“The Stella Clark Teachers’ Award Has Surpassed All Expectations.”

The ongoing crisis in basic education has a huge impact on South Africa’s ability to train the next generation of scientists, engineers, technicians and other professionals. The shortage of suitably qualified teachers, especially in township and rural schools, is often blamed for the poor quality of education. However, there are some schools, even in the most impoverished areas, which produce superb results. The success of these schools, in spite of their enormous challenges, can be attributed to remarkable school leadership and in particular, skilled and dedicated teachers. The Stella Clark Teachers' Award acknowledges the work of exceptionally talented teachers – the unsung heroes who go beyond the call of duty to motivate and inspire their learners to perform well and rise above their poverty stricken circumstances.

The Award was established in honour of Stella Clark, an extraordinary University of Cape Town lecturer from the Centre of Higher Education Development’s (CHED) Academic Development Program. Her husband Kevin J Naidoo, a UCT Chemistry professor, and children established the award after her death in March 2005, to recognise her many years of dedicated service to teaching and mentoring students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. At the beginning of each academic year, CHED invites students to nominate high school teachers who they believe helped make it possible for them to pursue their dream of accessing tertiary education, particularly the University of Cape Town. The successful teacher, the school, and the UCT student who nominates the successful teacher all receive monetary prizes. The teacher receives the award at a ceremony held at UCT in August. The teacher’s spouse, school principal, CHED staff, the nominating student, UCT Vice-Chancellor and representatives from the Department of Education attend the ceremony. The University aims to highlight skilled teaching practices and at the awards’ ceremony recipients are given the opportunity to share with the public the reasons for their success in the classroom.

CHED is delighted with the impact the Stella Clark Teachers’ Award has had, and looks forward to the growing influence it will have in future years. This award also plays an important part in widening access to UCT and in forging links with schools in the townships and rural areas. Since its inception in 2006 the success of the Stella Clark Teachers’ Award has surpassed all expectations. The variety and large number of exceptional applications from students tell inspiring stories about remarkably dedicated teachers, some with national reputations and many active beyond the boundaries of their classrooms.