Beyond 5 October: World Teachers’ Year

The NECT is excited to be working with the DBE and other key stakeholders on a programme designed to care for, and support, our teachers beyond World Teachers’ Day.

World Teachers’ Day has been recognised and celebrated since 1994 globally, and since 1999 in South Africa. This day is devoted to celebrating and appreciating teachers around the globe for the vital role they play in shaping society.

UNESCO views this day as a token of awareness, understanding and appreciation for all teachers, while Education International (EI) encourages all countries to participate in this initiative.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has embraced the concept of World Teachers’ Day beyond 5 October by embarking on a year-long programme that aims to support South Africa’s teachers. Working together with the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), the South African Council for Educators (SACE), the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) and Education, Teacher Unions, Higher Education and business community – the DBE hopes to provide meaningful support to teachers and to deliver on Chapter Nine of the National Development Plan (NDP). This chapter outlines government’s improvement imperatives with regards to teachers. It states that we have to build qualified, professional, competent and committed teachers and build a professional culture. The NECT supports these initiatives and is working to create professional teachers working in an elevated profession and appreciates the spirit of collaboration between key stakeholders that will ensure that teachers are cared for and looked after.

Supporting the heartbeat of our nation

From this year on, World Teachers’ Day in South Africa will be more than “feel-good” activities on the day.  On 31 August Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga launched the programme – referred to as the Teacher Appreciation and Support Programme (TASP) – in her address at the First Annual Teachers Indaba. The DBE, together with all partners, will be running TASP – year-long programme that is designed to mitigate the specific challenges that teachers face and promote a deeper appreciation and understanding of their role. The programme will operate under the theme: “Teachers, the Heartbeat of the Nation” to demonstrate that: “Teachers are an extremely important part of any society for many reasons.  Teachers educate the youth of society; the youth in turn become the citizens, parents, and leaders of the next generation.   Teachers teach children and pass on knowledge, skills, values and attitudes in their most impressionable years; what children learn from their teachers at a young age will most likely stay with them in some way for the rest of their lives.”

Targeted programmes and activities

This year-long effort aims to improve teacher morale, attract qualified teachers to the profession, reduce absenteeism and promote teamwork. 

Activities will be built into existing programmes in the educational sphere to support teachers and encourages provinces, districts and schools to use any of their proposed activities. These activities include, but are not limited to, a special assembly honouring teachers, encouraging learners to show their appreciation by giving gifts to their teachers, a social function specifically for teachers, and asking religious organisations to hold special services for the teachers in their group.

Specific programmes will also target specific challenges – relating to stress, health and finances – that teachers face. These challenges will be mitigated through activities, seminars, services and interventions.

The programme will include financial wellness seminars, tips and encouragement on physical activities and wellness, health services and education, nutrition services and counselling, psychological and social services.

In addition to the abovementioned interventions, School Management Teams (SMTs) are in place to take an active role in the daily lives of teachers and create a culture of caring for teachers. SMTs are therefore encouraged to acknowledge good work, to be available 24/7, to build relationships outside of work and care about teachers’ personal lives and ensure that teachers are informed and aware of their rights and privileges.

Filling the void with gratitude

By mitigating the challenges teachers face, actively caring for their wellbeing and proving to them that the nation appreciates their work, we’ll draw closer to professionalising teaching in an environment where in some instances teacher morale might be low, teacher financial and physical health is a concern and absenteeism defeats the purpose of many of the interventions aimed at educational reform.

The truth is that the time is exactly right for a targeted campaign off the back of a day designed to honour teachers. There has long been a lack of expression of gratitude towards those individuals who work despite the personal resource-related challenges they face.

This initiative will go a long way to bridge that gap, but only if all parties are willing to work to realise this vision will it be possible to fill the appreciation void with gratitude.

Watch out for more information regarding World Teachers’ Day 2015.

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