Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that now was the time that teachers rebooted and rebuilt the education sector which had suffered a huge blow due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The minister hosted the 21st National Teaching Awards on Wednesday, recognising the teachers who had taken initiatives to help children cope with online learning during the pandemic and making sure that they did not fall behind.
President Cyril Ramphosa, who also attended the awards ceremony, was extremely concerned about the high dropout rate and challenged teachers to ensure that at least 75% of this year’s pupils stayed in school.
“It is a common good and what you are doing, you are contributing towards a common good – it doesn’t have lots of money,” the minister said.
Minister Motshekga reminded teachers of the huge responsibility and role that they played in the country’s economy, now more than ever. Motshekga said that COVID-19 had been giving teachers “sleepless nights” as they realised that if the quality of education dropped, it could create a huge regress for the entire country.
“When the education system collapses, society regresses to chaos,” she said.
President Ramaphosa called teachers “economic activists”, encouraging educators to help the rest of the country through teaching the next generation the right skills required to boost the economy.