Programme Director: Adv. P.H. Malakoane
Free-State Premier: Mr E.S. Magashule
MECs for Education
Executive Mayor Councillor: Ms S.M. Mlamleli
AVBOB Chief Executive Officer: Mr F. Rademan
AVBOB Assistant General Manager: Ms K. Mosweusweu
Manager, Mandela day and Outreach: Mr Y. Godlo
School Governing Body Chairperson: Mr L Bosman
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed my singular honour and privilege to be accorded the opportunity to be part of this important event, the commemoration of the 8th Nelson Mandela International Day. It was launched on his birthday, 18 July, in 2009 via a unanimous decision by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
This day as we know commemorates the lifetime of selfless service and sacrifice that President Nelson Mandela gave to the people of South Africa and the world at large. This day immortalises Mandela's "values and his dedication to the service of humanity" and acknowledging his contribution "to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world". His life was dedicated to the building of a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa and a just world order. It is therefore a solemn moment to remember with fondness this colossal, gentle giant and humble soul. This day calls upon all of us to remember the less fortunate, the sick and vulnerable so that we can remake our world to be a better place.
Quite correctly, Programme Director, the Nelson Mandela Foundation has decided to dedicate this year’s International Mandela Day on fighting poverty. We have been asked to take action against poverty in a way that will bring about sustainable change. This is critical because poverty as we know wears down the human spirit, robs people of their dignity, and limits one’s potential to contribute meaningfully to the life of the nation.
Programme Director; I am somewhat overwhelmed by the occasion. There is a sense of unease that history has bestowed upon me – a mere mortal - this important task to deliver a keynote address on this important human achievement. On the 10th of May, 1994, in his inaugural address as the first democratically elected Head of State, President Mandela said: “Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.”
Today, we plead with the gods to help us to reaffirm our resolve to be benevolent, work hard, and remain selfless servants of the people so that every day marks yet another human achievement. May the sun not set on this glorious day! We appeal to the political gods to remind us every day that State resources exist primarily to serve the people. Some of us in the positions of responsibility are merely servants of the people and, quite rightly so, our occupation of political office comes with insecurity of tenure. We shall serve not expecting any glory or unearned riches. There is no reason to applaud a fish for swimming. President Mandela taught us that to lead is a lifelong service to the people. He taught us that you can achieve the status of being referred to as a world statement without having to exhibit the traits of a demigod. The essence of our humanity is found in our humbleness, thrift, courage, self-control and commitment to justice.
Programme Director - this in essence means stealing from the public purse goes against the very essence of humanity and service to our people. We must therefore rebel against those who have launched a relentless assault of brazen theft of the public resources for no other reason other than personal gain – fame and fortune. We must rebel against the veil of secrecy when evidence of looting of State resources hides in plain sight yet no action is forthcoming. We must refuse to be complicit in the snatching of dreams of a better life for the future generation of our people either by act or omission. We have a responsibility not to betray the memory of President Mandela. President Mandela’s legacy cannot die while we live. Hence the statement: “A life well lived is a life lived in the service of humanity,” and I may add for no personal gain whatsoever.
Therefore, we do indeed owe to President Mandela and his generation of freedom fighters a debt of gratitude for the work they did at the great personal costs to themselves with no expectation of recognition, high office and/or material gain. President Mandela during his lifetime rightly earned the title as the greatest liberator of the 20th century hence the UN recognition of his birthday as an International Day.
Programme Director; having paid my dues to the memory of President Mandela, let me fast forward to today’s event. We are gathered here today to launch a ground-breaking multimillion rands Schools Infrastructure Partnership with AVBOB. Today, I am happy to announce that the AVBOB Board has decided to donate R150 million for the renovation, refurbishment and building of schools across the country. This, Programme Director, is the single largest investment in the school infrastructure programme by a corporate since I became Minister of Basic Education. It is important to note that needy learners and communities in all nine provinces will benefit from this contribution.
I must be honest; the announcement by the AVBOB Board of this investment in school infrastructure came as no surprise to me. Our partnership with AVBOB is one that has flourished from strength to strength, and the work we are doing together is truly changing lives and shaping future generations. AVBOB has become truly a strategic partner and dependable ally in the delivery of quality public schooling.
Programme Director, the importance of investing in physical infrastructure cannot be overemphasised. Our Action Plan to 2019 Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030 - in particular Goal 24 of the said Programme of Action states clearly that:
“We must ensure that the physical infrastructure and environment of every school inspire learners to want to come to school and learn, and teachers to teach.”
We know from experience that poorly designed schools give an impression that learners are reflection of their school: undervalued, worthless, dirty and uncared for.
Our strategic partnership with AVBOB started in earnest when we made a clarion call to all social partners for the increase investment in the library services through the launch of the 1000 School Libraries per annum project. AVBOB was amongst the first in the corporate sector space to partner with us. Today, AVBOB is the single largest contributor of fully functional container libraries to primary schools. The value of container libraries is worth approximately R 500 000 each to schools all over South Africa. Each Converted Container Library comes with a whopping 2500 Books each, thus benefiting thousands of our learners.
