As is tradition, the department of basic education (DBE) hosted another glittering ceremony to celebrate the 19th National Teaching Awards (NTAs) at the Sandton Convention Centre on February 16 2019.
The awards ceremonies are held annually and bring together all key stakeholder involved in basic education to collectively recognise and affirm those teachers who are placed in the 11 prestigious NTA categories. These awards acknowledge the tireless work and roles played by teachers across the country. The nominees undergo a competitive and rigorous selection process, which starts at regional level.
All the country’s major teacher unions have endorsed the awards and have also seconded their representatives to be part of the adjudication team. Not only does this give legitimacy to the awards, but it also provides certainty about the openness and transparency of the selection process.
The theme for this year’s ceremony was “Democracy 25”, chosen to coincide with celebrations of the country’s two-and-a-half decades of being a democracy.
In her opening remarks, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga emphasised the significance of the awards. She said through the NTAs the DBE seeks to “shine a spotlight on dedicated and caring teachers”. She added that the department would not be able to achieve its objective of providing quality education to all learners without the selflessness and commitment of its teachers. Motshekga said that majority of teachers produce outstanding academic outcomes, despite the extraordinary and very difficult working conditions they work under.
“It is a great pleasure to host all of you as we pay tribute to our teachers. We have gathered here in recognition of the accomplishments of each of these individuals, who are responsible for shaping the lives of our children,” said Motshekga.
She believes teachers are on the frontline of the war against ignorance, poverty and backwardness, and that it is through their unrivalled passion and dedication that the education system is able to improve learner outcomes. Motshekga said her department is “doing everything in its power to ramp up our efforts” in improving its systems so that every learner in the basic education system is able to read, count, is digitally literate and can become a confident reader.
She also highlighted the fact that NTAs should not be seen in isolation or as a once-off event. Rather they are part of the broader Teacher Appreciation and Support Programme, “through which the department identifies, recognises and celebrates excellence in the teaching profession”, said Motshekga.
“Teachers are indeed the heartbeat of the nation. We thank you for making us to gather in this celebratory occasion, and we can all affirm that teachers will always occupy a special place in our basic education system. To all the teachers gathered here tonight, I would like to salute and encourage you to continue being trailblazers of excellence,” added Motshekga.
Every year the sitting state president delivers a keynote address to the finalists to highlight government’s commitment to education as one of its priority areas. Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, delivered this year’s keynote speech.
Other high profile dignitariesin attendance included Minister of Higher Education Naledi Pandor; Deputy Minister of the DBE Enver Surty; the DBE’s director general, Mweli Mathanzima, Adam Asmal (representing his family), former directors general of the department, heads of provincial education departments and sponsors.