Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has lauded teachers as the heartbeat of the education system, as the world celebrates World Teachers’ Day.
Held annually on 5 October since 1994, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 International Labour Organisation recommendation concerning the status of teachers.
“Teachers are indispensable to the system. We have over more than 400 000 teachers on the payroll of the State, serving more than 12 million learners, without whom the system would collapse.
“It is reality that teachers are and will remain the heartbeat of any basic education system in the world and we salute them for that,” said the Minister.
With the day set for reflection on the education, recruitment and employment conditions of teachers, Motshekga called for the support of teachers.
“As a country, we must do more to show appreciation to our teachers. Our teachers deserve extra support in both monetary and non-monetary measures for their tenacity and expertise,” she said.
Noting the challenges faced by those tasked with educating the budding brains of the country, Motshekga highlighted the improvement in the levels of education of teachers.
“The majority of our teachers build up their qualifications on the job, often over many years. In fact, by 2017, the number of unqualified teachers was less than 5 000, including the cohort of underqualified teachers.
“Nationally, the supply of newly qualified teachers has almost tripled over five years. It grew from 5 939 in 2008 to more than 25 877 in 2017,” said the Minister.
As a result of the improvement, a Centre for Development report concluded that if the number of teacher graduates continues to improve, South Africa will be able to produce sufficient teachers from 2015 to 2025.
With this year’s celebrations taking place under the cloud of COVID-19, Motshekga urged teachers to download the COVID Alert South Africa mobile phone app and the COVID Connect WhatsApp platform.
Using Bluetooth technology, the app alerts any user if they have been in close contact with any other user who has tested positive for Coronavirus in the past 14 days.
Anyone with a smartphone in South Africa can download the COVID Alert mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
The app has been zero-rated by mobile networks, so it can be downloaded without any data costs.
The Department of Health has also developed WhatsApp and SMS systems for people without smartphones to provide them with test results and alert them to any possible exposure to the virus.