To celebrate the 2016 International Nelson Mandela Day, AVBOB collaborated with us to bring about change in the lives of learners at the Thlasedi Primary School, north of Pretoria. I am happy to repeat for posterity that the Thlasedi Primary School was refurbished, provided with dignified sanitation and library infrastructure complete with books.
It is clear to us that AVBOB takes corporate citizenship very seriously. AVBOB understands the significance of basic education in a life of a nation. It is often stated that basic education is one of the most significant long-term investments a country can make. It lays the foundation for a higher quality of life, greater employment opportunities and a better-skilled workforce. Thus through the latest investment in school infrastructure, it is crystal clear to me that corporate citizenship forms part of the DNA of AVBOB. It is not a nice to have, but a strategic business imperative. The investments made to the public schooling so far have a long lasting impact beyond the newspaper headlines.
Programme Director, the most heartening thing is that when dealing with AVBOB you get a sense of a true partner and a principled corporate citizen committed to socio-economic upliftment and transformation. This is in line with the National Development Plan (NDP) which aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. According to the NDP, South Africa can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society. The key word here is partnerships which draw on the energies of our people to be true liberators themselves.
On behalf of the Government and people of South Africa, we extend our gratitude to the AVBOB family for the role you continuously play in the upliftment of our communities. We send our good wishes well in-advance as you prepare to celebrate your centenary next year. On 15 August 2018, AVBOB will reach a historical milestone, turning 100 years. It is a birthday like no other. Congratulations on the eve of this massive achievement.
Similarly, it is therefore fitting that we launch this ground-breaking investment in the school infrastructure on the day we honour and celebrate the life of Isithwalandwe and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate uTata uMadiba as he was affectionately known. Had he lived, he would have turned 99 years old. Indeed, 1918 will mark the centenary of life and times of this colossal. I therefore propose double centenary celebrations of AVBOB on one hand and Madiba on the other. I am sure the AVBOB Board will think of something special as always.
As we know President Mandela committed his life to the betterment of lives of children, emancipation of women and liberation of mankind. Madiba believed strongly that our ultimate price is to eliminate poverty. He once said:
“As long as many of our people still live in utter poverty, as long as children still live under plastic covers, as long as many of our people are still without jobs, no South African should rest and wallow in the joy of freedom.”
Indeed, today I want to emphasise that we cannot afford to wallow in the ecstasy of freedom as long as many of our people are victims of the "triple challenge" of unemployment, poverty and inequality. There can be no honest corporate organisation that can rest in its laurels and not contribute in some way to the upliftment of our people. It is in fact corporate thuggery not to pay attention to the three Ps: Profit, People and Planet.
Programme Director; I am glad to say without any fear of contradictions that the Basic Education is a strategic stakeholder to AVBOB. There is a realisation on the part of AVBOB that the reality of the situation is that we are unable to achieve all that needs to be done alone as Government, hence the AVBOB strategic partnership with us. In short, we are in this together. The Deputy Minister of Basic Education Mr. Enver Surty once quipped that AVBOB is only corporate giant that will never let us down. Well, that is despite the fact that AVBOB will ultimately as its core business let us all down literally.
Programme Director; the reality of the matter is that strategic partnerships between the Government and corporate organisations require agreement on common objectives hence the emphasis on partnerships.
Henceforth, Programme Director, I want to argue that the most effective strategic partnerships are where partners not only enrich each other but also find ways in which they can mutually benefit. Our singular goal for any partnerships in the basic education sector is to create space for social partners and the corporate organisations to assist in realising the achievement of Delivery Outcome 1 i.e. “Improved Quality of Basic Education”.
Our strategic partnership with AVBOB fits faultlessly within this framework of a mutually beneficial symbiosis. We, therefore owe a debt of gratitude to the bright sparks at AVBOB who, daily, work effortlessly to change the lives of our children throughout the country.
Programme Director; it will be amiss of me if I don’t acknowledge the fact that AVBOB’s partnership and strategic relationship with us extends to many educational areas both curricula and extra-curricular. For instance, AVBOB is our strategic partner in the ABC Motsepe Schools Eisteddfod, Spelling BEE, National Teaching Awards, and the Ministerial Announcement of the National Senior Certificate Results.
We thank you kindly for this generosity and I may add, wise investment in the future of our country. As the Ministry of Basic Education, we are truly indebted to AVBOB for the brain power, innovation and financial injection behind our strategic relationship and partnership. You’re indeed the pioneers in the space of responsible corporate citizenship and building lasting strategic relationships.
In conclusion, I wish that our partnership in education continues to flourish so that in our lifetime we can realise our mission of providing State-funded quality education for all. We are very excited to be where we are, we agreed, we would work together to Move Education Forward, and we are doing so daily without any fanfare.
I thank you.