TEACH South Africa honours heroes in educationby TEACH South Africa
TEACH South Africa honoured two of South Africa’s greatest supporters of education and all educators at an event held at the Sandton Sun in Johannesburg on October 6, 2009.
The dinner was an opportunity for TEACH South Africa to present business leaders Cyril Ramaphosa and Paul Harris with Private Sector Heroes in Education Awards for their continuing support and advancement of education in South Africa, as well as highlighting the work of the organisation and the TEACH Ambassadors.
Futhi Mtoba, chairperson of Deloitte Southern Africa and a founding member of TEACH South Africa, opened the dinner by expressing thanks to the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) for their visionary leadership and support in helping the organisation revitalise South Africa’s public education system.
Mtoba explained that despite the large amounts of money invested in education by both government and the private sector, there was still a lot to be done. Education, she pointed out, would go a long way to alleviating poverty in South Africa.
“Education begins with addressing poverty of the mind,” she said.
The dinner wasn’t just a chance to honour the role of teachers and individuals working in the education space by improving the education system, it was also an opportunity to discuss some of the major issues that face people involved in the education system in South Africa.
A panel comprising CEO of FirstRand Limited Paul Harris, retired principal David Wylde and independent consultant Dr Vuyelwa Penxa Toni discussed a few of the pressing issues that face education in South Africa.
Harris spoke about the skills and experience that business and the private sector can bring to schools and education.
“We have got organisational skills in business and we also have got logistical skills, and in that sense we can be partners by teaching people those skills,” he said.
He explained that businesses can “come to the party”, and assist the education sector, by bringing managerial skills to schools.
Harris also touched on the fact that historically, government hasn’t provided adequate education and so education has become a challenge for the wider community to address, and this is where business could bring people to address these challenges.
He said: “Business consists of people, so we can be part of the solution. It is important to create an enabling environment to encourage volunteerism.”
Wylde focused on the role of exemplary school leadership in public school excellence.
He cited research into the success of schools and found that the two most significant factors that are fundamental to effective schooling are the time spent on tasks in the classroom and an effective principal.
He mentioned his work with the Penreach Trust and how creating support structures that assist disadvantaged principals is incredibly successful in improving their leadership and problem-solving abilities.
“I do believe that retired principals working with the present principals have a lot to offer,” he said.
Penxa Toni spoke about how public schools are primary institutions for knowledge and skills empowerment.
She mentioned that there are structural and organisational challenges that need to be overcome in the South African education system, but that there has been progress in terms of improving education. She argued that there is still stigma against students that attend further education and training (FET) schools and colleges that this is something that needs to be changed.
She emphasised that today’s socially and economically disadvantaged learners would make up the majority of tomorrow’s workforce and that they depended on their education to create opportunities.
Gauteng Minister of Education Barbara Creecy spoke about the state of the education system and the lessons that the national and provincial departments of education have learned. She explained that government needs to give renewed attention to getting the basics right and how dealing with poverty will go a long way to improve the state of South Africa’s schools.
She applauded the work that TEACH South Africa is doing to actively empower teachers and learners by placing top recent graduates as TEACH Ambassadors in schools in Ekurhuleni in Johannesburg. She also acknowledged the work they do to encourage young people to become teachers and to improve the status of teachers in South Africa.
Following the panel discussion, awards for an outstanding commitment to education were presented to Harris and Ramaphosa.
Accepting the award on Ramaphosa’s behalf was Shanduka Energy Managing Director Phuti Malabie, who said it was an honour to receive the award on Ramaphosa’s behalf, as education was his passion.
The evening ended with a vote of thanks by Dr Mothomang Diaho, head of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Dialogue Programme and a co-founder of TEACH South Africa, who thanked everyone for taking time to attend the dinner and support the discussion on education.
She also thanked the TEACH South Africa sponsors and donors for their continued support.