Dumelang! Sanibonani! Good morning!
I am deeply moved and honoured to be granted the privilege to address you this morning.
Committed teachers and dedicated learners are a beacon of hope for our country.
Education is at the core of our government’s strategy for improving the lives of all our people. It is an instrument for achieving social cohesion and national unity.
We would like to extend our congratulations to MEC Panyaza Lesufi, to the Gauteng Department of Education, and to the educators and learners of this province for having taken the top spot in the 2014 national matric results.
We deeply appreciate the contribution that Boitumeleng Secondary School has made to this success story, achieving an 80.26 % pass rate.
Congratulations to both Ruphus Seopa and Katlego Buys for achieving five distinctions each.
To all the grade 8 learners who are beginning their studies today, remember that hard work, discipline and motivation brings such results.
Education provides you with an opportunity to overcome any obstacles that may stand in your way.
As our late President Nelson Mandela said:
“It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation.”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Information communication technology has revolutionised our lives and the way we do business.
The economies of the 21st century are rapidly becoming knowledge based economies.
Technology, the internet, a multi-skilled workforce, innovation and collaboration are critical to the success of the knowledge economy.
To thrive in the 21st century, we need to acquire new skills and be able to adapt to a rapidly-changing work environment.
One of the factors constraining economic growth in South Africa is the relative shortage of e-skills.
In a World Economic Forum report, South Africa’s global e-readiness ranking dropped from 47th place in 2007 to 70th in 2013.
It is for this reason that our country has adopted a national e-skills plan.
Today’s launch of the “Big Switch On” project by the Gauteng Department of Education is in line with this plan and the need to improve the quality of education in our country.
It demonstrates an appreciation of the opportunity that information technology provides for more efficient distribution of learning material and as a tool for more effective teaching.
It enables educators and learners to access resources that exist beyond the walls of the classroom. Indeed, it enables them to access resources from the other side of the globe.
It gives them access to the world.
Importantly, it also gives them the skills that are needed to succeed in this world.
It introduces them to ways of working, thinking and producing that are defining the workplaces of the present and the future.
It will make it easier for them to bridge the divide between the world of learning and the world of work.
This divide – between the skills we learn and the skills we need – continues to frustrate our efforts to tackle youth unemployment.
That is why we need to support this programme and to expand it.
If our economy is to grow, if the lives of our people are to be improved, if business is to thrive, then we need more of this.
We need the private sector also to play a major role in ensuring that this groundbreaking initiative succeeds, is sustained and is replicated in other provinces.
In the spirit of rebuilding our country and in giving young people opportunities, the private sector should take a particular interest in rural and township schools.
We therefore welcome the involvement of those companies that have made a contribution to upgrading the infrastructure at this school.
We welcome other initiatives by the private sector.
Not far from here is Phomolong Secondary School, which achieved a 100% pass rate last year.
It is part of Samsung’s ‘Hope for Children’ campaign, becoming the first school to be connected to one of Samsung’s solar power generators.
The generator powers the school’s administration block, which accounts for over 90% of its total electricity consumption. The company also installed energy efficient LED lights to help further reduce electricity usage.
There is a lot more that business is doing to support education in this country, and there is a lot more that they can do.
We urge families and communities to continue playing an active role in the education of our children.
The success of this educational enterprise depends on the commitment of our teachers.
As we appeal to them to rededicate themselves to serving our youth, so too do we renew our commitment to support them and empower them.
Ultimately, it is you, the learners, who need to be responsible for your future by taking seriously the opportunities that now exist.
Your commitment to learning today will determine your success tomorrow.
As we commemorate 60 years since the adoption of the Freedom Charter, we recall that it says:
“The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace.”
On the 40th anniversary of this historic school, let us all recommit ourselves to the achievement of this objective.
Let us recommit ourselves to an education that expands minds as it expands opportunities.
Let us recommit ourselves to an education that changes lives as it changes society.
Let the doors of learning and culture be opened.
I thank you.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS