Kgalema Motlanthe's keynote address

Kgalema Motlanthe, deputy-president of South Africa, delivered a keynote address to the 2011 National Teaching Awards, eulogising teachers and their profession. This is the second time Motlanthe graced the event, having attended the 2008 NTA held at the Presidential Guesthouse at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

He told the audience that “teaching is a calling to which an individual responds with deep conviction, motivated by the inner desire to contribute to the betterment of [the] human condition”.

He said communities relied on teachers as “socialising agents to imbue the next generation with norms and values”, adding that they are the legitimate custodians of the cultural elements that define society.

Motlanthe said the critical minds that learners develop as they mature and begin to question received wisdom and the dispassionate way in which they engage with their world, is a reflection of the successes of teachers.

“We would be lost without the supplementary role teachers play to acculturate our children so that they become better human beings armed with an abiding understanding of society and nature,” said Motlanthe.

Celebrating teachers
He said he hopes the awards would encourage more teachers to give their best to nurture learners into future leaders.

“We believe every teacher shoulders the aspirations of our nation and that they have it in them to bring the yearnings and dreams of our nation [to] fruition,” Motlanthe said.

He said the awards were about celebrating teachers “who have managed to rise above the rest, not in the spirit of cut-and-thrust competition but in the course of doing their work to the best of their ability, driven by passion, dedication and vision”. 

He said government has identified education as the apex of its priorities, adding that education is a “societal responsibility that requires we all work together with teachers to improve the standard of education”. Motlanthe said government and teacher unions also “need to work in concert to create an environment conducive to the culture of teaching and learning”.

“Once again we take this opportunity to congratulate the nominees on these prestigious and well-deserved awards with the express hope that even more educators will in time emulate these meritorious achievements.

We thank you for your commitment and encourage you to continue giving more to our children and sharing pearls of wisdom with other teachers.”

Other notable senior officials who gave gravitas to the occasion included, ANC national parliamentary chief whip Mathole Motshekga, minister of higher education and training Blade Nzimande, provincial ministers of education, SABC chief executive officer Lulama Makhubo,and Umalusi’s Mafu Rakometsi.

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