School Governing Bodies;
Members of Organised Labour;
Parents and Community Members
Learners and graduands
Today is a joyous occasion. We meet here to celebrate the achievement of men and women who have steadfastly refused to be left in the dungeon of darkness. Illiteracy - by its very nature keeps people in the darkness, and makes them to be part of meaningless statistics. Today, we are celebrating men and women who have allowed this Government to carry the torch of education to all the corners of the land, but also to people of all the ages. Today it’s about glitz and glamour. To all 100 of you graduands, we are indeed honoured to witness your educational equivalent of rite of passage.
Programme Director, it gives me a great pleasure to be here with you and to witness in person the Kha Ri Gude Graduation Ceremony. This is a second graduation ceremony I am witnessing in less than two weeks. As you might know this programme dubbed Kha Ri Gude is an adult mass literacy campaign. Kha Ri Gude is a Tshivenḓa phrase which means, “let’s learn” - masifunde in Zulu.
Programme Director, through Kha Ri Gude programme, we are indeed a learning nation. Latest statistics show that a whopping 4, 2 million adult learners have completed the programme since its inception – today they are able to read, write and count. In this province alone, Kha Ri Gude, has touched and changed the lives of 23, 382 females and 14, 526 males. All these learners, young and old have been touched by the torch of education. This is indeed a Good Story to Tell.
Programme Director, the issue of adult literacy is very important in the overall scheme of things. On one hand, it’s about the most basic things such as how to learn to read, write and count. On the other hand, it profoundly changes one’s life by bestowing upon such a person a sense of achievement and being integrated into a broader society. We must understand that matters dealing with adult literacy are not nice to have – but are fundamental to the kind of society we seek to build.
The Kha Ri Gude Programme is our response to the call of the Freedom Charter which declared that, “The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened!” The Charter specifically called for the eradication of adult illiteracy. It proclaimed boldly that:
“Adult illiteracy shall be ended by a mass state education plan.”
Programme Director, the Kha Ri Gude Programme is also anchored in our world-renowned Constitution which as an overarching vision for all of us bestows upon each and every South African a right to a basic education.
Programme Director, at a macro level this cohort of graduates is now able to read, write and count. These basic skills are foundational and will allow you never again to sign any document without fully understanding the meaning of its content. In this way, you’re able to redeem your basic human rights. Furthermore, you’re now ambassadors of a prosperous society. Research has shown that no country has achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without at least 40% of adults being able to read and write (GCE, 2010).
Programme Director, I said today is a joyous occasion – both for the graduands, the Department of Basic Education and rest of the country. Our country can ill-afford not honour the promise of freedom by restoring the dignity of an every South African – young and old. We can ill-afford to have a section of society left behind while others reap the dividends of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. We will be failing in our duty as holders of public power if we do not exercise that power for the benefit of all citizens. Public power is by nature held in a trust by a few elected men and women. It must therefore be exercised prudently and for the benefit of the people.
Programme Director, while the Kha Ri Gude Programme is famous for enabling elders to read their own letters in privacy without the prying eye of their adolescents - simultaneously it is being used as a tool to fight poverty through providing short-term employment to thousands of volunteers. Over the past eight years more 2, 683 billion Rand has been paid out in the form of stipends to our volunteers. In 2016, it is anticipated that a further R158 million will be paid out as stipends as the campaign hopes to reach the milestone of 4, 7 million beneficiaries. Again, this is indeed a Good Story to Tell. We are indeed a nation a work.
I happy to report that there are we are winding up the programme with 30 000 pipeline learners and 1497 volunteers including those from the disability sector.
Programme Director, we are passionate about adult literacy, and scholars who have pondered the issue of the importance of eradicating adult illiteracy in both developing and developed societies for centuries concur. It is now accepted in the scientific community that adult education is capable of bringing mass positive changes in the society. Adult literacy can help citizens fight against evil cultural practices such as, forced marriages, gender-based violence, and drug abuse amongst others. An educated citizenry contribute towards the overall progress of the nation. A country achieves great success where a large number of adults consist of educated people such as artisans, mathematicians, plumbers, doctors, lawyers, chartered accountants, engineers, etc.
At a micro level adult education may enable a person to earn a better living. This alone – ability to earn an income - may contribute to overcoming his/her individual poverty. More broadly, an educated individual is capable of looking after himself and his family – overall increase in the overall standard of living including improved hygiene habits. At a family level, an educated adult is able to read to their children and grandchildren and sometimes are able to guide them in their studies endeavours.
Programme Director, it is heartening to see that the Kha Ri Gude programme has been a runaway success in this province as it has reached 262 085 learners across the age spectrum.
I am happy to report that 24% of the learners are below the age of 35 years. For these youth, the Kha Ri Gude programme is a game-changer as skills gained would have a long-lasting effect on their lives.
A further 56% of the learners are between the ages of 36 years and 60 years. This is the time at which adults are commonly economically active and are mostly likely to be engaged in their children’s lives and education. It is my hope that these learners will embark on further adult education as offered by the Department of Higher Education & Training.
Similarly, I do not want to discount the importance of learning for the 22% of the learners who are above the age of 60 years. Many of our seniors are “second round carers” and today more than ever need the skills of literacy and numeracy to manage the lives of children left in their care as a result of our disease burden in particular caused by the rampant effects of HIV/Aids.
Equally pleasing is that the number of men enrolling for Kha Ri Gude Programme has increased from 21% (in 2008) to 24% (in 2015). The benefits of learning and the impact of learning affect us all.
In conclusion, one must commend the work of Kha Ri Gude Programme coordinators who work tirelessly and voluntarily to make this possible. You need to be applauded for this contribution to our nation. The Kha Ri Gude Programme relies on you to be active in your communities - for the recruitment of volunteer educators, learners, and in the selection of venues for classes. It is pleasing to note that through you - our youth have internalized the important value of “service.” Indeed, as scholars have said, a life well lived is a life lived in a service to society. More than 60% of our volunteers are youth (i.e. below 35 years of age) willingly to give off their time to serve those less fortunate in their communities. It is through the skilful supervision provided by you, the coordinators, that the youth are able to make their contribution to those who were denied education - to achieve basic literacy. It is only through working together that we can do more for our people. To all graduates, your schooling has come full cycle but never allow it to tamper with your education, because that never ends. Congratulations to all.
I leave you with the wise words of Martin Luther King, Jr. who once said: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”
I thank you.