Address by the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor MP, at the Hector Peterson FET School Teacher Awards.
14 August 2008
Master of Ceremonies
Dignitaries present today
Honoured Principal and Educators of Hector Peterson FET School
Members of the School Governing Body and Parents
Members of the Learner Representative Council
Ladies and Gentlemen
It's a great pleasure to be here today to join in the celebration and acknowledgement of the contribution that teachers make to the lives of learners.
Hector Peterson, as I'm sure that all of you know, was 12 when he became one of the first casualties of the Soweto Uprising, an event that provided the momentum for Apartheid to be finally overcome.
Many other learners, students and people from all walks of life also made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be here today, enjoying a society that is free and holds promise for all. Naming your school after Hector Petersen - and indeed the function here today - shows that you do not take for granted the sacrifices that people have made for you.
When I received the invitation from the Learner Representative Council, I was impressed by your intention to acknowledge your teachers.
It made me think of a conversation I overheard recently that illustrates the importance of teachers and the impact they have in children's lives:
“At a meeting a businessman asked a teacher, “What do you make?”
What he really wanted to know was “How much money do you make?”
The teacher, thought for a moment, and then replied:
“You want to know what I make?
I make children work harder and smarter than they thought they could, and on my best days, I make them enjoy doing it.
I make children wonder, I make them question, I make them comment constructively.
I make them apologize when they are wrong.
And I make them look up to people regardless of how much money they earn.”
Teaching makes a difference. That is what we are celebrating today. In the words of Mr Thobani Ngxiki, the chairperson of the Hector Perterson LRC, “the purpose of the day is to recognize good work done by our educators …” We are celebrating the efforts and achievements of teachers in developing your thinking abilities, your physical abilities, and your social and emotional maturity.
Teachers develop future generations.
Congratulations to the principal and teachers of Hector Peterson FET School .
Your good work has been noticed. We know that this is not always the case. Some learners have a very different experience of teachers. They have to learn in schools where teachers are often absent, where teachers do not prepare for their lessons, with teachers who abuse learners, with teachers who have no regard for authority and with teachers who are not accountable to the communities in which they teach.
Teachers are the backbone of the education system. They hold positions where they are able to shape the futures of their learners, in negative and in positive ways. Your teachers have obviously made the choice to be a positive influence in your lives.
It gives the Department much pride when learners commend the good work that teachers do, often under very difficult conditions. We are grateful to have a teaching force here at Hector Peterson High School that is committed to providing quality education.
In conclusion, it is fitting that in the year of his 90th birthday, we reflect on the wisdom in the words of our own beloved world-renowned statesman and leader, Nelson Mandela. He had this to say about education:
“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a country.”
Clearly, the learners of Hector Peterson School acknowledge the importance of education in their lives. I applaud your effort to recognize and thank your teachers, and I applaud the efforts that the teachers have put in to deserve these awards.
Thank you, Dankie, Enkosi.