Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has praised teachers, calling them the heartbeat of the education system, as the world celebrates World Teachers’ Day.
This year's theme is “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future".
Every year on the 5th of October since 1994, World Teachers’ Day honours the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 International Labour Organisation recommendation on 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.
It’s a day to reflect on the education, recruitment and employment conditions of SA’s teachers, said Motshekga, calling 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.
Tackling the challenges our teachers face in 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.
A Centre for Development report concluded that, because of this improvement in education, South Africa will be able to produce enough teachers to teach the country’s youth from 2015 to 2025.
With this year’s celebrations taking place during the lockdown, Motshekga urged teachers to download SA’s Covid Alert app and join 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.