17 February 2018
Minister of Basic Education,
Mrs Angie Motshekga
Deputy Minister of Basic
Education, Mr. Enver Surty
Minister of Science and Technology,
Mrs Naledi Pandor
Honourable guests, Mrs
Graca Machel, the Nelson Mandela
Foundation, the Sisulu
family, Mrs Louise Asmal, OR Tambo
Foundation and the Tambo
Department of Basic
Education Director-General, Mr. Mathanzima Mweli
Honourable Chairperson and Members
of the Portfolio Committee and the Select Committee
MECs for Education
Former Directors-General of
the Department of Education
Heads of Provincial
All National Teaching
Members of the Media
All Education Stakeholders’
Finalists of the 18th
National Teaching Awards
Ladies and gentlemen
Fellow South Africans
I must hasten to convey President Ramaphosa’s
sincere apologies for missing this august occasion. As you know, he delivered
the State of the Nation Address yesterday, in which he gave all of us marching
President Ramaphosa is spearheading our national
project of renewal. Paramount to this renewal is education as a tool to break
the cycle of poverty. The government of South
Africa considers education as an apex priority in its programmes. Access to
basic and higher education and training are at the heart of the government’s
commitment to the future of this country.
I must commend the Department of Basic Education
for establishing this novel, highly imaginative and forward-looking project. We
are converged here today for these Awards, which celebrate excellence in the
teaching profession. These awards recognise and celebrate the sterling
contribution that our teachers make, not only in nurturing and empowering
learners for their future careers, but in developing humanity.
Programme Director, we dedicate this 18th
edition of the National Teachers Awards to one of the greatest sons of Africa
to ever walked on planet earth – Isithwalandwe, Seaparankoe, Nelson Rolihlahla
Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba.
In his eulogy at the memorial service of Madiba, the
former President of the United States, President Barack Obama, said, Madiba was,
“a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process
moved billions around the world.” Obama summed up Madiba’s contribution to
humanity when he declared that he was, “the last great liberator of the 20th
As we know, Madiba dedicated himself towards the
realisation of a noble goal, that of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, and
prosperous South Africa. He dedicated
himself to the betterment of the conditions of the oppressed throughout the
As a nation, we must continue to draw lessons and
inspiration from his life, as we confront the challenges of the present. We shall use this historic occasion, the
centenary of Madiba, to unite, rebuild and renew our country with a special
focus on the basic education sector.
In his speech yesterday, President Ramaphosa cited
education as the tool that we can use to break the circle of poverty. In this
sense, the President echoed the sentiments of our global icon, Madiba, when he
“It is through education that the daughter of a
peasant, can become a doctor; that the son of a mine worker, can become the
head of the mine; that a child of farm workers, can become the president of a
As we celebrate Madiba’s achievements as a freedom
fighter, a selfless leader, a democrat, and founding father of our modern
nation, we must do so, cognisant that his legacy cannot die while we live.
Madiba taught us that ethical leadership is indeed fashionable.
He offered hope to the hopeless;
resilience to the brave; and intellectual clarity to us all.
He remains the moral conscience of our struggle against the
vestiges of colonial oppression and apartheid. Our Madiba was a brave soul,
kind-spirited, courageous, and magnanimous leader and father.
He knew that public power was held in trust for the
benefit of the people, not for personal gain. He was an exemplar of probity, benevolence,
selflessness and courage. These are the
core values that must undergird the process of renewal in our nation.
Programme Director; Madiba’s greatest contribution
was on reconciliation and improving human relations between the former
oppressed and former oppressors. As our
country has entered a new era of renewal, we must return to Madiba’s core
values. We owe it to the new generation
and posterity to forge ahead and heal the divisions of the past.
We must reflect on his contributions as we strive
to build a more humane South African nation that espouses the principles of
Ubuntu and social cohesion. We must strive to uphold the vision and the values
that Madiba cherished for our nation to prosper.
We must all agree that basic education is at the
heart of building such a South African nation. In this regard, the teaching profession is a pivot
around which a cohesive society will emerge.
Failure is not an option.
