Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has paid tribute to the role teachers have played in upholding the standard and quality of teaching and learning despite being confronted by the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Motshekga said this when she fielded oral questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday.
“I can’t stress the importance of teachers. Teachers are actually the education system. The system rests on their shoulders … They are very critical.
“But not only critical in making sure that we have learning and teaching, but in just the system under general. For instance, under COVID-19, we quickly had to get regulations in place to manage the situation like how we deal with teacher comorbidities and the many other challenges that we were confronted with for the first time,” she said.
Motshekga also commended the role played by teacher unions.
“Teacher unions were also magnanimous in many respects that were able, with their support, to conclude the collective agreement of 2020.
“They were able to assist us, through their structures, to monitor compliance in schools and advise us when things would go wrong but more than anything, they were part of the trimming of the curriculum and also most of the decisions that we had to take.
Motshekga said parents, through school governing bodies, have played an important role in supporting schools and advising the department. She said in some instances parents were also able to mediate where there were tensions between the department and teacher unions.
The minister said, meanwhile, when the pandemic brought learning to a ground halt, the department implemented a number of measures to improve the quality of teaching and learning as part of the department’s broader strategy as well as to help the education sector recover to save the academic year.
This included trimming the curriculum to ensure that there is a comprehensive curriculum recovery framework, as well as extending the academic year to 15 December to make sure the sector claws back lost time.
Motshekga also said the department’s Director General convenes weekly meetings with provinces to make sure the department can respond to realities on the ground.