President: SA teachers are examples of resilience, excellence

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the dedication and commitment of teachers drives social development and fosters inclusive economic growth.

“Working at times under difficult circumstances, our teachers are examples of resilience, excellence and professionalism,” President Ramaphosa said.

He was addressing the 21st National Teaching Awards (NTA) at Emperor’s Palace in Kempton Park earlier today.

The President said even at the height of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, teachers have remained true to their calling, to secure a collective future.

“We are indebted to the teachers who made it possible for the education of our children to continue through blended learning and other strategies.

“It is with deep sadness that we remember and pay tribute to all the teachers and other education officials who have succumbed to COVID-19,” President Ramaphosa said.

He said there is a need to continue to take the necessary precautions and observe all the health protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in school settings.

“I wish to encourage more teachers and education officials to heed the best scientific advice available and vaccinate against this deadly pandemic.

“Vaccination is not only about protecting one’s own health and life; it is also about protecting others and ensuring we can soon resume many of the activities that have been restricted for these last 18 months.”

President Ramaphosa said in honour of the fallen teachers, government must ensure the safety of teachers and learners and make sure that the teaching and learning environment remains conducive.  

The 21st edition of the National Teaching Awards were conceptualised during the late Professor Kader Asmal’s tenure as a Minister of Education.

“For him, education was a revolutionary undertaking, the most potent force in our struggle to end poverty and misery, and the foundation upon which all human endeavour is built.

“His memory compels us to celebrate the excellence and dedication of those teachers who spare absolutely nothing of themselves in the project to build a new society in pursuit of a better life for all,” President Ramaphosa said.

The President said teachers carry a great responsibility in a changing world.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is dramatically changing the way we relate to one another, live, work and educate our children. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, augmented reality, blockchain and automation are disrupting every industry across the world.

“For our children to operate in a world alongside smart machines, they will need to be educated differently than in the past.

“We believe that our teachers are committed to manage this transition, and we all have a responsibility to ensure that they have the capabilities and the resources to prepare learners for an exciting new future,” the President said.

As a nation, the most pressing challenge is youth unemployment.

“Some of the young work-seekers are not well educated and do not possess sufficient skills and previous work experience demanded by employers in the labour market.

“That places a great responsibility on teachers and education officials, and indeed on all of us to ensure that our schools, colleges, universities and other training institutions are producing the skills and capabilities that our country needs,” President Ramaphosa said.

The National Teaching Awards is annually hosted by the Department of Basic Education to recognise and celebrate outstanding educators who, often under challenging circumstances, remain committed to their noble craft and produce extraordinary outcomes.

The 21st edition of the Awards has been benchmarked against worldwide teacher award strategies such as the African Union Teacher Prize, the Commonwealth Education Awards and the Global Teacher Prize. This benchmarking has these enhanced the scope and audience of the awards structure and ceremony. –