1. Distinguished members of the teaching profession, today marks Teachers’ Day, an auspicious occasion that recognises the contribution of teachers to the socio-economic development of Botswana and the global community. Traditionally, Teachers’ Day is marked by national celebrations, awards and an unveiling of social responsibility projects. However, this year no celebrations will be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. As we recognise the achievements of our teachers, let us take a moment to pause and remember our past and fallen heroes and heroines of the education sector, who have shaped the destiny of our people and nation profoundly. Amen.
3. Today we recognise and appreciate the dedication and selfless service made by teachers throughout the years despite resource challenges. Their efforts have indeed
taken our country to where it is today.
4. Ladies and Gentlemen, today Botswana boasts of one of the highest literacy rates not just in Africa but across the world at over 86% literacy for people aged 15 years and older, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) latest statistics. This undoubtedly speaks to the critical foundation that was laid by teachers who came before us, who saw not just the value of education but how it could effectively transform an individual and ultimately the nation.
5. The strides that we have made since independence as a country, from being one of the poorest countries in the world to where we are now, is not attributed to the discovery of diamonds alone, but how prudently we managed our resources as a country. We cannot discount the investment we made in to education system and the impact it subsequently had in the growth and development of our society and economy. When we say education is the
key to success, such are the successes we point to. More
significantly, I can’t think of any profession that has contributed to the growth of our economy more than the teachers. Yes, teachers are the torch bearers of our torch bearers.
6. We however must not dwell on our past successes but look to the future taking in stride how the world is changing and must be adaptable in the evolving economic landscape. Our education must follow suit.
7. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as envisioned in our National Vision 2036, we endeavour to transform our economy from being resource-based to a knowledge-based economy. As such, our education training and skills development systems must be developed to embrace science, innovation and technology. Therefore, this demands that the teaching profession intensify its capacity to adapt to the ever
changing education environment.
8. Distinguished teachers, I want to remind you that there is a need to embrace Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for information dissemination and social interaction, especially in these difficult times caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic. However, one of the silver linings arising from this crisis is that we have had to introspect on how we do things and identify new methods of delivering education to ensure the realization of the aspirations of our National Vision 2036 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on Quality Education.
9. Under this new normal, our teachers will need to be innovative and flexible, applying themselves to ensure that curriculum delivery and syllabus coverage is completed in the most efficient and effective manner. Measures such as e-learning, flip school, the double shift model and flexi lesson schedules should be explored to provide the best learning platforms and
environment for our children.
10. The learner of today needs to realise the importance of
education and the need to take control of their destiny through dedication and hard work. To bridge the gaps created by the COVID-19 pandemic, more collaboration between stakeholders is necessary and the role of parents in their children’ s education can never ever be overemphasized.
11. Distinguished teachers, let me take this opportunity to congratulate you for your contribution to nation building. I in particular recognize the support you have been giving my Government during this crisis and this speaks greatly to the knowledge that you have that the future of our children and indeed our country is truly in your hands.
12. I wish to reiterate my Government’s commitment to
substantially improve human capital skills and knowledge in the education sector. In addition, more
measures will be taken to reform the entire education sector, as part of my Transformation Agenda. Government will also continue to work and engage with teachers’ representatives with the view to seek better and sustainable ways to improve teachers’ welfare status.
13. I understand this year, we will not be giving out any individual awards because of the restrictions brought about by COVID-19, so for now, I can only thank and congratulate you on behalf of the whole nation for the profound and excellent service that you continue to provide to Botswana particularly as you prepared the schools to be COVID 19 compliant before they reopened.
14. A teacher is a pillar of knowledge who builds not only leaders of tomorrow, but thriving communities. As you shape the minds of our children, you are shaping our
future. I therefore encourage you to continue doing
your work diligently, with the passion and commitment that have led us to be the informed and prosperous nation we are today and in the future.
I thank you.