Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, met with more than 500 girl learners who serve in various school leadership structures, such as Representative Councils for Learners, in Welkom on 27 August 2016. Mentoring girl learners in leadership positions will play a vital role in strengthening gender equality in society, particularly at school level. The theme for the event was: The role of the education system in shaping the future of female learners to contribute effectively towards the socio-economic growth of the country; and was organised to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings. The ceremony was also utilised as an opportunity to address various social challenges including HIV and AIDS, teenage pregnancy and various forms of gender-based violence, such as sexual harassment, which negatively affects learner attendance and performance.
In her address, Minister Motshekga said that women need to be well equipped to take up leadership positions to change the world for the better. However, the Minister told the girl learners that leadership requires responsibility and accountability. Minister Motshekga further emphasised that, in order to be successful leaders, girl learners should develop a habit of reading; not only for academic purposes, but for general knowledge.
The Minister warned girl learners that the road to success is never easy and encouraged them to work hard and persevere until they reach their targeted goals in life. Minister Motshekga appealed to these future leaders to concentrate on their school work. “Education is key to success and it plays a significant role in the transformation of people‘s lives. Education serves as the backbone for socio-economic development in this country,” concluded the Minister.
Girl learners from Hodisa Technical College in Bloemfontein that attended the commemoration shared the following:
Mpho Moshou, said that the event addressed core issues that appear to be stumbling blocks for girl learners to succeed. “Gender discrimination, sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy are serious issues in this country. However, through Government support, girl learners stand a chance to succeed academically,” she said.
Fumane Phera in turn reflected that the event has helped her to become more confident and assertive; and added that she now knows what is expected from her as a leader: “As girl learners we would need to equip ourselves through education in order to become responsible and accountable future leaders. Most importantly, we need to overcome fear or self-doubt in order to prove that gender is never a barrier to leadership positions, be it at school or in the corporate world.”