Provincial Teacher Awards 2014
It is my very great pleasure and privilege to join you all this evening, at the 15th annual Provincial Teaching Awards ceremony, to celebrate and recognise the achievements of our educators in the Province. Tonight is extra special for me as it is the first Provincial Teaching Awards to take place during my term of office.
Tonight I join you all in celebrating excellence in teaching and to honour some of the outstanding educators who inspire and motivate our children every day.
The role of a teacher in a child’s life cannot be overemphasised. Teachers have learners in their care for hours every day. What you do, what you say and how you conduct yourselves influence those children. That is a lot of power you have in your hands.
And so it is important to acknowledge quality, excellence and professionalism in the education sector. That is why we attach such great importance to these awards.
Being a teacher requires much more than just delivering a quality curriculum for our learners. Many of our teachers have to face on-going challenges such as poverty, gang violence, abuse and crime. Often our teachers are not recognised for the important roles they play in our schools and the lives of our children.
As with any profession, you have the bad, the average, the good and the great. Tonight we are celebrating the great.
We are very fortunate in the Western Cape to have many educators who continue to go selflessly beyond the call of duty to ensure that their learners receive the best quality education. We will unfortunately not be able to recognise all of them tonight, but I want them to know that their efforts are sincerely appreciated.
The actions of one principal at a school that I recently visited particularly stood out for me. Sadly, we were informed that the day before we visited the school, the principal’s son who was an educator himself, had passed away after a long battle with cancer.
The principal was not able to meet me at the school, which I completely understood, but what I was amazed to learn is that he had come to the school that morning to ensure that everything was in order for his matric learners to write their exam on time. Only then did he inform the staff of his tragic news.
Now I don’t expect that of anybody, but I was really struck by the incredible commitment and dedication of this principal in the face of his personal tragedy. My sincere condolences go to him and his family.
Now, back to this evening’s celebration!
Each of the 38 educators who are here tonight has demonstrated commitment and dedication to the teaching profession. I congratulate each of you on being finalists in this competition.
I sat reading through the candidate motivations of some of the nominees and I was delighted to see the unmistakable FLAIR that emerged in each of you.
FLAIR is an acronym for the following traits:
- F - Foresight
- L - Leadership
- A - Accountability
- I - Initiative
- R – Responsibility
“F” for Foresight - this is required in order to plan ahead, foresee different scenarios, and make contingency plans. It is developed through conscious efforts and experience and is an essential trait for leaders in our schools. One such example is of an educator sitting here tonight that believes planning and structure is key in striking a balance between an administrative role and being a brilliant teacher, and who believes that it is important to stay a few steps ahead of learners.
“L” for Leadership – In each candidate’s motivation that I read, there were many examples of outstanding leadership and contributions from Educators across the province. It excites me to see how many of you have run new and innovative programmes in your schools. One of the most remarkable qualities of a good leader is that they develop new leaders. Many of you have done this by ensuring your staff and colleagues attend courses and further training on management and leadership development. I am also overwhelmed to see how many of you go above and beyond the call of duty and work with parents and the community to develop their skills. This whole of society approach is what is required to take us forward and make a real difference in our province and society.
“A” for Accountability – Accountability is defined as “responsibility to someone or for some activity”. When considering your accountability as an educator, we relate it to your responsibility for your learners and their learning progress. Each of you sitting here today has taken ownership of your learners and their performance. A number of you are going that extra mile to acquaint yourself with your learners’ personal and domestic circumstances and in turn tailoring your teaching methods to the learner’s individual needs. This is no small feat.
“I” for Initiative – Initiative can be described as ‘the power or opportunity to act or take charge before others’. In an ever changing and diverse education system, it is important that you are able to think for yourselves and find different ways of working and thinking more creatively. One such example is of an educator who transforms ordinary practices into extra-ordinary experiences. This educator thinks out the box and has changed the way not only the school operates, but the district too.
Finally, “R” for Responsibility - A mark of strong character is an individual’s sense of responsibility to oneself and to the community. Many of you sitting here today have not only taken responsibility for your learners and schools but also for the surrounding communities. We have seen in many of our schools, once plagued by vandalism, where the communities have taken ownership of the school, there has been a massive reduction in the cases of vandalism reported. One such example is an Educator sitting here today who through participation in many community organisations, has actively and successfully dealt with the impact and effects of social challenges that learners of the school experience. This educator’s relentless tackling of social challenges in the local community has resulted in the binding of the community into a close knit unit, with the school as its core.
As the new Provincial Minister, I am so pleased to see that we have such committed and dedicated educators. Every child deserves a teacher who will not give up on them, will see their potential, and will encourage them to be the very best that they can be.
I am truly inspired by the calibre of candidates sitting before me today.
Tonight’s celebration is, of course, not the end of this process. I should sincerely like to wish all our winners
I would like to thank you all once again, for your contribution towards excellence in our schools. Education is fundamental in any society, and whether our learners receive a good education or a bad education can determine the rest of their lives.
I hope you will always continue to have the passion, commitment and resilience that you have shown thus far and that together we can make a huge impact on our province and our country.
Thank you and good luck.