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For teachers, the end of the third term is an indication that the year is almost done. It also brings to teachers the celebration of World Teachers’ Day (WTD) on 5 October 2015. As a sometimes unappreciated profession it is important that we highlight this day and month, since this year we in South Africa will celebrate teachers during the entire month of October.

The celebrations take place against the backdrop of the Annual National Assessments (ANA) stand-off. This stand-off sees NAPTOSA pitted against the senseless insistence of the Minister that the ANA, discredited and abused as it is, should still be written.

Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies” is the international World Teachers' Day slogan for 2015. It is recognized that teachers are not only a means to implementing education goals; they are the key to sustainability and national capacity in achieving learning and creating societies based on knowledge, values and ethics.

The chosen theme for WTD in South Africa is “Teachers: Heartbeat of the Nation”. Most will agree on how apt such a theme is, but also how hollow it rings when one looks at the conditions in which most teachers work and the constant badgering of NAPTOSA members at the hands of others. Lamentations aside, it is important to celebrate the profession, its achievements in South Africa, its struggles and challenges and to resolve to keep working at improving our lot and by extension, the lot of learners.

NAPTOSA, in celebrating both themes, takes from it a renewed commitment to tackle the growing concern of the health and in particular, the mental health of teachers and in so doing to advocate for greater and better organised counselling and psycho-social services for our members. We want school communities mobilised to better care for and show greater respect for teachers and education.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE), National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), the South African Council for Teachers (SACE), Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), Unions, and Social Partners (Private Sector) have collaborated in planning events to celebrate 2015 World Teachers’ Day. On 31 August 2015 the Minister of Basic Education launched the “Teacher Appreciation and Support Programme” (TASP). This sees a change from celebrating an event on one day, but rather a holistic, year-long programme that includes areas that affect teachers as people and professionals.

The recognition of WTD places on NAPTOSA a profound responsibility, one that demands that we acknowledge the struggles faced by teachers daily, one that forces us to re-evaluate our contribution to the profession, one that demands that we be critical thinkers and not compliant followers. It is this compliant culture that Minister Motshega is depending on. Ironically, it is the same compliant culture that the former regime depended on to sustain apartheid.

This is a clarion call to NAPTOSA members to support their union in the fight for greater rights, more accountability, greater protection and an end to assessment abuse.

I want to wish all members a restful break, a wonderful World Teachers’ Day and an inspirational Teacher Appreciation Month. It is hoped that this becomes a period of reinvigoration and celebration and a reminder of why you chose this noblest of professions as your own.

NAPTOSA salutes you the Teacher!

You are indeed ……… the Heartbeat of the Nation.

Basil Manuel

President

1 October 2015