Address by the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor MP, at the World Teachers Day celebration, Durban.
5 October 2008
The MECs for Education
HODs of Education Departments,
The DG for Education, Mr Hindle
Heads of Trade Unions,
Other Representatives from the Department of Education,
Representatives from other Government Departments,
Teachers and Learners
It’s my pleasant privilege this morning to welcome you on this special day, World Teachers’ Day, to celebrate, honour and recognise all the excellent teachers working in our schools.
Teachers are models of their profession, trusted by their learners, and warmly appreciated by parents. We honour a few of them every year in our teachers’ awards ceremonies and see the fruits of their labours in the striking achievements of schools of every description throughout the country.
I’m particularly delighted to be able to share World Teachers’ day this year with all of those present, especially the teachers who have been invited here today to join us in our celebrations. You have been chosen as teachers who have made a difference to the lives of your learners, who are also with us here today.
My officials tell me that the adjudication panels sat for four days, reading through the many entries that were sent in by learners who wanted to honour special teachers in their lives.
What a difficult job they had to select just 45 teachers from the thousands of entries sent in.
They tell me it was very encouraging to see how many of the entries described teachers who were able to make a difference by helping their learners understand school subjects well, particularly subjects like mathematics and science.
There were also many who saw their teachers as inspiring role-models, as sources of motivation, and as caring parent figures.
I compliment all the teachers whose learners sent in entries. Thank you for inspiring your learners and also thank you to all the learners who entered their teachers for recognising their efforts and these special qualities.
That is what we are celebrating today; the efforts and achievements of teachers in developing whole learners - their cognitive abilities, their physical abilities as well their social and emotional maturity, in ways that includes skills production for the economy but goes far beyond mere monetary measurement.
Teachers develop future generations – leaders, accountants, doctors, caregivers, citizens who are well grounded to contribute meaningfully to their country.
We are not the only ones celebrating today.
World Teachers Day is celebrated on the 5 October each year across the world in over 100 countries. This day has come not only to symbolise the commemoration of the signing in 1966 of the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers but also, more importantly, it has become a day to celebrate what teachers add to our lives.
Its aim is to mobilise support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers.
For UNESCO, World Teachers’ Day represents a significant token of the awareness, understanding and appreciation displayed for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development, and in our country it has created a platform to share the good that our profession continues to provide to our young democracy.
We in South Africa see this day as the beginning of a month of celebration – October is World Teachers’ Month.
Throughout this time there will be activities across the provinces to honour our teachers.
The month will culminate in the National Teaching Awards which will be held on 29 October.
I’ve asked all provinces, all districts and all schools across the country to celebrate their teachers.
And today I ask all of us here, and across the country, to stop for a minute and think about all those teachers who made a difference in our lives.
I ask you to stop for a minute and think about those teachers who encouraged us to understand the power of knowledge and who taught us how to think and learn.
I ask you to stop for a minute and think about those teachers who encouraged us not to be afraid of possibility and who encouraged us contribute to society as a whole.
I’m very happy to note that this year’s UNESCO World Teachers’ Day message has as its theme “teacher policies”.
The DoE has worked hard in the area of policy formulation and implementation.
I would like to use this occasion to highlight one of the groundbreaking policies that government has adopted aimed at improving quality within our education system.
Various research studies have provided evidence that employees, who are well looked after in terms of improvements in their working conditions, are more likely to strive for what we could refer to as ‘peak’ performance.
The Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) for Educators in public education aims to cement the good work that is done by our teachers and ensure that we achieve, among other things, the following:
- improve the career pathing of our teachers so as to give full recognition and reward to their excellent work,
- improve the salaries of our teachers in order to ensure that they stay committed to their calling,
- attract and retain teachers.
I want to emphasise that should we fail to attract and retain teachers, we put the youth of this country at a severe disadvantage in the future.
Teachers are the backbone of the education system. They hold positions where they are able to influence the lives of their learners, in negative and in positive ways.
You have obviously made the choice to be a positive influence in your learners’ lives.
It gives the Department such great pride when learners commend the good work that teachers do, often under very difficult conditions.
We are humbled to have teachers like you, committed to contribute to the Department’s vision to provide quality education to all our learners.
Clearly, the learners here today acknowledge the importance of education in their lives, as evidenced by their descriptions of you their teachers and how you have made a difference to their lives.
I applaud your effort to recognize and thank your teachers through entering the call and I applaud the efforts that your teachers have put in to deserve this recognition.
I thank you all.