Free State Education MEC Tate Makgoe
School Principal Mr M. Magagula
School Governing Body Chairperson and Members
The Community of Kroonstad and its Leadership,
Parents and Learners
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
Programme Director and Distinguished Guests I am privileged to have an opportunity to address an event of this nature – an official opening of the Dorington Matsepe Primary School.
Government Message against Xenophobia
However, before, we proceed, Programme Director allow me to congratulate the people of the Free State for being the true embodiments of peace and co-existence which are foundational to our democracy. I congratulate this province because there has been no single incident of xenophobia reported. Three days ago, our fledgling democracy reached adulthood as it turned 21 years. However, our celebrations were dispirited as the country is still reeling from the aftermaths of the senseless and inhuman treatment of our brothers and sisters from the rest of the continent of Africa.
On behalf of the people of South Africa - who have come out in their numbers to oppose that which misrepresent the ethos of our democracy, and Government of South Africa, we pass our condolences to all local and foreign nationals who have perished in the wake of this dastardly deed.
Programme Director and Ladies and Gentlemen, it should be remembered that South Africa’s transition to democracy was one of the world’s most iconic testimonies of tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Under the stewardship of the late President Nelson Mandela the country had an unwavering dedication to democracy, selflessness, reconciliation, service to humanity and a better life for all.
The recent attacks on foreign nationals are a threat to our historical achievements as a nation. Moreover, the attacks go against the democratic values enshrined in our world renowned 1996 Constitution.
Attacks on foreign nationals since the start of the year were reported in Soweto, Benoni, Atteridgeville, and Khayelitsha. The situation has been recently worsened following the attacks on foreign nationals in KwaZulu-Natal in areas such as Isipingo, Chatsworth, Umlazi, Inanda and Kwa-Dukuza.
These attacks have led to the displacement of thousands of foreign nationals and a public outcry that foreign run businesses are not being allowed to operate in certain areas.
Government condemns the violence in the strongest possible terms. The attacks violate all the values that South Africa embodies, especially the respect for human life, human rights, human dignity and Ubuntu. These attacks are unacceptable and should not be tolerated by any of us.
A high level government team has been mandated by President Jacob Zuma to speedily deal with the situation and address the underlying causes. In the immediate term, the police and army have been directed to work round the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens and to arrest looters, and those committing acts of violence.
President Zuma has tasked the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster Ministers together with Ministers of Small Business Development, Trade and Industry and Social Development to engage all the relevant parties to seek a solution. The ministers have also been tasked to deal with the underlying socio-economic conditions which seem to be at the heart of these attacks, so that this matter can be dealt with decisively and comprehensively.
We honestly believe as Madiba eloquently summed it up:
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI)
Now, turning my attention to the joyous occasion, it is indeed my singular honour and a privilege to be here in the Free State province to officially open the 1th Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) state-of-the-art school in this province.
ASIDI is the public-private programme, one of the government's Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs). It was conceptualized by the Department of Basic Education Ministry and launched by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma four years ago. The singular mission of this ground-breaking infrastructure build programme of the ANC led government is to eradicate schools built from inappropriate materials such as those built of asbestos, wood, mud, etc.
However, because ASIDI is more than just brick and mortar programme, all ASIDI schools are provided with dignified sanitation, drinking water, electricity, computers, laboratories and other basic amenities. Essentially, this programme seeks to restore the pride and dignity of our communities that were previously neglected by the apartheid regime.
Throughout the length and breadth of our beautiful country we seek to deliver 527 state-of-the-art schools through ASIDI. By the time we complete this mammoth task we would have provided water, sanitation and electricity to 1000 schools as part of restoring dignity to our people.
In the Free State province alone ASIDI is poised to deliver 30 state-of-the-art schools especially for the previously disadvantaged communities.
Nationally, ASIDI has delivered 107 state-of-the-art facilities in rural and economically depressed areas to give all our children a more equal shot at life. These are indeed dividends of democracy.
Through ASIDI, we have completed 84 schools in the Eastern Cape, 12 in the Western Cape, four each in Mpumalanga and Free State, two in Limpopo and one in the Northern Cape.
However, today’s official opening is a special one. It marks the 100th school handed over to the communities since the programme was launched in 2012. We do indeed have a Good Story to Tell. The total investment in this school alone is R72, 5 million. The school boasts of specialist classrooms such as computer and science laboratories. We have also modern ablution facilities including toilets for the disabled people. These facilities far exceed the Infrastructure Minimum Norms and Standards.
ASIDI Community Empowerment
I am pleased that all key pillars of a typical ASIDI programme were followed in the construction of this school. I am informed that 455 local people were employed during the construction period, of which 76 were women and a whopping 285 were young people. All materials used also were sourced locally.
The Year of the Freedom Charter
Equally pleasing is that the official opening of the Dorington Matsepe Primary School as the 100th ASIDI School coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter unambiguously declared that, “The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be opened!” It further unequivocally said, “Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children”.
Speaking during the launch of the first batch of ASIDI Schools in the Eastern Cape, President Zuma made it clear that these schools are a community treasure. Zuma said:
“We would also like to invite communities to make more use of our schools. Remember they are public schools, not state schools! Use them after hours, for social, cultural, religious or sporting activities. Make them the centre of your community – a place that children feel at home. School sport events, or music festivals, create a wonderful sense of community spirit, and help also to seal some of the gashes that remain in the fabric of our society”.
Parents are Integral Part of a Successful School
Today, I also invite the community of Kroonstad to place a premium on the value of education here. This means parents must play an active role in the life of this school in particular and education of their children in general. This may include monitoring that educators are in class on time teaching for at least seven hours a day. Parents must ensure that children do their homework and arrive at school on time, pay attention during the learning process, respecting the school property and educators. Collectively, the community must ensure safety and security of this new school. You must also ensure that quality learning takes place. It is your responsibility to jealously guard these facilities as they now belong to you all.
Focus on Reading
Teachers and Learners please note that reading is the Alpha and Omega of foundational learning. The International Reading Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (1998) confirm that the first eight years of a child's life are the most important years for literacy development and those developmentally appropriate practices at home and at school are crucial for ensuring that children become successful readers.
Literacy-rich environments, both at home and at school, are important in promoting literacy and preventing reading difficulties. In literacy-rich home environments, parents and caregivers provide children with occasions for daily reading, extended discourse (extensive talking or writing).
In literacy-rich classrooms, teachers incorporate the characteristics of literacy-rich home environments, and use grouping for learning, developmentally appropriate practices and literacy routines. In addition, they have classroom designs that continue to encourage reading and writing learning centres and engaged learning activities.
Learners must Value Education
Let me now talk directly to the learners – this new school is also yours. It is your ticket to a better future. There are a few non-negotiables that I want to outline; firstly embrace the culture of reading and respect and honour books. Secondly, do not steal books from your Library. Do not mess with Laboratory equipment. Lastly, I urge you to focus on gateway subjects such as Mathematics, Science and Technology.
In conclusion, I must reiterate especially to the press and adults here, that the ASIDI programme goes beyond brick and mortar. The building of these schools and provision of services is as much about breaking up with the past as it is about healing the wounds of apartheid education. As I said earlier, ultimately this is about the restoration of dignity for our people and laying the ground for a better future so that our children can enjoy and benefit from the fruits of a living in a democratic society.
I thank you.