Remarks at the National Teaching Awards Ceremony by Mrs Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education
25 Feb 2011
Honourable Minister of Planning, Mr Trevor Manuel
Director-General and officials of Basic Education
Heads of Trade Unions
CEO of South African Council of Educators (SACE)
Ladies and gentlemen
Minister Manuel, once more, a special welcome to you tonight. My fellow teachers are thrilled to have you here celebrating with us the 2010 National Teaching Awards. Thank you, most warmly, for being here with us tonight.
Actually, it has become an established tradition to have among us the Highest Office in the land when we mark the extraordinary achievements of our teachers, the liberators of the minds and spirits of our country’s children.
I would like to assure The Presidency and all the people of this country that since the inception of the National Teaching Awards, eleven years ago, we have never looked back. Excellence of many teachers has grown in leaps and bounds.
The fact that we continue to see teachers reaching these high levels of performance as shown by the impressive improvement in the Grade 12 pass rate, affords us hope, higher than rope, that indeed we have taken the ‘high road’ to progress. The education system is irreversibly turning the corner.
Looking at the esteemed teachers here with us tonight, the critical role of the teaching profession in nation-building becomes even clearer than the brightest star. I know for a fact, having been a teacher myself, that teachers perform a value-adding service, selflessly so, on behalf of all humanity.
Despite the fact that tonight’s exemplary teachers represent a tiny portion of the 360 000 teachers populating our schools, as a department, we look at their achievement with pride and great admiration. They represent the very best that our schools can offer to our country and our continent.
We all know the conditions under which our teachers work, some of which originating from the legacy of the past, a disempowering legacy that President Jacob Zuma rightly alluded to in the 2011 State of the Nation Address.
What is worth noting is the spirit and high morale that these esteemed teachers, and many other dedicated teachers out there who could not be with us tonight, continue to show across our school system.
It is this selfless commitment to the noble profession of teaching that gives us all the hope that our country will live up to the vision of creating a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society.
These teachers have embraced a firm view that despite the awful consequences of the legacy of the past era, they will rise above the challenge and be equal to the developmental tasks facing our country.
There is no question. Our country desperately needs a cadre of educators the calibre of tonight’s recipients. Such are educators endowed with the skill greatly to inspire the young to soar up above the blue African sky. The ideal teacher is the one better placed to help us heed the call reiterated by the President only two weeks ago, that, “Teachers must be at school, in class, on time, teaching for at least seven hours a day.”
Our vision of a new cadre of teachers that will help us heed the President’s call and deliver on the outcome of an ‘improved quality of basic education’ is best articulated in the Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025. It calls for:Teachers who are confident, well-trained, and continually improving their capabilities. Such would be teachers who are committed to giving learners the best possible education, thereby contributing to the development of the nation.
I stand here to salute the recipients of the National Teaching Awards for living the values of a new teacher articulated in our Action Plan.
Our Minister for Planning in The Presidency does not require much introduction. His illustrious work speaks for itself.
Comrade Manuel, your presence, in itself, is a powerful statement in support of our teachers who are honoured for the brilliant and high quality contribution they are making in the humanisation of our children.
We feel truly blessed to have you here. You have confirmed by bringing the spirit of The Presidency into our midst that a dedicated teacher is fundamental to the promotion of the democratic values enshrined in our Constitution.
With these words, I would like to request Minister Manuel to address our guests and the teachers who have remained forever true to the call to serve the country and its people with honour and distinction.
Source: Department of Education
Issued by: Department of Basic Education
25 Feb 2011
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