‘You should call or message your former teachers today’

Posted on October 04, 2018

On World Teachers’ Day, Education Dean Prof Chika Sehoole shares his thoughts on the state of education training – and why SA’s educators should be treasured. 

American writer and educationist William Arthur Ward said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” World Teachers’ Day, commemorated globally on 5 October, is the perfect day for celebrating the teachers who’ve inspired us along our various paths to success. Tukkievaria spoke to Education Dean Prof Chika Sehoole about the day, and why it’s important to cherish and acknowledge a nation’s educators.

Why is World Teachers’ Day significant? 

World Teachers' Day is about appreciating, assessing and improving the educators of the world, as well as looking at issues related to teaching.

Many South Africans are despondent about the state of our classrooms, with regular coverage of attacks on both learners and their teachers. How do you encourage those who might be considering joining the profession, but are ambivalent given the often negative news coverage?  

We have indeed received despicable news about the happenings at our schools. The violence is totally unacceptable. I believe the government, in conjunction with stakeholders such as parents and law-enforcement agencies, should join hands to reduce the violence. I also believe the family institution has a role to play in guiding learners. 

What can individuals do to celebrate our country’s teachers? 

The best way to celebrate teachers is to show them respect and appreciation. I would advise staff and students at UP to send messages or call their former teachers, and let them know how much they appreciate what they’ve done for them, and how they’ve contributed to their personal growth.

Is the Education Faculty planning anything special to commemorate the day? 

The Faculty will host the American Best Teacher Award recipient as part of our celebrations. She will address our fourth-year teacher education students, and also spend some time working with SA’s Best Teacher Award applicants.

Given the negative news referred to earlier, what’s the current picture like regarding enrolments for UP teaching programmes in 2019?

The Faculty broke its own record by meeting the applications and admissions targets for 2019. By 30 September, we had received 4,302 undergraduate applications and admitted 2,365. Given a 50% realisation rate, this translates to at least 1,182 registrations in January 2019. This is a big improvement from 2017, when we failed to meet our targets. I want to thank our Recruitment Manager, Dr Rakgadi Phatlane, who spearheaded the innovative strategy of using manual forms to recruit students in rural areas, and was also the driving force behind the partnership with the Department of Basic Education. Students recruited through the DBE campaign will be funded by the Department of Education. Postgraduate numbers have not been finalised. 

- Author Shakira Hoosain

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