SA hails nation's maths teacher William Smith after national order honour

William Smith received the National Baobab order for his contribution to teaching

(Supplied: GCIS)
William Smith received the National Baobab order for his contribution to teaching (Supplied: GCIS)

The mathematics teacher that many South Africans grew up with, William Smith, was honoured with a National Order award on Thursday for his excellent contribution to the teaching and demystification of mathematics and science.

The ceremony was held at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in the City of Tshwane, and bestowed upon him by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Smith made mathematics and science accessible to all learners for free through television in a ground-breaking TV programme in the 1990s called the 'Learning Channel' on SABC 2.

He obtained financial support to run an expensive TV operation while he was a teacher so that the poorest of the poor could benefit at no cost from his lessons in the said subjects.

The National Orders are the highest awards that South Africans can receive. The president bestows a national order upon a South African citizen or member of the international community who has contributed towards making South Africa a democratic and successful country.

Smith's award - the Baobab in Silver - is awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service in the fields of business and the economy, science, medicine, technological innovation and community service.

'A real SA hero'

Smith has received warm praise on social media from citizens across the country who benefited greatly from his contribution on television.

He was trending at number 2 on Twitter as at 17:00 on Thursday, with over 3 000 tweets posted in the last few hours.

Twitter user Ayanda Dlamini reflected on her childhood spent in front of the television listening to Smith.

"Who remembers eating their left over lunch while watching this one on tv after school? I didn't always understand but his energy was awesome. Congratulations "William Smith" Glad that We could honour him while he is still alive," she tweeted.