Speech delivered by Mugwena Maluleke, the Vice President for EI on the World Teachers Day hosted by Department of Education of the Kwazulu-Natal, Durban

5 October 2015

Programme Director,
MEC for education in KZN, Ms Nkonyeni in absentia
All the Leaders of the Trade Unions present
COSAS Provincial Secretary
SACE and ELRC representatives
All Teachers present today
All invited guests
The school leadership
All protocols observed

We bring you warm greetings from the more than 32 million teachers and education personnel in the world.

We are truly humbled by your presence in this celebration hosted by the DOE in the beautiful province of KZN.

I feel awesomely honored and privileged indeed to stand before you today as the teachers of our country. It is a great honour for me to be amongst you, the builders of our nations.

This year`s World Teachers` Day (WTD) celebrations on October 5 highlight the importance of empowering teachers as a critical step towards quality education and sustainable societies, under the UNESCO Slogan, "Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies"

WTD acknowledges that teachers are not only instrumental in implementing education goals, they are the key to sustainability and national capacity in achieving learning and creating societies based on knowledge, values and ethics.

World Teachers` Day, held annually on October 5 since 1994, commemorates teachers` organizations worldwide. Its aim is to mobilize support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers.

According to UNESCO, World Teachers` Day represents a significant token of the awareness, understanding and appreciation displayed for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development.

As we celebrate this day therefore, We are truly inspired by your courage, motivation, dedication, passion, compassion, commitment and above all your daily sacrifices in building a prosperous nation. You continue to inspire our young people who come to you thirsty for knowledge, intrinsically driven to wear positive attitude and inspired to acquire skills .

You are an inspiration to the young and old who without you might have lost hope because of the grinding poverty they face on a daily basis. You are the hope of our people because your motive is to create a learning nation that lives in peace.

We thank you for your work and the vision you are driving to build self standing human beings. We celebrate you today because you are teachers, you are social workers, nurses, doctors and everything to our children in your care. We thank you today for your courage in the face of attacks by those who lack the appreciation of the unbearable conditions you sometimes find yourselves. We thank you, our teachers for fighting for better conditions because your fight is driven by your deep love for your people. We thank you for being the voice of the voiceless as members of the trade union movement.

We celebrate you, our teachers because your profession is the mother of all professions. We do this fully aware of the systematic attacks directed at the teachers instead of appreciating you.

We celebrate you for fighting the improvement of sustainable ECE because you are the ones who know that education is a liberation tool. Because you, the teachers know that access to early childhood education is a fundamental human right.

We honour you for standing up against de-professionalization of our noble profession through standardized testing in the world and here in our country. Teaching for testing is undermining the your professional autonomy. Teaching for testing only, undermines our children` right to quality education. Teaching for tests denies our children and their teachers the opportunity to interrogate the curriculum. It reduces the children into objects instead of empowering them to become subject of their own destination. Teaching for test is miseducation and must fought vigorously to protect the future of our children. No one must jeopardize the future of these young people because our future is our children.

Our learners deserve quality teaching by quality teachers. No learner in the world must be taught by a hungry and overworked teacher. No learner in the world and this country deserves to be taught by a teacher who has no house. No child in the world and in this country deserves to be taught by a demotivated and demoralized teacher. No child deserves to be taught by a demeaned teacher by those who want you to write the same tests your learner is writing. This is insulting to the teachers and must be rejected with contempt. Subjecting teachers to this unprofessional treatment is driven by neo-liberal war declared against the profession globally.

We celebrate you the teachers of our country, you the Spring who nurtures new green sprouts, You who spent your time encouraging and leading these new sprouts whenever they have doubts about their future.

You the providers of the sunny temperament that makes studying a real pleasure, we celebrate You the preventers of discontent, You the nation builders using well thought methods crisp and clear, we honor You for your bright colorful lessons that give hope to the despaired, we thank You for your efforts in making happy environments for the young and old. We are inspired by you the teachers who keep us warm, comfortable and dignified. We say thank you for your passion and compassion, For your vision and selflessness.

As we celebrate we also wish to acknowledge the work done by many other stakeholders in education which led to the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal. President Zuma`s leadership in the global space which led to the adoption of Goal4 as a standalone goal should be appreciated. His commitment to education is informed the freedom charter on making education free and compulsory. This followed tough consultations and lobbying at a global platform which unions in our country and government influenced greatly.

The Global Thematic Consultation on Education in the Post-2015 Development Agenda states the essentials for supporting teachers` effectiveness:

  1. good conditions of employment, including appropriate contracts and salaries, and prospects for career progression and promotion;
  2. good conditions in the work environment, based on creating school contexts that are conducive to teaching;
  3. high-quality pre-and in-service training for teachers, based on respect for human rights and the principles of inclusive education; and
  4. effective management, including teacher recruitment and deployment.

The international community and governments need to stand united to support teachers and quality learning worldwide, more especially in those countries where the highest number of out-of-school children exists.

