Despite the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic that deeply affected learning and teaching across the country, particularly in underdeveloped communities, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) successfully hosted the 8th National Education Excellence Awards (NEEAs)
The prestigious annual event shifted from celebrating individuals, but instead honoured and celebrated the best districts and schools.
This year’s ceremony was held at Coastlands Hotel, uMhlanga, Durban, on Thursday, April 7, under the theme: Celebrating Excellence in Districts and Schools and building back better with integrity.
In her opening address, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga commended teachers for their strength and resilience during the hurricane of Covid-19.
“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that we survived the hurricane of Covid-19 because we had men and women of integrity at the helm of our basic education system. These men and women understand the English maxim that one must try not to become a man of success but a man/woman of value. Today, we converge here on the shores of the Indian Ocean to honour men and women of value, the best amongst us. In them, we see the best of ourselves,” she said.
Motshekga added that victory means that each South African child would have access to high-quality basic education irrespective of the school’s location in every corner of our homeland.
“Our purpose is to ensure that every child, regardless of their parents’ socio-economic status, has sufficient stationery, nutritious food, books, a qualified teacher, decent sanitation, and the care they need in a secure school environment.”
She further stated that this year’s NEEAs shifted the focus away from the brilliance of individual teachers to celebrate the heroic acts performed at the school and district levels by teams.
“The district directors carry the entire nation’s expectations on their broad shoulders. District directors carry the dreams, hopes and anxieties of some 12 million learners, their parents, caregivers, and over 300 000 teachers.
“We no longer celebrate individuals’ exploits of teachers as we do in the National Teaching Awards, nor do we celebrate what anybody did in the preceding year. Instead, we look at the continuum of time and spots where excellence has become a habit, passion drives success, and many hands make light work. This is the character of our winners today. In other words, we celebrate teams, passion and teamwork,” said Motshekga.
She congratulated the district directors and all the principals.
“These awards aren’t akin to the famous Lotto slogan: phusha, phanda play. We are not taking chances here but building a nation, one lesson at a time. To the ultimate winners, we say, go forth and conquer the world.The world is truly your oyster. Keep Up Your Excellent Work,” concluded Motshekga.