Principal Mr. Julius Swart
SGB Chairperson and Members
Parents and Learners
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
I consider it a singular honour and a privilege to be in the province of the Western Cape to officially open yet another state-of-the-art school, namely the Hawston Primary school. Here in the Western Cape alone we have successfully replaced 23 schools that were built from inappropriate materials. We have through building the state-of-the-art school infrastructure restored the dignity of our learners, communities and nation at large.
In Action Plan to 2019 Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030. It is clear that our school infrastructure build programme is beginning to bear fruits for our people. The accelerated school infrastructure build programme is part and parcel of our comprehensive Programme of Action as encapsulated 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.”
Experts call this a positive school environment. A positive school environment is defined as a school having appropriate facilities, well-managed classrooms, available school-based health supports, and a clear, fair disciplinary policy. We know from experience that poorly designed schools give an impression that learners are reflection of their school: undervalued, worthless, dirty and uncared for.
Programme Director; directly linked to the physical infrastructure, the Programme of Action as stated in Goal 25 enjoins us to:
“Use schools as vehicles for promoting access to a range of public services amongst learners in areas such as health, poverty alleviation, psychosocial support, sport and culture.”
In this regard, we already have a package of care and support services available to all schools. I am glad that this school is part and parcel of our pro-poor initiatives such as:
“No fee school policy, availability of the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) and other health initiatives such as the National School Deworming Programme and National School Hygiene Programme amongst others.”
As a result of improved infrastructure, and pro-poor interventions, a higher proportion of younger children are accessing classroom facilities throughout the country.
, we had to have a focussed programme to undo the legacy of apartheid education mismanagement and poor infrastructure planning. This legacy meant that our learners were learning under the trees, and some schools were constructed from inappropriate materials (mud, Action Plan to 2019 Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030Programme Director; I must say to achieve the Goals as stated in the plankie, and asbestos).
ASIDI is an R8.2 billion public-private Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI).In this regard, we conceptualised and launched the much vaunted programme, and is one of the government's Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs). The objective of ASIDI is to eradicate the Basic Safety Norms backlog in schools without water, sanitation and electricity and to replace those schools constructed from inappropriate materials (mud, plankie, asbestos) to contribute towards levels of optimum learning and teaching. The Schools Infrastructure Backlog Grant (SIBG) funds the ASIDI portfolio.
To date, the ASIDI programme has delivered 179 state-of-the-art schools; another batch of 100 schools will be completed in the 2017/18 financial year. A total of 615 schools have been provided with water since the inception of the project during late 2011; 425 schools have received decent sanitation and 307 schools have been connected to electricity for the first time. The ASIDI programme continues to deliver a dividend of democracy to communities across rural South Africa and in urban but underprivileged areas.
Most importantly, the state-of-the-art schools that have been delivered under ASIDI programme are in economically depressed communities. This is another legacy of apartheid whereby there was a massive forced removal of our people from economically viable areas into the barren land as part of the ill-fated Group Areas Act madness.
As a result therefore, the new post-apartheid democratic government is battling the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. The triple challenges weigh heavily on the social, political and economic fabric of the country resulting in most cases to what we have come to know as “social ills.” A "social ill" is a term synonymous with the phrase "social problem" or "social issue." A social problem exists when a condition is undesirable to some members of a community, according to researchers. Examples of some social ills include crime, gangsterism, bullying, racism, delinquency, discrimination, family disintegration, drug addiction, poverty and homelessness.
We are alive to the fact that there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of people too traumatised by gang violence they've either witnessed or endured to even walk to the closest shop to buy bread.
There are scores of parents who live with the trauma and lifelong loss of their children, shot or knifed to death in gang warfare. Many of these children were not gangsters themselves; they were killed because they refused to join a gang or were caught in crossfire.
Sadly, research indicate that Gangs have recently turned their attention directly to schools in this province and use learners as their medium for drug sales and the school premises as a place for substance abuse. Almost 63 % of 133 schools reported gang violence and robbery, as the gangs regard schools as a non- threatening niche which provides a “captive audience.” Two in every five schools reported the presence of drug merchants and peddling.
