October Teachers’ Month. I am also glad that we are releasing the TALIS 2018 Volume 2 at this very same seminar. It is not a coincidence, but a deliberate and calculated move.
We decided to be true to the 2020 Teacher’s Month Theme of, ‘Working in Solidarity with Teachers during the COVID-19 Pandemic.’
Furthermore, through this combined event, we are saying, let’s work together today, tomorrow and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our country needs us. Our country values us. We are more than the sum total of our professional ranks, stress and heartache, but trailblazers and light-holders.
In our collective consciousness as a country, we know that without our teachers, we will stumble, fall, and the whole basic education system will collapse.
In the wake of the basic education’s fall, the levels of illiteracy will undoubtedly rise. At the same time, our fledgling democracy may suffer irreparable damage.
As I have said before public schooling is more than just chalk-and-duster, smart classrooms, or even diapers and lunch boxes.
Research shows that it is cheaper to keep a child in a public school than in a correctional service centre or prison.
For instance, in 2019, the cost of feeding just one prisoner stood at around R11 700 per month while education spending per learner per year stood at R16 000 on average by 2017 in public schools.
Research has shown that democracy survives better in educated societies.
Higher levels of economic growth have been linked to higher levels of investment in public schooling that yields better learning outcomes.
It has been proven at least in the US that graduating from high school for any gender, or race improves the quality of health, reduces dependence on the State by 60 percent, and cuts by six times the rate of alcohol abuse.
Researchers have long argued that education also plays a crucial role in the reduction of crime, improved public health, and greater political and civic engagement.
All these tremendous benefits of education manifest through the teaching profession, of which our teachers play a central role.
It is within this context that amid the COVID-19 pandemic and its dire effects on livelihoods and economy that we resolved to rescue the academic year, and our teachers led the way.
We, together with our teachers, did so to save not just the 2020 academic year but a generation of learners from a doomed future of life living with intellectual deficiencies.
We were mindful of the extra burden on our teachers having to teach in a completely new environment that doesn’t allow them to be close to their learners.
Some teachers had to double up as health workers to save the academic year amid the COVID-19 mitigation measures.
As a country, we are grateful to all our teachers for your sacrifices.
We send our deepest condolences to those teachers, non-teaching staff and learners that have succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic and other ailments.
We salute our fallen heroes and heroines. Rest well, we shall see you in the morning!
Programme Director; we have done a lot to ease the burden that comes with teaching in the public schooling environment.
We are experimenting with ICTs (through the TeacherConnect App), and television supported tuition, especially for matrics through the innovative and partners’ driven programme, the Woza Matrics 2020 Catch up Campaign.
We urge all teachers and learners in the public schooling system to download this App and make use of it.
It has built-in COVID-19 screening capabilities (through HealthCheck, a National Department of Health platform).
In the main, it is a tool for both teaching and learning during the times of COVID-19 and beyond.
I urge you to download the TeacherConnect App. It is available through the chat service, WhatsApp.
To access the App, teachers, parents and learners can save and interact with the TeacherConnect App on this number 060 060 3333 to conduct a health check and access other educational services as explained.
In his address to the recent Joint Sitting of the Houses of Parliament, His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa made a ground-breaking announcement about the centrality of basic education in our country.
President Ramaphosa announced that as part of the post-COVID-19- basic education social compact, we are going to further ease the administrative burden on the shoulders of our teachers.
Yes, the President said: we are creating 300,000 work opportunities for young people to be engaged as education and school assistants at public schools throughout the country.
The education and school assistants are to help teachers with basic and routine work so that more time is spent on teaching and enabling learners to catch up from time lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This initiative of engaging the teacher assistants is us as Government, walking the talk of the Teacher Appreciation Movement, in a far-reaching and meaningful way.
This education and school assistants are the proud legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic’s excellent management by this Government in partnership with our people.
During the height of the pandemic, it became clear that public schooling is more than just about academic credits and accolades. We remodelled ourselves as a new frontier that provided other key developmental indicators such as health, nutrition and hygiene.
As part of the COVID-19 relief efforts, financial support is being provided to more than 100,000 early childhood development practitioners.
More than 40,000 vulnerable teaching posts in the fee-paying public schools are being secured through financial support because they recorded lower income from school fees than expected.
Programme Director; it is within this context that we merged today’s event with the release of the TALIS 2018 Volume 2 report.
The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) in short, is an international, large-scale survey of teachers, school leaders and the learning environment in schools.
The TALIS survey is one of the critical projects of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
In turn, the OECD is an international organisation that works to build better policies for better lives.
Its goal is to shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all. It was founded almost 60 years ago.
South Africa is the only African country to participate in this global TALIS study of teachers and school managers.
Through our TALIS participation, we have positioned ourselves as a learning system that is eager to measure our capabilities among the best in the world.
Our long-term dream is to build an excellent education system that stands up to the highest international benchmarks and standards.
The SOUTH AFRICA COUNTRY NOTE Results from TALIS 2018 Volume 2 raises the voices teachers and foregrounds critical issues impacting on the teaching profession at schools and a professional level.
We are indebted to both the OECD and the TALIS teams for the robust academic study of the conditions of our teachers at a time when public schooling is under threat from the unbridled free-market fundamentalists.
As you have heard from Ms Tremblay, she has outlined very clearly and concisely the critical findings for South Africa.
We appreciate the presentation today, and thank you for the role you continue to play in the basic education sphere.
The key takeaway from the TALIS 2018 Volume 2 report is the fact that South Africa is one of the countries with the highest share of teachers who feel that their profession is valued in society across TALIS.
As you might have heard a whopping 61% of our teachers “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement that their profession is valued in society.
The most exciting thing is that these numbers are significantly higher than the average across OECD countries and economies participating in TALIS 2018, standing at a low of 26%.
For us Government, it is heart-warming to see that our efforts at teacher appreciation are beginning to bear fruits.
We invite bright minds young and old to join the teaching profession. Be the light!
However, we are saddened to learn that some eighteen percent of our teachers regret having decided to become a teacher.
Nonetheless, we thank all of you for your contribution thus far. Nangomso!
Let’s know what we can do to keep you in the system and build your inner resilience to help you and our country to face the uncertain future.
As Government, we remain committed to enabling teachers to give of their best to the teaching profession, their learners and our country.
We have to create a better future for our present generation as a bequest to future generations.
In conclusion, as a teacher myself, I am proud to say teaching is more than just a profession. It is much much more. It is about shared values and shared humanity that leads to shared prosperity.
I thank you.