For World Teachers’ Day last year, I wrote on the theme of that well-known maxim, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
This year, I would like to update this with the wise words of Tshilidzi Marwala, the University of Johannesburg’s vice-chancellor. When the Duchess of Sussex visited his university recently, as part of her tour of southern Africa, Marwala emphasised the importance of women in Africa being able to access higher education. He told the duchess: “If you want to feed a village, you have to empower women.”
Today, on World Teachers’ Day, it is a phrase that has particular resonance for me.
Because if we want to feed our global village, if we want to have a better future for all of us in the 21st century, we must empower all women.
As CEO of the GDST, my focus is girls’ education. My job is to empower teachers to give our students the confidence to “spread your wings as far and fast as they will take you” as I recently told GDST sixth formers.
And it is you, the teachers, who are involved in this most important mission in the world – educating the next generation, and raising them to be confident and fearless.
I am in awe of teachers who do this, seemingly effortlessly, but I know how hard you all work.
I know that you all believe that the quality of an education consists not just in what is learned but in how it is learned. The process is as important as the immediate outcome; the route taken as important as the destination.
At GDST schools academic excellence is a given; but we go much further than that. We know that we must develop character and resilience in an environment where girls learn without limits.
We aim to provide teachers with the right support, plus stimulating surroundings so they can perform at their best, as well as a professional development framework to help them fulfil their ambitions.
We know that a happy teacher is an inspirational teacher. And we know it is each and every one of you who holds the key to empowering the women of the future.
So, thank you. Thank you for all the extraordinary work you do.