Address by President James A. Michel ahead of Teachers’ Day State House - “Act Now, Make a Difference”

Mon, 01 October 2012

Vice President,
Minister for Education,
Dear Teachers,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Every year, a special day is set aside when our nation celebrates and pays tribute to our teachers. World Teachers’ Day is held annually on 5th October when it was created by UNESCO in 1994 to moblise support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers.

In Seychelles, though, we do things a little differently. We devote a whole week, starting from today, to our teachers. To show we love them, how much we appreciate them and how much we respect them.

This is why we are gathered at State House this evening.  We are also gathered for the Award Presentation ceremony where we pay special tribute to long-serving teachers. It gives me immense pleasure to congratulate those teachers who have received their awards this evening. You deserve this recognition. It is a testimony to your commitment, to your hard work and to your devotion to the education and upbringing of our children. Our nation is grateful to you and we thank you. We hope that other teachers will follow in your path.

And as I look at you, I am reminded of the words of this literary giant of France, Anatole France, “Good teachers impart good education. Great teachers groom their students to become leaders. Ordinary teachers direct us along the right path, but great teachers inspire us to seek our own path. They encourage us to discover our talents”.

Teachers mould the lives that they influence. They help shape and challenge the minds of the young, and guide and train them for lifelong learning, thereby contributing to the social, economic, and intellectual development of our nation.

Lessons learned from teachers remain with their students throughout life. I carry lasting impressions of some of these great educators who helped shape my life. Three of them are with us tonight as my special guests: Miss Anita, Miss Adrienne and Miss Aglae. Sir Philippe Hoareau was unable to be here, unfortunately. You are very special ladies. I shall always be grateful to you and carry you in my heart.

This evening, in particular, I remember my teachers. They provided support, they instilled a love of lifelong learning in me, and they inspired respect. They taught me respect for my elders, respect for my peers, and respect for all my fellow human beings. If today I have been entrusted with the responsibility of leading this nation of ours, much is due to them. For the values they instilled in me. For the education they gave me. For the knowledge and skills they imparted to me. That is why I pay them all my gratitude and reverence. And I extend them to you as you carry on in the footsteps of these formidable people who, no doubt, have also taught a few of you. Their legacy lives on.

Our teachers need all the support and encouragement they can get from the community and from their students. Let us not forget that they also have their own families and that they face, just like us, challenges and life’s stresses on a daily basis.

For students, Teacher's Day is an occasion to pay homage and gratitude to teachers for their selfless efforts in imparting knowledge, moulding the career of students and enriching the education system in the process. It is also a wonderful opportunity to show them respect, and more respect.

The theme chosen for this year’s Teachers’ Day is “Act Now, Make a Difference”.  It is both timely and appropriate considering that our country is sparing no effort in soliciting the support of all concerned, especially teachers, to help shape the social construct of our community.

Therefore, teachers, you are being called upon to act and enhance your impact on the lives you touch and the minds you shape.  Your role is a noble one. It is also crucial.

Let us not forget, though, the role of parents in education. Education starts at home, in the family. It is a serious responsibility. It is complementary to the education that the child receives at school. Parents must take their role seriously. Failing that, their children will develop negative which, ultimately, will contribute to more social ills.

The most valuable assets of our country are our human resources.  That is why the government continues to invest in school infrastructure, thereby ensuring that education and training will be provided for our students in the best possible educational environment.  

Likewise, we shall continue to invest in teacher training. The capacity building of teachers will continue in other critical subject areas where we are depending heavily on overseas recruitment.  I would, therefore, like to make an appeal to all those who have the necessary qualifications to join the teaching profession. Act now, and make a difference!

I wish to record my appreciation of the efforts of so many people who have helped to bring us to this stage of our educational development, and I urge teachers, parents, school management, the Ministry of Education, and all citizens of this country to continue to work hard to preserve and enhance all aspects of our education system.

On this special occasion, the nation joins me to thank all teachers of Seychelles for their hard work, dedication and determination. Let every child that is under your care remember you with respect and affection, just as I remember those teachers who helped steer my life. Let every child be inspired and motivated by you. We remember with gratitude and affection those who have passed on and those who are in retirement after so many years of service. To those in active service, we say to them, we pledge you our full support and respect. And remember those wise words of Einstein: Love is a better teacher than duty!
Happy Teachers’ Day!

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