Programme Director, Mr Henny Botha
Ward Councillor, Cllr Ms Rau,
The Principal, Mrs Meyer
SGB Chairperson, Mrs Pamela Bossr
Guest Speaker, Ms Sanet Nowers,
Pastor, Phillip Voegt,
Rosewood Primary School Teachers and Parents
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my singular honour and a privilege to be in the province of the Western Cape again to officially open the 10th state-of-the-art school. This school is part of the ANC led government ground-breaking infrastructure built programme dubbed Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI).
Today, I am honoured to be among the community Bonteheuwel on their special occasion. We were in this province last week to officially handover the Kasselsvlei Primary School to the Bellville community. The jubilation that one witnessed in Bellville among both the young and old convinced us that we are indeed on the right trajectory to restore pride to our people through building the state-of-the-art schools.
The co-founder of the world’s largest PC software company, Microsoft, Bill Gates correctly summed up the importance of education, he said: “As we enter the twenty-first century, it is clear that education is, indeed, the best investment that we can make, for an information economy depends upon a knowledgeable, skilled, educated workforce. The better educated our students are, the better we will perform economically.”
Today it is the turn of the community Bonteheuwel to experience first-hand the tangible fruits of living in a democracy. We are indeed restoring the promise of freedom through this massive investment in the future of this community. As I mentioned earlier the Rosewood Primary School is part of the ASIDI programme whose singular mission is to eradicate schools built from inappropriate materials such as 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
In the Western Cape alone the ASIDI programme is poised to deliver 25 state-of-the-art schools especially for the previously disadvantaged communities.
Nationally, ASIDI has delivered 97 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.
Throughout the length and breadth of our beautiful country we seek to deliver 527 state-of-the-art schools like this one. 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. We have already provided water to 380 schools, sanitation to 367 schools and electricity to 289 schools all of them for the first time ever!
Programme Director it is important to repeat this point as I always do when we open an ASIDI School. ASIDI is more than just brick and mortar but a programme to fundamentally change the learning landscape of underprivileged communities. We are now creating learning spaces of excellence. We are restoring the dignity of rural and underprivileged communities. We are creating chances for rural and underprivileged children to have decent structures and quality education so that they too can reap the rewards of a Better Life for All that often other people talk about.
I am informed that this community is facing social ills such as the scourge of gangsterism, crime, and drug usage amongst others. I am also informed that the whole area is economically depressed. These are serious challenges facing not only this community but many across the previously disadvantaged areas of the Western Cape. I do not have a silver bullet to solve these social ills. However, I have an honour to serve as a Deputy Minister of Basic Education and I have very important words to say to parents and learners about the importance of education.
Programme Director we take pride in the fact as we mark the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter the ANC led government is working hard to fulfil the Charter’s most important declaration that: “Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened.”
Programme Director even our internationally celebrated 1996 Constitution enjoins this government to provide quality education to all our children irrespective of social or economic status; irrespective of colour or creed; irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.
Importance of Education
Therefore, opening classroom doors to all children, especially girls, helps to break the inter-generational chains of poverty.
Education empowers women and girls: The economic and personal empowerment that education provides allows women and girls to make healthier choices for themselves and their families. The United Nations Population Fund says that the benefits of education for girls include a reduction in poverty and an improvement of the health of women and their children, as well as the potential to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS (UNFPA, 2010).
According to the Bread for the World Hunger Report (Bread for the World, 2005), expanding education for girls is also one of the most powerful ways of fighting hunger. The report concludes that gains made in women’s education made the most significant difference in reducing malnutrition, even out-performing a simple increase in the availability of food.
Education contributes to improving child survival and maternal health: Research undertaken by the World Bank (2004) indicates that a child born to an educated mother is more than twice more likely to survive to the age of five than a child born to an uneducated mother. Educated mothers are also 50% more likely than mothers with no schooling to immunise their children against diseases (World Bank, 2004).
Education contributes to the fight against HIV/AIDS: A report by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE, 2004) asserts that educated people are healthier people. HIV/AIDS infection rates are halved among young people who finish primary school. Thus, if every child received a complete primary school education, at least seven million new cases of HIV could be prevented during the course of a decade.
Education helps to fight poverty and spur economic growth: Education is a prerequisite for tackling poverty and promoting short and long-term economic growth. No country has achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without at least 40% of adults being able to read and write (GCE, 2010).
At an individual level, a person’s earnings increase with each additional year of schooling they receive. This is especially true for additional years of higher education. Thus, people who are educated are able to earn more money and support their families, which helps economies to grow faster and poverty rates to decline.
Education provides a foundation for building peace: Education is an essential building block in the development of an inclusive and peaceful democratic society. According to a report by Save the Children (2009), every year of schooling decreases a male’s chance of engaging in violent conflict by 20%.
Investment in Rosewood Primary School
The ANC led people’s government invested a total of R45 million to rebuild Rosewood Primary School. This is a massive investment into the future of this community. The children of this community now have 45 million reasons not to do drugs, not join gangs, not to do crime but to build a solid foundation based on quality education provided for by this government.
Equally pleasing is that today’s handover occurs the same year as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the late President Nelson Mandela affectionately known as Madiba’s release from 27 years of prison. Upon his release Madiba pledged to dedicate the remaining years of his life in the service of humanity. We are glad to confirm that he did exactly that without fail. We are called upon to emulate the words and deeds of Madiba. He gave to the world without any expectation of monetary reward or glory.
School Governing Bodies’ Elections
Programme Director; this brings me to one important aspect of our basic education system i.e. the involvement of parents in the day to day management of schools. This is through building vibrant and democratic School Governing Bodies.
The 2015 SGBs elections are upon us. This is the third largest exercise of our democratic voting rights in our country after the Local Government elections. There are roughly 23 000 schools participating in these elections and we expect around 250 000 SGB members to be elected though this process.
The outcome of the national SGBs elections will net more democratically elected officials than the National Assembly, Provincial Legislatures, and Local Municipalities combined. It is a massive logistical process. We can assure you today that it’s all systems go. We are ready. We have no doubt in our minds that you as members of the community are also ready. These in fact are your schools attended by your children. Our legal obligation as a caring government is provide the necessary resources to make quality education happen in the classrooms across the length and breadth of our land. It is an obligation we take very seriously. In fact it is an honour to serve.
The actual 2015 School Governing Bodies’ elections began last week Friday, and will run until the 28th of March.
This is an exciting period in the education calendar to see parents renewing their commitment in supporting the education of their children. I call upon all parents to participate in this democratic process by voting and/or standing as candidates.
In conclusion, I must reiterate especially to the press and adults here, that our 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.