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5 October, 2007
World Teachers' Day
Message from Western Cape Education MEC Cameron Dugmore
Today, on World Teachers’ Day, all over the world in over 100 countries, we who represent Governments are reminded of the important role of teachers within society. Thanks in part to the efforts of Education International (EI) and its 348 member organisations, and all our local teacher unions and education activists, there is widespread global recognition of the profession.
Today we celebrate teachers and the central role they play in efforts to achieve quality education for all children. We celebrate across all continents, in towns and in villages, and we thank our teachers for their continued commitment to the profession, often in difficult circumstances.
This year was without a doubt a difficult year for Education in the country and in the Western Cape. The prolonged industrial action has impacted heavily on all of our lives. The main themes that refrained from across our teaching corps, were a decent working environment and a Living Wage.
Our teachers indicated that they needed more than verbal recognition of their dedication and of the demands that they face. They united to signal to the world that they needed tangible recognition of their unremitting efforts to hold the social fabric together. They indicated strongly that they needed to be acknowledged for their role as "educators" in the fullest sense of the word.
The industrial action has reminded us - the authorities - that we must continue to acknowledge the role of teachers in our society, and reaffirm the need to work together to better understand the issues.
A joint statement by the United Nations, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Education International, of which Thulas Nxesi from the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) is President, calls on all governments and unions to work together, "to ensure teachers are recruited, trained, and supported in ways that lead to a motivated, effective teaching force, able to contribute to our shared goal of achieving quality education for all children." [http://www.ei-ie.org/worldteachersday/en/index.php]
In April this year our Minister, Naledi Pandor has issued the National Policy Framework for Teacher Education and Development, which provides a clear and coherent policy for the recruitment, professional preparation and continuing professional development of teachers.
It is the first comprehensive official statement on the subject in South Africa's history, and takes its place as one of the most significant policy documents issued on teacher education since 1994.
Our core task remains to ensure that our learners acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to live fulfilling lives and contribute to community and economic development. To achieve this outcome, they deserve nothing but a competent, committed and imaginative teaching corps.
The Policy Framework makes provision for both initial professional education as well as continuing professional teacher development. Two broad pathways will lead to the first professional qualification for teachers, the first of which is the Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree.
The second is an appropriate first non-education degree (eg BA/BSc/Bcom) followed by an Advanced Diploma in Education (ADE). Both pathways are of equal status, and will lead to registration as an educator by the SA Council of Educators (SACE).
The continuing professional teacher development pathway will cater for both the conceptual and content knowledge, as well as pedagogical knowledge needs necessary for effective teaching and classroom practice.
The system will offer challenging opportunities for teachers to improve their professional abilities and raise learning standards in our classrooms. It makes provision for the implementation of a point system whereby teachers will be able to take responsibility for their own professional development.
The professional development of teachers enables teachers to develop further expertise in subject content, teaching strategies, uses of technologies, and other essential elements in teaching to high standards.
This new professional development points system is consistent with practices in many other professions, such as health and engineering, here and abroad. The professional development of teachers is evaluated ultimately on the basis of its impact on teacher effectiveness and student learning.
The Western Cape Education Department values and continues to invest in our teachers. Our Teaching Assistant initiative is attracting great support across the country and has received favourable reports from independent assessors.
Four-hundred-and-twenty members of the first intake of Teaching Assistants are enrolled for Year Two of a Certificate in Education and 90 new ones are enrolled in Year One.
Last month we have awarded 50 bursaries to assistants to complete their second year of study and we have secured 20 bursaries, via the ETDP SETA, for Teaching Assistants who want to tackle full-time study.
The WCED Teacher Bursary Programme has 97 bursars of whom 34 complete their studies this year. And 107 of the 420 Funza Lushaka bursars also qualify this year.
We are driving a steady teacher recruitment process through all our high schools. Our Cape Teaching Institute provides residential courses not only for teachers but also, increasingly, for HODs and school principals.
Our Employee Wellness Programme proves a valuable service. It offers, amongst other things, a toll-free, 24-hour telephone counseling service. The service provides expert counseling and advice on a wide range of issues relating to mental, emotional, physical, financial and legal help for our employees. Qualified, experienced counselors provide the service.
The adjusted salary scales we have been anticipating for so long are under final discussion at a national level and we look forward to exciting progress in this regard once settlement has been reached.
I have no reason to be anxious about the matric results for this year, of which the examinations are getting under way next Monday. The strike in June affected schooling for up to three weeks in communities that could least afford this disruption.
However, when a call was made on our teachers once the strike was over, they have rallied to catch up via extra revision programmes; tuition after school hours; on Saturday mornings; and at Winter and Spring schools during the holidays. Scores of principals have followed own initiative.
I believe the Western Cape is fully prepared for the exams, and I am confident that the extra effort put in by all concerned will make an important difference to the final results, but primarily thanks to the dedication of our teachers.
In conclusion: we know that when our family and social structures disintegrate, the teacher is often a safety net and guiding hand of a child destined for the streets, steering him away from a world of drugs and crime and waste. It is often our teachers who stand between social chaos and order.
On this World Teachers Day, I once again want to salute all of you who are diligently arriving on time for school, properly preparing for classroom lessons, conducting examinations and tests with integrity, and give hope to the future.
I Salute You…
For background information on World Teachers' Day visit:
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the MEC for Education
Tel: 021 467 2523
Fax: 021 425 5689
Visit our website: http://wced.wcape.gov.za
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