Teachers provide hope of a better life for children

Friday, September 11, 2009

Johannesburg - Teachers provide the only hope that many people have that their children will find their way out of poverty, unemployment and hopelessness.

"Without teachers leading the process, the schools will never become the kind of empowering institutions that people have dreamed about for over a century," Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande said on Friday.

He told teachers, gathered at a South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) National General Council, that they were in a key position to counsel and empower children to further their studies according to the needs of a developmental state.

"This places an enormous responsibility on your shoulders because it means that without your total commitment to your noble profession and to uplifting the children of the workers and the poor, our revolution can never succeed and the doors of learning and culture will never be opened for ordinary South Africans," Nzimande said.

He noted that while many committed teachers were making the effort to provide learners with a decent education, it was clear that in many schools, their efforts were being undermined by others.

"It is no secret that there are a great number of schools which are dysfunctional and where teaching and learning are minimal, it is also true that our children's learning achievements are not what they should be and this is a serious blot on our education system and deadly to the culture of learning we are trying to cultivate," he said.

He reiterated that SADTU is well placed to lead the national effort to prepare young people for a successful future, cooperating with the Education Departments and communities.

Nzimande also acknowledged difficult circumstances that many teachers find themselves in, noting that the state also sometimes falls short in providing the kind of support that they need.

He assured the teachers that the current government is more committed than ever to working with them to achieve what needs to be achieved and urged them to hold hands with government and move forward together.

"Together we must identify the root causes of the malaise in many of our schools and try to rehabilitate those who do not take education seriously, revolution was never an easy process and turning around the kind of dysfunctional and malignant education system that we inherited from apartheid will take hard work and sacrifice.

"As an influential public sector trade union, I believe that SADTU has a more strategic role to play in the overall development of a functional, high quality education system," said Nzimande.

He stressed that the establishment of the two education departments should go beyond narrow, bureaucratic processes and should include input and co-operation from all sectors of society including organised labour.

"SADTU is a powerful voice in education and therefore needs to partner with government on its journey of continuity and change. This means that we should build on the positives in the system and remedy what is wrong."