2020 was a year unlike any other, as we had to face the COVID-19 global pandemic which restricted many nations when hard government lockdowns were implemented worldwide. South Africa was no different as we went into a level 5 lockdown from the 27th of March 2020 to try and minimise the spread of COVID-19.
The Global Teachers Institute comes into 2021 having experienced much uncertainty, stress and trauma caused by the pandemic in our various working spaces. We further suffered the loss of Tuksie Nkwinti, who was amongst the pioneers of the work of GTI and became the Programme Manager of the LEED Champion Teachers Programme, which identified and trained public school teachers and learners in rural South Africa as potential change agents (2017 – 2019). She will be sorely missed for her passion and contribution in the education sector and as a GTI family member.
We are certain that we have become stronger and learned to adapt in uncertainty. We find encouragement in the words of our Executive Chairperson, John Gilmour, when he wrote:
“2021 will have its own challenges and opportunities – 2020 has prepared us to deal with whatever lies ahead. Adaptive, anticipatory, agile, and action-oriented! It is not the year that needs to be better. It is we who need to be better in the year ahead!”
GTI has undoubtedly learned to be “adaptive, anticipatory, agile, action-oriented”. Our team was able to continue to function outside of the office space and work productively from home. We remained in touch via Zoom, email and WhatsApp, and we were also able to mobilise resources for our future leaders to obtain laptops and receive data allowances.
Our Future Leaders Programme continued to run during the lockdown and our future leaders had virtual contact sessions with each other and with their Regional Schools Coordinators. For more on the innovations developed during 2021, see the articles on our first blended Imbizo and how our regional schools coordinators have been bridging the digital divide (links below).
We begin 2021 as a more resilient organisation with plans to expand our Future Leader Cohort from 80 to 100. Our Public-Private Partnership pilot in the Mpumalanga region grows from a cohort of 19 to 30 future leaders and extends to the Bohlabela district where Tania Ham, one of our senior regional schools coordinators, will be placed. We are excited to share our team’s growth with the addition of Marcia Ndlovu, who is replacing Tania as the regional schools coordinator in our Limpopo region as she moves to our new district in Mpumalanga. Marcia holds a Bachelor of Social Science degree from UKZN and completed her PGCE with UNISA. She joins the organisation with a rich background as an educator, having taught for 11 years at Inanda Seminary School in KZN.
As we continue onwards with the uncertainty, we are committed to remaining adaptive and action-oriented as we enter this New Year in lockdown.
The support and reassurance that we have received from each of you has empowered us and our future leaders to reach our full potential and complete the challenging 2020 academic year. As we move forward, we wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!