On the 26 September this year the UNGA has adopted Goal 4 for education with ambitious targets. The world leaders have committed to "ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems".

In order to achieve these ambitious targets the world will need to recruit a total of 12.6 million primary teachers.

The following targets will require that all of us adopt strategies to ensure effective implementation.

  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes
  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education
  • By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university
  • By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship
  • By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy
  • By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture`s contribution to sustainable development
  • Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all
  • By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries
  • By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states

As we call for the empowerment of teachers, we remind ourselves that The locus of our political programme is still the abolishment of class, race and patriachical relations of power as interrelated antagonistic social contradiction. This abolishment is further informed by the government`s resolve to underwrite any policy that strives to realise:

  • a united state based on the will of all the people, without regard race, sex, belief, language, ethnicity or geographic location;
  • a dignified and improving quality of life among all the people by providing equal rights and opportunities to all citizens;
  • and the restoration of the birthright of all South Africans regarding access to land and other resources.
  • a society based on the best in human civilisation in terms of political and human freedoms, socio- economic rights, value systems and identity.

The building of sustainable societies asserts that Life is about growth, and to grow we need a guide, a mentor, a Teacher. A teacher is a guide who has been down the path before us. Man has been on this planet for a vey long time and in each generation has been a teacher to the next generation. Imagine if each generation could not teach and communicate its learning to the following generation. It is the relationship of Teacher and Student which enabled early Man to take the twig and create the flute and then the wheel. Man has learned well to teach and to learn and thus to constantly build on the knowledge which our teachers have taught us.

Empowering teachers acknowledges the critical role of teachers and education in the development of the society.

This international slogan implores on all teachers to appreciate that the Shifting tasks confronting our country will continue to redefine our professional role In the South African political landscape,

It calls on the government to confront the unequal structure of society as a product of apartheid colonialism in our teaching.

It is indeed a clarion call for teachers to remain agents for change as we reassert your uncompromising focus on using education as liberation of the mind tool.

It is a call to deepen Your pro-poor transformation trajectory that the country has adopted.

It is indeed a call for teachers in response to the catastrophic social engineering consequences as a result of a curriculum transformation that is Bantu education system-decorated.

It is a call that recommit yourselves as teachers to your mission to create an education system that consolidate a developmental state agenda.

This commitment is necessary because the knowledge consumerist culture of our society has led to a growing dependency on policies that are developed outside countries like SA and yet expected to thrive in this country. Whilst some of the policies find theoretical resonance with teachers, it is the practical implications of these policies to learners and parent environment that make them suspect in terms of achieving set outputs. Thats why the critical need to create a policy analysis and making capacity within and for our ranks in the ensuing period.

The WEF`s conclusion on mathematics and science performance by our country is based on the opinions of the captains of industry in collusion with IMF and World Bank. These international bodies are vandalizing the public education in order to create a market for edupreneurs who are selling education. WEF wants to create a conducive environment for privatization in and of education. They are the proponents of these disastrous testing for learners and hoping to test the teachers in the future.

This call therefore makes the following demands:

Commitment by the government to improve the salaries of teachers

  • A commitment by government to invest in the recruitment of high calibre students as candidates for teaching
  • A commitment by government to embark on an intensive continuous teacher professional development
  • A commitment by all of us to create safe and conducive learning and teaching environments
  • A commitment by government and business to invest in the provision of the necessary financial resources to improve schools infrastructure
  • A commitment by government to include teachers in the development of the curriculum
  • A commitment by government to improve the working conditions for teachers through collective bargaining .
  • A commitment to deal decisively with ill discipline e in schools
  • A commitment to deal decisively with violence in the schools
  • A commitment to guarantee access to an estimated 58 million children who are not going to school and around 100 million children who do not complete primary education.
  • A commitment to address obstacles that have resulted in some 250 million children leaving school without learning to read, write or count,
  • A commitment to address conditions such as lack of basic reading and writing skills to an estimated 782 million adults, 64 per cent of whom are women
  • A commitment to fight against the MacDonaldisation of education through privatization in and of education.

This means Privatization and Commercialization in and of Education to control, to enforce predictability, to promote mechanization of teaching in the name of calculability and the cutting of education budgets by shouting efficiency

  • The investment in teacher development as asserted by Chris Day when explaining teacher development as " the process by which, alone and with others teachers review, renew and extend their commitment as change agents to the moral purpose of teaching; and by which they acquire and develop critically the knowledge, skills and emotional intelligence essential to good professional thinking, planning and practice with children, young people and colleagues throughout each phase of their teaching lives,"
  • Finally a commitment by all of you as teachers in particular to teach the skills to our learners to learn to KNOW, to learn to DO and to leave to LIVE TOGETHER.

We thank the DOE for the decision to involve the teachers in the celebrations because this day is about you. We thank the MEC, HoD, Trade Unions, the officials and all teachers and education personnel,