Today is World Teachers’ Day and we’re taking the opportunity to salute those teachers who put their duties to their pupils above their own interests, and report corruption. They are our heroes for the week.

The 2016 World Teachers’ Day (WTD) marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 International Labour Organization/Unesco Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. It is also the first WTD to be celebrated within the new Global Education 2030 Agenda adopted by the world community one year ago, says Unesco.

This year’s theme is Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status. It highlights the crucial role that teachers around the world will play in achieving the targets set out in the fourth of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A specific education goal, SDG4, pledges to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

Teachers are key to achieving the targets set out in SDG4, says Unesco. But it becomes necessary to not only substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers but to motivate them by valuing their work. As Corruption Watch, we value the work of our teachers by doing what we can, within our own limitations, to address their corruption concerns or help them find an agency that will assist if we can’t.

Some of our teacher reporters suffer extreme hardships for daring to stand up and do the right thing. One of them, from a Gauteng high school, told us that he suffered unfair dismissal after false accusations of inappropriate behaviour towards schoolchildren were levelled against him. The teacher also claimed that he was arrested and wrongly imprisoned for many days.

This victimisation, he believes, was a set-up because he reported the school principal for mismanagement of a few million rands’ worth of school funds.

This is just one of the many brave teachers with whom we have come into contact. We remember the Thubelihle teachers, a group of eight who stood up against their principal and former school governing body chairperson for the pair’s alleged abuse of power. They were vindicated later when the Gauteng education department took on the matter and investigated.

Other teachers are featured in our schools report, released a year ago. And for the duration of our schools campaign we have engaged with teachers and parents to educate them about how to spot corruption in their schools and what to do about it. During the school governing board elections last year we also encouraged parents to get to know who’s on their schools’ boards and what to expect from them, so that they can hold them to account.

To all of the teacher whistleblowers, we say that we respect their courage tremendously and are privileged to have worked with many of them – they are all heroes.