16th Annual Provincial Teaching Awards 2015

The below is an extract of Minister Debbie Schafer’s speech delivered on Friday 6th November 2015 at the Western Cape’s 16th Annual Provincial Teaching Awards.

‘The last year has certainly been an eventful one, and I suspect that the next will be too.  We have had ANA confusion, I have been locked in a school, we have had a Matric pupil driving the bus to school and we have on-going protests for incredibly different reasons.  We have a huge financial crisis and a lot of work to do still in this province to improve education.

But among all this, I am very pleased to still be here at my second Annual teaching Awards, which is the 16th Annual Provincial Teaching Awards Ceremony.  I think it is important, amongst all the daily concerns, to take some time to relax and enjoy ourselves and celebrate the good things, which tonight are the excellent educators in the Province.

It has been said, “The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, and the great teacher inspires”, so we have a lot of inspiration in the room this evening.  These are the teachers who do not need to hear comments like the following:

Teacher: Craig, you know you can’t sleep in my class.

Craig:  I know, but maybe if you were a little quieter, I could”.

I believe that it is important to recognise and celebrate the invaluable work of our teachers in this province.

And there is no better place to do this than at this ceremony surrounded by the ‘best in the business’ or should I say the ‘best in the Western Cape’, which generally means the same thing!

So tonight I look forward to celebrating with you and honouring some of the outstanding educators who inspire and motivate our children every day.

A great teacher lives by a few basic principles, to be the best teacher that they can be and to serve as a worthy role model for the learners in their care.  This of course involves being fair, but given that children are so clever, you need to be careful.  One day a child asked his teacher – “would you punish me for something I didn’t do?”.  “Of course not”, said the teacher.  “Good”, he said, “because I didn’t do my homework”!

A great teacher is someone who goes beyond the call of duty, who stretches the boundaries, and who sees the value in teaching illiterate parents to read.

A great teacher encourages learners to expect the best of themselves despite their socio-economic backgrounds.

An excellent teacher is someone who works patiently with special needs learners, who works hard every day to ensure that our learners receive excellent education suited to their special needs, and that as many learners as possible are taught skills that will enable them to take up their place as contributing members of society, and to reach their full potential.

An excellent teacher is someone whose passion for difficult subjects such as maths and science, rubs off on the learners and who inspires his or her learners to do better and be better.

An excellent teacher works hard to create a bond of mutual respect between teacher and learner and considers the learners different strengths, weaknesses, abilities and background when doing so.

It is also important for me that our excellent teachers understand the vital leadership role they play in their schools and communities, and that they work together with us to improve education and instil good values in our children, including respect for others, respect for property and upholding the law.

It goes without saying that our excellent teachers are our most important resource.

We must do everything possible to support our teachers, especially those who are committed to making a difference in very difficult circumstances.

I must say that we are very fortunate in the Western Cape to have so many educators who continue to go selflessly beyond the call of duty to ensure that their learners receive the best quality education.

This year we received 167 nominations for the Provincial Awards.

Tonight sitting before me are 59 nominees, 59 excellent teachers, and 59 of our provinces top teachers, who have demonstrated commitment and dedication to the teaching profession – and I must say that after reading through many of the nominee profiles, that this year we had an especially high calibre of nominees. It was therefore a great challenge to choose 10 awards winners from the list of dedicated, committed and outstanding teachers.

So tonight, to all the nominees, I honour you, the Department honours you, the Western Cape Government honours you, and we thank you for dedicating your lives to education.

Each and every one of you has had some impact on changing the lives of our learners and so contributing to change in our communities and in this province.  Education is fundamental in any society, and whether our learners receive a good education or a bad education can determine the rest of their lives. Teachers are in fact the creators of all professions.  As they say – if you can read, thank a teacher.

There is a quote by Donald D Quinn that says ‘If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.’

This is perhaps why I changed my mind in Grade 8 from wanting to be a teacher to wanting to be a lawyer!

