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Prior to lockdown – which seems like another lifetime for all of us – most SA citizens chose to roam the grocery stores in lieu of stock-piling on toilet paper and their choice of poison to keep them sane (which now can be easily located on the black market) for what feels like eleventy thousand and eleven days, while teachers were in the midst of deadlines, report comments, teacher/parent meetings and then the additional pressure of continuing the academic rigour to teach their fellow students while lockdown ensues. Remember this phase? 

Let’s not forget the nurses, doctors and all involved in being on the frontline waiting in the hospitals and preparing for the worst; they too have a gruelling task ahead of them but somehow these frontliners found it possible to wake up every morning and do what is expected of them.

If you really ponder about these sets of professionals, you will find that both parties are not dissimilar at all; we have the frontliners who were and still are helping the sick and assisting in hospitals while the teachers still are educating younger generations in a rather unusual format. Their common bond; a selfless journey in giving unto others.

To keep abreast of it all, teachers found creative ways in which to teach their students. Suddenly we had online music lessons, Google Classroom, Hangouts, Google Meet, Zoom chats, remote learning and even apps have been installed. Never was there more of a buzz or household name than Zoom! And as if this wasn’t enough for teachers to grapple with, there are the endless possibilities of their students all speaking at once or a family member, possibly a tiny human of their own, who could potentially bombard their lesson(s). There were and perhaps still are technical issues, students aren’t on the same page, literally, and teachers have to encounter parents hanging out with them in the quest to assist their child. Through it all, these professionals still found their ‘funny – side’ and decided to make videos which involved bloopers, flying books, hockey sticks and toilet paper to keep their students going but above all, encouraged.

After having role-played being a teacher for six weeks plus, parents are exhausted and hopefully now a tad more compassionate than before! They too are wishing for a holiday after educating perhaps one or two students in their household; certainly not a class, all working at a different pace, all asking questions at once and following varying instructions according to individual abilities.

Regardless of all the odds stacked up against these wonderful humans, who are really at the heart of education, they are managing to keep up with the demands of the syllabi as well as their students – what a phenomenal feat this is!

Be assured that the day will come when you, educators, will return to bells ringing, the pressure of completing more work, staff meetings, extra murals and other demands. You will go back to being the social workers, parent figures and face-to-face psychologists you are for your students in a school environment. It is truly remarkable to note what and how you, as educators in South Africa, invest in the educational system.

The French ask a pertinent question in their country and it’s not ‘What do you do?’ but rather De quoi êtes-vous le maître?’ which translates to ‘What are you the master of?’

It’s quite simple. You, teachers, educators and professionals are the Masters of Education.

We salute you! 

Enkosi, dankie, thank you, ngiyabonga from all of us at Get SACE Points!