Outstanding South African teachers who have impacted positively on the lives of South African learners were honoured this weekend in the annual ‘The teacher who made the difference’ competition awards in Cape Town.

The event, linked to World Teachers’ Day on 5 October, was held in collaboration with Woolworths Educational Programmes and the MySchool Fundraising Programme.  The awards ceremony took place at the African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa in Century City on Saturday 18 October.

The first prize of a laptop and a R50 000 Woolworths gift card was awarded to Mrs Kikia-Khan of Reunion Secondary school. She was selected for her excellent long term impact she has on empowering learners.  She gets involved in the lives of not just her learners, but families and the community as well. She goes above and beyond her call of duty.

The second prize of a laptop and a R20 000 gift card went to Ms Connie Pretorius of Potchefstroom Gimnasium Hoërskool, and the third prize of a laptop and R10 000 gift card was awarded to Mrs Jackie Kolesky of Cape Recife High School in Port Elizabeth. Five runners-up also received laptops and R1000 gift cards.

“I’m overwhelmed and miss my husband so badly. He passed away 3 months ago and he was very supportive of all my extra work I’ve been doing at school. I want to thank my principal because he has always believed in me. I am really just speechless”

Mrs Kikia-Khan studied teaching at the University of Durban-Westville in Kwazulu Natal. She has been in education for 28 years and she teaches English to grades 9 to 12. Mrs Kikia-Khans first choice was law; because of financial constraints she ended up doing teaching, unaware that she was going to love it.

“We support this competition in order to raise awareness in school communities about the vital role that teachers play in the lives of South African children,” said Woolworths Pieter Twine, Woolworths General Manager of Loyalty & MySchool. “It inspires greater awareness of, and gratitude for, the role that teachers play in shaping the lives of future generations. Learners also enjoy acknowledging the people who have touched their lives in a special way.”

The regional selection process began on 7 August and closed on 12 September 2014. Over 7500 submissions were received, with learners writing letters of up to 200 words on how their favourite teachers had made a positive impact on their lives. Many included photographs and drawings.

The primary school  learners who nominated the  teacher finalists  each  won an iPad mini, while the four high school nominators received iPads. The eight schools were awarded a cash prize of R5000 each. A panel of independent judges made the final selections.