“The transformation of education begins with teachers” – 2022 World Teachers’ Day theme

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU), the country’s biggest union in education fully embraces and celebrates World Teachers’ Day. The Day is celebrated to acknowledge and appreciate the teachers for the role they play in developing learners to become better citizens and make formidable contributions to their immediate communities and society in general.

 The theme – The transformation of education begins with teachers – is correct.  One of the few positives from the Covid 19 pandemic crisis was that it gave further undisputable proof that teachers are indeed the main drivers of our education systems. Without teachers, it is impossible to provide an equitable and quality education system to every learner. Teachers rose to the occasion and showed their mettle and devised ways to keep in touch with their learners under the difficult circumstances.

Even in countries with advanced technologies where learners could learn online, the teacher still proved to be valuable to ensure that the system worked. In South Africa where most schools are not technologically advanced, teachers had to come up with innovative ways to keep in touch with learners to ensure learning continued. Teachers who were also traumatised by the pandemic as they lost their colleagues and family members had to become counsellors and give support to the learners and fellow colleagues.

Teachers, as agents of change in the education system, need to be trained, motivated, supported, professionalised in order to execute their roles which are becoming more than being a mere teacher in front of the class in this rapidly changing world.

Teachers are rarely consulted in decision-making and policy formulation processes and yet they have a lot to offer as they are at the coalface.  Their voice needs to be heard and supported. When teachers complained that the Annual National Assessment (ANA) was not making a meaningful contribution to teaching, the Department of Education was reluctant to listen to them. SADTU as a union that cares for quality public education, put pressure and after months of wrangling, the Department finally relented. When Minister Angie Motshekga addressed the Union’s National General Council, she conceded that our fight against ANA was helpful. It caused the Department to really go back and look at ANA and, in the end, saw the light and scrapped it.

As we celebrate World Teachers’ Day 2022 in South Africa, teachers do not feel safe at their places of work. They are physically and verbally attacked by learners, parents, and communities inside schools. Instilling discipline among learners is becoming a daily struggle.

We believe the basis for a good education system is a strong early childhood development foundation. Many institutions and teachers who are offering Early Childhood development education, have recently been incorporated into the Department of Basic from the Department of Social Development. We welcomed the move as we had always raised the fact that it is an anomaly that such a crucial component that builds the foundation for learners was not under the control of the Department of basic education.

We call on the Department to increase investment in capacitating educators in Early Childhood Development and improve their conditions of service to be in line with other teachers. Their status and level or remuneration do not inspire one to strive to the best of their abilities.

We will never stop to call on government to improve the conditions of service by employing more teachers in order to reduce class sizes, improve school infrastructure and provide psycho-social support to teachers.

To teachers, you are role models to learners and communities you come from; continue to show up, be professional, be on time, prepared and work!

Happy World Teachers’ Day.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

CONTACT: General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157