Address by President Jacob Zuma during the official launch of the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Garankuwa, Pretoria
Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande,
Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla,
Chairperson of the Interim Council, Professor Olive Shisana,
Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mr Mduduzi Manana
Academics and students,
Ladies and gentlemen
I am delighted to form part of the launch of the third new university in South Africa, the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University.
In the State of the Nation Address on 17 June 2014, I indicated that education remains an apex priority of this government.
Government will continue to invest in education and skills as the key to economic growth and development. Today’s event is another example of the fulfilment of that commitment.
South Africa today is faced with an extensive shortage and an inadequate distribution of health professionals. We have an undersupply of new and appropriately trained health science graduates which is why we need to focus intensively on producing this important health professional core.
The establishment of Sefako Makgatho University therefore provides an excellent opportunity for the development and training of a new generation of health professionals who will make a positive impact on the lives and livelihoods of the many South Africans still marginalised by poverty and lack of access to health services.
We are making history today because this is the first stand-alone health sciences university to be established in the country.
The university will go beyond only training medical doctors which was done by MEDUNSA. It will also produce other health professionals such as dentists, nurses, physiotherapists, medical technologists, radiographers, and so on.
The establishment of this university is but one indication that we are determined to bring education to all the people.
The establishment also supplements current initiatives to increase and expand the capacity of higher education institutions, and to substantially increase access to higher learning over the next 15 to 20 years to reach the expected participation rate of 25% by 2030.
The university has currently enrolled five thousand and thirty four (5034) students.
The projected growth for this institution is seven thousand students by 2019, and ten thousand students by 2024.
The university will recruit students from communities with the greatest health care needs, and provide innovative training programmes, including distance programmes which will provide students from all over the country with access to quality health care education.
Funding has been made available for this university to take off.
For 2015/16 financial year an amount of more than two hundred and ninety eight million rand (R298m) has been allocated in the form of a university subsidy to support the operations of the institution.
In addition, government has also allocated R210 million to support the establishment of this new university.
We are pleased to be adding this new expanded institution to our higher education sector.
Last year we established Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape and the University of Mpumalanga to expand access to education to all provinces. The two provinces had not had any university before.
We are really forging ahead in providing more opportunities and a better future for our youth and our people in general.
Government is committed to ensure that the large numbers of youth are given post school education and training opportunities that will improve their employability.
Alongside the focus on infrastructure must be a drive to improve teaching and learning.
This must translate into improved success rates and graduate outputs that should be at the forefront of all activities of our institutions.
Closely linked to this is the need to ensure that the range of courses and programmes offered by the universities meet the needs of the economy.
We also encourage our learners to take up mathematics and science as more opportunities are now available for further study for them in this field. We are also investing in teacher training so that we can produce students for Sefako Makgatho from our high schools.
Ladies and gentlemen
It is not a coincidence that this university is named after former ANC President, Mr Sefako Mapogo Makgatho.
Sefako Makgatho was a teacher, politician and journalist born at Ga-Mphahlele, in the then Pietersburg district in Northern Transvaal (now Limpopo).
President Sefako Makgatho dedicated his entire life to improving the human condition of the African masses in our country, in a noble, altruistic and gallant manner.
It was under his leadership that the Transvaal ANC exerted the pressure necessary for the introduction of a uniform tax for Africans across South Africa.
He together with other teachers in the Transvaal formed one of the first teacher unions, the Transvaal African Teachers ‘Association, so education was in his blood.
He was also the key figure in the formation of the African Political Union (APU) and the Transvaal Native Organisation.
He also promoted ideas and information dissemination and engaged in the battle of ideas at the time. During his period as a journalist he teamed up with Alfred Mangena to establish a political journal, “The Native Advocate” and also collaborated with Pixley ka Seme in launching the South African Native National Congress (now the ANC) publication Abantu Batho in 1912 which was funded by the Swazi queen regent.
As a Transvaal President of the ANC, he also successfully challenged the law providing for segregation on Pretoria’s pavements. He therefore made a sterling contribution to fighting segregation and racism in Pretoria. We are truly proud to name this university after him.
Ladies and gentlemen
I sincerely applaud the work done by the Interim Council of Sefako Makgatho University together with the Council of the University of Limpopo, under whom the erstwhile MEDUNSA fell, in making sure that this university opens its doors in January 2015.
In celebrating the birth of this new university, we also celebrate the promise, hope and aspirations of our country.
The Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University will set a new course for training of health professionals in the country.
The university is named after a gallant son of the South African soil. It must promote the legacy of Sefako Makgatho by producing appropriately qualified, highly skilled, and patriotic Human Resources for Health.
These are professionals who will never taint the image of their professions, and who will treat our people like diamonds, with utmost care and dedication.
These must be professionals who will carry forward the proposals made during the recent Operation Phakisa Delivery Laboratory, to ensure that our people receive quality health care in a caring manner.
I wish the new university all the best in this new journey ahead.
Congratulations to the Minister and all who have made this establishment possible in such a short space of time.
I thank you.
SOURCE: South African Official News