His Excellency: Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa
His Excellency: Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa
MECs for Education
MECs for Arts and Culture
Provincial Heads of Department
Representatives of the Department of Arts and Culture
Representatives of Teacher Unions
Our Partners more especially Motsepe Foundation
Members of the public
School Governing Body members
I wish to welcome everyone to the 2016 National ABC Motsepe Schools Eisteddfod.
The ABC Motsepe Schools Eisteddfod, formerly known as the South African Schools Eisteddfod (SASCE), is one of the Department’s prestigious events in the annual school calendar. This is our quest to promote unity in diversity, national reconciliation, social cohesion and a national identity among young South Africans of school-going age. The programme realizes this vision by addressing embedded cultural, traditional and indigenous meanings to nation-building, sense of belonging, and definition of a South African national identity. The Department values this project as it resonates well with Government’s vision to improve quality of life for all citizens, free the potential of each person and build a united and democratic country.
Music, like all other forms of cultural expression, is an important weapon of education. So much is invested in this exercise precisely because it advances the holistic development of the young, preparing them for constructive lives fulfilling to themselves, their country and their people.
This year, we are honoured to have the Motsepe Foundation supporting choral music, through the ABC Motsepe Schools Eisteddfod among other programmes. The Motsepe Foundation committed to a longitudinal sponsorship that promises to take the eisteddfod to greater heights and advance learners that are more inclined to the arts and sport.
The theme for this year’s Eisteddfod is “Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1976 student uprising”. The country is celebrating the heroism of students who stood up to the apartheid state. The students of June 16, 1976 fought for their rights and the liberation of their country from racial oppression and subjugation. In the current times around this period we reflect on the achievements, challenges and opportunities facing the current generation of young people.
In spite of the challenges, we have certainly come a long way in providing access to education in South Africa. Nearly all children in South Africa now have access to a complete primary schooling.
In 1970, only 43 000 people attained a matric qualification. Forty-five years later, this figure has increased 11-fold to over 500 000. Over the last 10 years, grade completion rates have improved, especially amongst black youth.
I am also pleased that in the 2016 Eisteddfod, choirs will continue to recite the Preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and sing the Plea for Africa piece as a symbol of commemorating our past. The South African National Anthem has always been a permanent feature of this programme. More recently, we added the African Union Anthem. This crucial step taken by the National Coordinating Committee is commendable as it helps to instill in our learners the recognition of South Africa as an integral part of the African continent.
For the splendid work that went into hosting this event, I wish to thank the National Coordinating Committee, comprising national and provincial officials, representatives from teacher unions and other organizations including the Department of Arts and Culture.
We are grateful to the Motsepe Foundation and all our partners in education for their tremendous contribution to the successful implementation of this programme, from technical operations to building human resource capacity. Africa has huge potential for growth and prosperity with the right investment of resources, collaboration and mutual partnerships.
Our gratitude also goes to the school management teams, school governing bodies, and more importantly the teachers, parents and learners for their selfless contribution towards the success of the programme.
I would like to congratulate all the learners and schools that have been selected to perform at the 2016 National Eisteddfod event. Please enjoy the best school choral music that our country has to offer.
I thank you.