Programme Director, teaching, and therefore education,
is so vital to our human progress as a people such that it requires the
collective effort of all of us. To
reinforce this point, our founding President Madiba said –
“Without education, your children can never really
meet the challenges they will face. So
it's very important to give children education and explain that they should
play a role for their country”.
It is therefore humbling, that tonight someone will
walk away with the Nelson Mandela Lifetime Achievement Award. This prestigious occasion, which is about the
celebration of excellence in the teaching profession, comes at a time when we
have a lot to celebrate and commemorate as a country, and as a people.
Consequently, the 18th National Teaching
Awards, occur on the year that our very own constitutional democracy celebrates
its 24th anniversary. Our Constitution
declares basic education as an inalienable basic human right for all South
Africans. The Constitution being the supreme law of the land, together with a
variety of local, continental, and international conventions, provides the
moral imperative and a mandate for the Government to make access to quality
educational opportunities widely available to all South Africans.
In the context of its founding values, our
Constitution must be viewed as an instrument for promoting the improvement of
the quality of life of all citizens; thus freeing the potential of each person.
Thus, it is the responsibility of all
South Africans to protect and advance the ideals of the Constitution without
fear, favour or prejudice.
We must without shame, and without retreat, fight
against the scourge of crime, corruption, State capture, and any other
malfeasance that does not advance all that is good for and about the Republic
of South Africa.
this regard, teaching is arguably the most critical profession in our endeavour
to build a new society. In a normative
sense, we all know that teaching is a profession, but those who take the plunge
and train as teachers, are actually answering a higher calling to bring light
to the nation. The contribution of
teachers to our lives, is invaluable and immeasurable.
ultimate vision of the National
Development Plan (NDP) is to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality
through inclusive growth by 2030. The NDP
identifies education as one of the key elements
in creating a better and more prosperous South Africa.
achieving the objectives of the broader developmental framework, basic education
has been identified as being a central component. This is due to the fact that education plays
an important role in building an inclusive society, which provides equal
opportunities for all through effort not accident of birth. It is only basic education that has a
potential of allowing all South Africans to realise their full potential,
particularly those from previously disadvantaged communities.
nation we can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people,
growing an inclusive economy, building a capable developmental State, and
promoting leadership and partnerships throughout the society. What brings us together is the overriding
commitment to a joint national effort to reconcile our nation and improve its people’s
are encouraged as a nation to reclaim the legacy and core values of Madiba by
ensuring that the teaching profession is a highly regarded for its
extraordinary and valuable contribution to society. We need to inject ample amounts of respect and
status back into this profession, similar to that which we learnt from this
Africa’s progress in navigating the transition from apartheid to democracy, was
built on the ability of leaders who put aside parochial interests in favour of
national interests. We need great patriots who will put South Africa first. To build
the South Africa that we all desire, we require leaders who put the country
first, to put the future ahead of today.
is empirically proven that nations that invest and value the profession of
teaching in public schooling in general have a greater chance to unlock
economical bottlenecks in the whole economic value chain.
urge all the school leaders to continue working hard through encouraging,
recruiting, training, and retaining new teachers by acting as good examples to
the new generation. At the same time,
how we recognise, honor, and show respect for our experienced educators will
reaffirm teaching as a profession of nation-builders and social leaders
dedicated to our highest ideals.
awards should encourage teachers to rededicate and recommit themselves to
quality learning and teaching. Teaching is a communal endeavour, and it is
vital that the different stakeholders play their part in promoting basic education.
As parents, teachers, community leaders, learners and ambitious students at
centres of higher education and training, we must work together to make 2018 a
conclusion, in honour of Madiba and other martyrs who sacrificed their lives so
that we can have have a better life, let us recommit ourselves to education. Let
us remember that in our pursuit of freedom and democracy during the struggle
for liberation in South Africa, we were inspired by the Freedom Charter, which
proclaimed that the Doors of learning
shall be opened to all.
is the promise that we made to the nation when we ushered in the democratic
rule. This is the promise that we shall keep. Let us join hands as we embark on
this journey of renewal.
I thank you.