Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka has praised educators for their commitment to education as well as the impact their work was having on addressing the countrys skills shortage.
Addressing the 7th annual Most Improved Schools Awards on Friday, Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka urged educators to continue their hard work in the fight against the country's fleeting skills base.
The award ceremony is an initiative introduced by the Department of Education to recognise educators and schools who are showing improved Senior Certificate results.
The deputy president urged the gathering to make greater use of their social standing in communities to reduce student drop-out rates at schools.
She also expressed her gratitude to private companies and parastatals for adopting the Dinaledi schools project, the success of which were seen in the fact that 8 out of the 10 schools awarded for marked improvements in higher and standard grade mathematics, were Dinaledi schools.
The Dinaledi schools project is aimed at increasing access to maths and science at higher-grade level in underprivileged schools.
Among the awards presented by the deputy president and Education Minister Naledi Pandor, was the Club 100 award, which seeks to recognise schools who achieved a minimum of 100 passes on higher grade mathematics.
The school taking the accolade for the highest pass rate was Hoërskool Waterkloof, with 225 passes in higher grade mathematics for 2007.
Other categories at the awards included Excellence in Mathematics, Outstanding Improvement in Home Language and English 2nd Language, and Consistent Improvement.
The skills shortage in not unique to South Africa as the continent has been experiencing what is popularly referred to as a brain-drain for a number of decades.
Speaking at the 10th African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in February 2008, President Thabo Mbeki told fellow African leaders that the continent needs to retain its skilled professionals.
"To achieve all our industrial development objectives, skills development and mobilisation of human resources, both on the continent and in the Diaspora ... attention need to be given to the retention of skills within the continent.
"Hundreds of thousands of African professionals are currently working outside the continent ... for instance there are reports that more than 2 000 Nigerian doctors work in the United States, even though there continues to be a critical need for health professionals in Nigeria and the rest of our continent," said the President.
Mr Mbeki further said that there are reportedly more Sierra Leonean doctors living in the Chicago area than in Sierra Leone. An estimated 600 Ghanaian doctor's work in New York City and more than 1 000 professionals left Zimbabwe for other countries in 1997.
Shockingly, he pointed out, there are more African-born scientists and engineers working in the US than there are in Africa.
Between 1960 and 1987 it is estimated that Africa lost a third of its professionals to developed countries.
Some 23 000 academics and 50 000 middle and senior management personnel leave the continent every year, the President said at the time, adding that more than 40 000 Africans with PhDs now live outside of the continent. - BuaNews
Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System