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Address at the sixth annual Teaching Awards dinner, 20 October 2005, Minister Naledi Pandor speeches

 

Address by the Minister of Education, Mrs Naledi Pandor, MP, at the sixth annual Teaching Awards dinner

20 October 2005

We begin by thanking our President for taking time out of his busy schedule to be with us this evening.

The President’s interest in, concern for, and expectations of, education are well known to all of us. He supports the achievement of quality outcomes, he welcomes the acknowledgement of excellence, and acclaims all those who pursue positive objectives in their everyday engagement in the project for education transformation.

Mr President, distinguished ladies and gentlemen at this our sixth celebration of top achieving teachers, allow me to reflect briefly on our South African education project and the goals we still have to achieve.

Though our education history spans some four hundred years, our education system today bears most visibly the dread design of apartheid education.

As we celebrate these achievers today, let’s not forget the evil intent of “Bantu Education” – not just separate, not just different, and not just unequal, but a system that was designed to make black pupils believe in failure, to make them believe in their innate inability, and to prepare them for work in the lower levels of the economy.

The legacy of this system has had awful consequences for South Africa – teachers believe they can make little difference, administrators believe they should make little effort, and pupils believe they are destined to fail.

The teachers we honour today have resisted this characterization through their practical impact on schools. They have demonstrated that good teaching matters in the lives of the children they teach.

Our aim is to train more and more teachers like you.

I spent the last two weeks in Paris, at UNESCO. And I return with a renewed understanding of the importance of teacher training.

I think not only of pre-service training but also in-service and further training, and the important role that continuous professional education plays in improving our schools.

In July the Ministerial Committee on Teacher Education reported and identified the difficulties that have emerged in the field of teacher education, difficulties that constitute barriers to the transformation of education in South Africa. The report makes some excellent practical recommendations about how those barriers can be overcome.

Over the past year, the Deputy Minister and I have visited schools and communities as part of normal day-to-day responsibilities and the government-wide Izimbizo programme.

In all communities, we listened to people expressing deep concerns, posing challenging questions, asking for meetings, and acknowledging progress.

It is clear that South Africa has come a long way. There are visible signs of improvement in the people’s living standards, a sense of achievement, and excitement about what the future holds.

However, we still face many challenges. And without a cadre of teachers whose morale is high, whose commitment is deep, and whose hearts are in their work, our efforts to confront these challenges will fail.

Teachers here tonight have demonstrated a dedication to the highest ideals of service.

They have placed their learners and communities first. They have shared their passion for learning with the next generation. They embody the finest qualities of citizenship envisioned in the Freedom Charter. They have truly opened the doors of learning and culture to all.

On behalf of the Ministry and the Department, I congratulate the National Teaching Award winners and finalists here tonight. Your success encourages us all to strive for the best in ourselves. Thank you.

In closing, let me say that it is also time to take stock of these awards. They have matured and they need a new focus, a focus that truly reflects South Africa in a second decade of democracy. We will reflect on a new focus with our partners and other stakeholders and hopefully, Mr President, when we invite you to join us next year, it will be to an awards ceremony that reflects a new social cohesion, a new education identity, and a new sense of achievement. I hope, Mr President, that you will continue supporting us in this project of recognizing excellence.

With these few words, I would like to invite you, Mr President, to address our guests.

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 6/30/2008
Number of Views: 655

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