This year’s celebration of World Teachers’ Day has “Teaching in freedom, empowering teachers” as theme, with the focus on the institutional autonomy and academic freedom of teachers. The United Nations celebrates the day internationally on 5 October but in South Africa this date falls in the school holiday. To ensure that teachers get the acknowledgement they deserve, the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) celebrates World Teachers’ Day in South Africa on the first Friday of the fourth term. This year the date is 13 October.
“Free and accesible education is the cornerstone of a successfull education system. The more children with access to quality education, the brighter a country’s future. Then, when children enter the system, they have to be in the hands of teachers who are equipped for the task, in other words educators who are well-trained and who can do their work in a system designed to support them,” says Dr Jaco Deacon, Deputy CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS).
The role of FEDSAS in the education chain is to equip governing bodies in order to contribute to quality education. “A well-managed school allows teachers the freedom to focus on education in the classroom. It is a governing body’s duty to create, through proper school governance, an environment that supports children and teachers in the learning process. Poor school governance has a long-term negative impact not only on the school and the school community, but also on the future of the learners and society in general. At the same time proper school governance is an investment in society and the future of the country.”
Freedom goes hand-in-hand with responsibility. Deacon says it is a school community’s duty to see to it that all education roleplayers, including children and teachers, are not merely satisfied with the minimum acceptable standard. “Free also refers to the professional freedom of educators to develop and transfer subject content creatively and not simply adhering to departmental workbooks or minimum curriculum outcomes.”
This year staff of FEDSAS’ national office in Bloemfontein will celebrate World Teachers’ Day at the Lettie Fouché School in the City of Roses. “We encourage all South Africans to celebrate their teachers on 13 October, irrespective of where they are. If you are close to your old school, visit or send a message. People are also welcome to share stories and memories on FEDSAS’ social media platforms, using the hashtag “ThanksTeacher.”
(FEDSAS is a voluntary association of school governing bodies of public schools and supports quality education in these schools. More than 2000 public schools are already members of FEDSAS).