MTN Foundation Chairperson
MTN Foundation CEO
MTN Foundation Board of Trustees
SGB Chairperson and Members
Principal, Teachers and Learners
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed my singular honour and a privilege to be asked to deliver a keynote address in this important event as we celebrate the private sector investment in the basic education sector. I am happy to be part of this revolutionary narrative of Taking South Africa’s Basic Education Forward through the MTN Foundation’s ‘Back to School Campaign’. From the onset, let me pass our gratitude to the MTN Foundation and the community of Mampho Secondary School: Thank you very much indeed for the kind invitation to participate in this important event today.
Programme Director; it has now been accepted throughout the world that only basic education has the capacity to equip this generation with the set of skills to navigate the demands and challenges of the 21st century. It is true that basic education underpins the development in all sectors of our society. In this regard, we must do all that we can to protect and promote the education of young people.
It is for this reason, Programme Director, that this ANC-led administration has declared basic education an apex priority. We did so mindful of the fact that it is only education that is an equaliser in the greater scheme of things.
“Spending on basic education next year will be over R240 billion, or 17.5 Henceforth, we have invested the lion’s share of the national budget towards education. In his Budget Speech, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said, per cent of the consolidated budget. Allocations for school building increase at 12.5 per cent a year. Spending on learning and teaching support materials increases by 9.5 per cent over the next three years.”
All we ask of learners and teachers is that the nation must reap good returns for the investment made. As you can see the biggest chunk of the national budget went to education and, why? Because of you. It is not an accident that we are investing in education because we know by investing in you; we are investing in the future of this country. And therefore, it is very important for you to make that investment very worthwhile because if you fail, you don’t only fail for yourself, you fail for all of us and that is why we are investing so much money in you because you are our future. I urged young people to be the best that they can be as the country’s future depends on them.
We are pained though by the fact accentuated by Minister of Finance Pravin Gordon in his Budget Speech that despite our progress in education; over half of all children in Grade five cannot yet read adequately in any language. He further said: “More than half of all school-leavers each year enter the labour market without a senior certificate pass. 75 per cent of these will still be unemployed five years later.”
We therefore agree that although much has been achieved much more need to be done. We must spare neither strength nor courage in-order to take the basic education sector to greater heights. In this journey, we need all the help and partners we can muster. This is our collective responsibility as country to brighten the future of our young people. Programme Director, the reality of the situation is that we are unable to achieve all this alone as Government, hence the need for partnerships and private sector investment in education.
“We are mindful that the amount of public funds allocated to basic education is not enough to deal a heavy blow to the inequalities that exist within the public schooling environment. In this regard, we rely on private sector investors such as the MTN Foundation to plug the gaps. The needs of the basic education sector far outweigh the budget from the public purse. To this end, we are grateful to the MTN Foundation for being a long-time partner and investor to the basic education sector. In Zulu they say: ukwanda kwaliwa ngumthakathi,” meaning only, “a wicked heart hates it when others succeed”.
Programme Director; what makes the MTN Foundation investment in the basic education space revolutionary is their fixation with the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure. We have said that ICT is a game changer for our basic education system. We know through the adoption of the ICTs our basic education has the potential to join other leading nations in the world as providers of quality public schooling. The MTN Foundation has to date provided just over 300 schools nationally with the state-of-the-art ICT enabled multimedia centres.
Programme Director; let me dwell on importance of the ICTs in our sector. Collectively as Government, we are taking bold steps to realise the vision of ICT led education as spelled out in our developmental blueprint, the National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP states that ICT is seen as an enabler with the potential to speed up delivery, support analysis, build intelligence and create new ways to share information, learn and engage. The NDP says by 2030:
- ICT will underpin the development of a dynamic and connected information society and a vibrant knowledge economy that is more inclusive and prosperous.
- A seamless information infrastructure will be universally available and accessible to all.
To achieve the above as instructed by the NDP, Programme Director, I am happy to report that we have thus created the ICT masterplan through the Presidential Operation Phakisa programme. The ICT masterplan is aligned to the Department of Basic Education Action Plan to 2019. The Operation Phakisa ICT interventions are focusing on providing an end-to-end ICT solution to schools through digital content development and distribution using offline and online platforms, provision of connectivity, hardware, teacher professional development and e-Administration systems. This will ensure that teaching and learning experiences match the needs of the changing world. This approach is supported by our assertion that “greater use of technology, backed by high-speed broadband, could open new opportunities” for teachers and learners.
Thus, the MTN Foundation’s focus on ICTs is not misplaced but it gives us the necessary impetus to reach the most vulnerable learners first.
has set aside a huge Foundationsince inception has been to improve the quality of learning and teaching in the basic education sector. Interestingly, the MTN Foundation Programme Director; directly linked to the MTN Foundation’s passion for the ICTs is equally an important area of investment: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Programme Director; let me recap, as we all know, the aim of the chuck of its resources to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This alone makes the MTN Foundation a natural partner for Government as we grapple on daily basis with improving learner outcomes in these gateway subjects. We all know that South Africa lags behind in the international rankings in terms of Mathematics and Science, although there has been slight improvement in the recent round of testing.
Our joint project in the STEM area creates opportunities for increased participation and success rate in this very important space. This project alone is in line with dictates of the National Development Plan (NDP) that exhorts us to increase the number of enrolments in Maths and Science. The NDP has set a target of 450 000 learners being eligible for a Bachelor's programme with Maths and Science by 2030.
Furthermore, the MTN Foundation makes it possible for learners to participate and showcase their projects about their own scientific investigations beyond our borders. It is important to note that this would not be possible without the support and interventions from you as our partners in the sector.
The following awards are merely some examples of the achievements of our learners at various international science fairs attended by South African learners:
- Taiwan International Science Fair – Taipei – 1 award;
- INTEL ISEF – United States of America – 6 awards;
- INESPO International Awards – Netherlands – 3 awards; and
- I – SWEEEP – United States of America – 1 award.
As a responsible corporate citizen, the MTN Group through its Foundation understands that poverty is an inhibitor to learner’s focus and educational success. In this regard, you have correctly identified the need for school shoes for the disadvantaged learners. We are therefore delighted to join the Foundation today to hand over school shoes to learners. We trust that this small gesture will indeed lighten the burden of the disadvantaged children. Poverty and socio-economic status of parents must not be a stumbling block to the potential of young people to receive quality education within the public schooling environment. I am reminded of the Chinese Proverb that says: “When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the person who planted them.”
We are indeed planting the seeds of success through all these interventions. I implore this cohort of leaners to reach for the stars in full knowledge that we have got their backs. In future, when they eat the bamboo sprouts, they will remember with fond memories this day.
I thank you.
As the Ministry of Basic Education, we are truly indebted to the MTN Foundation for the brain power, innovation and financial injection behind our partnership. In conclusion, I wish that our partnership in education continue to flourish so that in our lifetime we can realise our mission of providing State-funded quality education for all. We are very excited to be where we are, we agreed, we would work together to Move Education Forward, and we are doing so daily without any fanfare. In the words of the President of the Republic uBaba uJacob Zuma:
“We are making steady progress. But we have to do more. We have to improve the quality of Matric passes. We need to train more teachers, including principals, so that they can teach and manage schools better.” (NECT President Zuma Opening Remarks, April 24, 2015).
I thank you.