But I have also seen for myself over the last year some of the rewards.  I have seen such a hunger for learning from tiny children to progressed Matrics attending Spring School to try and pass their exams.  Another one of those sayings is that “a teacher takes a hand, opens a mind and touches a heart”.  It is also a great privilege to be able to touch so many hearts and open so many minds every day.  And I have seen when you do that how the children react.  I have had my heart touched a few times this last year, and for those who know me that is not an easy thing to do.  So maybe my decision to be a lawyer was not such a good one after all.  At least now I get to experience some of this privilege when I do school visits.

Of course, I don’t need to tell anyone in this audience about the real meaning of the word sacrifice. You are here this evening because you make great sacrifices day in and day out so that you can improve education in your field of expertise, in your school and in this province.

I could not be prouder to stand here tonight and to take part in the awards ceremony to recognize your outstanding loyalty and devotion to our learners.

Tonight’s celebration is, of course, not the end of this process. I should sincerely like to wish all our winners the best of luck in the National round of the teaching awards.  It would be fantastic to see some Western Cape winners!  Regardless, you are all winners in our eyes already.

I hope you will always continue to have the passion, commitment and resilience that you have shown thus far and that together we can make a huge impact on our province and our country.

I would like to thank all nominees that are here tonight for their dedicated, caring and professional service and for your contribution towards excellence in our schools.

And let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to all those who have worked so hard throughout the year to make this great event possible Eddie Kirsten, Gavin De Bruin, and all WCED Officials involved in the adjudication process.  Thank you very much for everything that you do and I hope you have an enjoyable rest of the evening.

Thank you and Good Luck.’


Summary of Process –  Provincial Teaching Awards Process – 2015

Aim of Awards:

The awards acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of teachers who excel, often under difficult circumstances. They provide a crucial service to our children, many whom live in poor communities.


The awards are presented annually at both provincial and national level. The rigorous adjudication process culminates in a prestigious Awards Ceremony, where the provincial winners are announced by the provincial Minister of Education.

The 2015 provincial awards Ceremony will be held at the West Campus Building, Mutual Park, in Pinelands on the 06 November 2015.


The awards recognize excellence in the following categories:

  • Excellence in Primary School Teaching
  • Excellence in Secondary School Teaching
  • Excellence in Grade R Teaching
  • Excellence in Special Needs and Inclusive Teaching
  • Excellence in Technology –Enhanced Teaching and Learning Award
  • Excellence in teaching Mathematics (GET)
  • Excellence in teaching Natural Sciences (GET)
  • Excellence in Primary School Leadership
  • Excellence in Secondary School Leadership
  • Lifetime Achievement Award  (Minimum of 30 years without a break of service in a public school/centre in South Africa)


The process started with the WCED calling on the school communities to nominate excellent teachers that excel in their area of expertise as per the categories above.

The nominations were received by the Districts that are clustered together in 6 clusters, i.e.

Metrople North &  Metrople East Education Districts;

Metropole South & Metropole Central Education Districts;

Eden & central Karoo Education District

Cape Winelands Education District;

Overberg Education District;

West Coast Education District.

The District clusters adjudicate on the nominations received and identify the local winners. Die panel is made up of retired school principals and teachers district officials. Teacher Unions are also represented on the adjudication panels.

The district clusters announced the winners at centralized cluster functions.  The names of the cluster winners are forwarded to a provincial panel that identifies the provincial winners. The provincial is also made up of retired school principals and teachers district officials. Teacher Unions are also represented on the adjudication panels.

Awards received:

The WCED awarded certificates of excellence to cluster winners, along with an ICT voucher to be redeemed at a reputable ICT provider. In addition to the prizes awarded, the schools of the finalists will also receive R 5 000 that must be used towards professional development of the whole teaching staff.

The provincial winners will also receive certificates of excellence, along with ICT vouchers to be redeemed at a reputable ICT provider, the value of the vouchers at provincial level:

Winners – R 12 000

Runners-up – R 7 000

In addition winning schools will each receive R 7 500 that must be used for professional development for the whole teaching staff.

Nominations received:

Clusters: 167 nominations received from schools

Provincial nominees: 39 schools, 59 teachers including five teams will receive awards.

Provincial winner: 10 individuals (ten schools)

National Adjudication

National Adjudication will take place during the 06 – 13 December 2015 in Pretoria.

NTA 2015 Winners Contact details

NTA 2015 Finalist Motivations – 2015