According to the Provincial Commander of Operation Combat – the specialised SAPS Western Cape anti-gang strategy unit, Major General Jeremy Vearey, - Gangs were most often formed by children seeking physical protection from threats in their communities, However, Vearey argues that these youth groupings now get “perverted in a gang environment – with the money, the drugs, the girls,” and the children become easy targets for recruiting when so-called Cape Flats ‘super gangs’ such as the Americans and the HLs (Hard Livings) require hitmen for their drug and turf wars.
In essence, young people – these learners – are primary targets to be induced into joining gangs.
It is more frightening that for some children going to school – a right guaranteed in our Constitution - can be a life-threatening activity due to gang activity.
Programme Director; the situation is dire especially when it comes to drug use and its related anti-social manifestations. According to the Medical Research Council (MRC), 98% of Tik addicts who seek help in South Africa come from the Western Cape. The highest user level is found among those who are under 19 years old. The link between Tik use and risky sexual behaviour has been outlined by the MRC. It is reported that Tik users are more likely to have sex whilst under the influence of a substance or substances (alcohol and/or drugs), they are more likely to have multiple sexual partners, they are more likely to have sex at a younger age and they are more likely to trade sex for drugs.
Programme Director; let me make the same appeal I always make here in the Western Cape and elsewhere:
“My appeal is simple. My dear children, I appeal to all of you to desist from taking up membership of Gangs. Do not do drugs. Do not use alcohol. Do not do crime. Say no bullying. Please stay within these safe school walls and work towards building your future.”
We have established that there is a correlation between gang membership, drug use and crime. None of these can prepare you for a bright future beyond this neighbourhood. It is only education that has the power to break the intergenerational scourge of poverty and spur an individual into a bright future – free of drugs, crime and violence.
Programme Director; there is an established correlation between higher level of education and lessening of poverty. Research says, if those living in poverty can get an education, they can pull themselves out of those living conditions. They can find a job and earn an income, which is a key part to ending poverty. They can become self-sufficient and independent from outside prevailing circumstances. In essence an education is an invaluable tool for anyone living in gang infested neighbourhood, high crime rate communities, and generally in poverty today. We as Government are doing everything in our power to assist communities like Hawston to be part of the Better Life narrative. As the Department of Education, we are no longer bringing brick and mortar, ASIDI schools are helping to restore dignity and pride for people who had gone far too long deprived of facilities that are taken for granted elsewhere.
Programme Director; today’s handover occurs at the time when South Africa celebrates one of its finest sons, namely Mr. Oliver Reginald Tambo, better known as O.R Tambo. This year marks the centenary of the late President and National Chairperson of the ANC, Mr. O.R Tambo, an international icon and hero of the South African liberation struggle. His virtues and legacy contributes fundamentally to the freedom we now enjoy and have been instrumental in shaping our aspiration of the society we strive for, two decades into our democracy.
Programme Director; Vision 2030, our National Development Plan (NDP), contains the promise of a South African society that has equal opportunities for all – a thriving economy that creates jobs, an educational system that produces literate and numerate citizens, and a socially cohesive society at peace with itself. The NDP is an anchor in our quest to create a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa - a vision passionately pursued relentlessly by O.R Tambo. In the name of Comrade O.R. we rededicate ourselves to working with our people to ensure that his legacy of thrift, hard work and selflessness continue unabated.
To conclude on social ills, I must warn that they are all interlinked. Researchers have concluded that adolescents who use alcohol and other drugs are more likely to engage in unsafe sex than are adolescents who abstain from using them. It is a known fact that learners/children who are subjected to violence at school or home are likely to internalise the use of violence as a means to solve problems. Of course, violence begets violence which in turn leads to gangsterism and bullying.
Let me caution teachers against the administering of corporal punishment. It is anti-social, unacceptable and most importantly illegal. I urge learners to respect the school property, desists from being members of gangs, not to do drugs but instead focus on their education.
Finally, O.R Tambo warned us thus:
“The children of any nation are its future. A country, a movement, a person that does not value its youth and children does not deserve its future.”
Programme Director, now I declare the Hawston Primary school officially open for business. I thank you!