Programme Director: Mr. Abel Appel
Deputy Director-General: Education Planning, Mr. Archie Lewis
District Director: Metropole North, Mr. David Millar
School Principal, Ms. N. Bokweni and Teachers
SGB Chairperson, Mr. Ronald Oelf and Members
SADTU Provincial Secretary, Mr. Jonovan Rustin
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 Delft South Primary School. Here in the Western Cape alone we have successfully replaced 25 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.
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 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.”
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 support services, 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 for teaching and learning available to all deserving schools and communities. I am glad that this school is part and parcel of our pro-poor initiatives such as:
“No fee school policy, the 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.
Programme Director; I must say to achieve the Goals as stated in the Action Plan to 2019 Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030, 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, plankie, and asbestos).
In this regard, we conceptualised and launched the much vaunted Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI). ASIDI is an R8.2 billion public-private 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. But, at the heart of ASIDI is the replacement of all those schools constructed from inappropriate materials (mud, plankie, asbestos) thus contributing towards levels of optimum learning and teaching.
To date, the ASIDI programme has delivered just over 205 state-of-the-art schools. A total of 685 schools have been provided with reliable water supply, some 486 schools have been provided with decent sanitation facilities, and 372 schools have been connected to the electricity grid for the first time. The ASIDI programme continues to deliver a dividend of democracy to communities across the rural South Africa’s landscape as well as in depressed urban spaces.
This is but just one of the enduring legacies of apartheid especially its ill-fated Group Areas Act which resulted in massive forced removals of our people from economically viable areas into the barren lands.
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 who are too traumatised by gang violence that they've either witnessed or endured. It can’t be right that some amongst us even fear to 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 the continuing 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 indicates that Gangs have recently turned their attention directly to schools in this province and use learners as their medium for drug sales on the school.
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, and the girls.” Thus our children become easy targets for recruiting when the 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 also 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 to bullying. Please stay within these safe school walls and work towards building your future.”
We have also 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 Delft South 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 the centenary birthday of two of South Africa’s most revered icons: uMama Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu and former President Nelson Mandela.
Programme Director, the Transkei region of the Eastern Cape has become an iconic space in the South African landscape because of the many struggle stalwarts that were born in that area.
Both Tata Nelson Mandela and MaSisulu Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu were born in that region. Coincidentally, MaSisulu also married her homeboy, the late revolutionary and anti-apartheid activist uTata Walter Sisulu. At the time of her birth, no-one could have predicted that both Madiba and MaSisulu’s path will cross as they both became foremost anti-apartheid activists and leaders of the ANC. History records that even at a young age MaSisulu took care of her younger siblings. She showed strong maternal instincts and this continued throughout her illustrious political career. MaSisulu leadership qualities and maternal instincts underlined the respect she earned during the struggle when she was referred to as ‘Mother of the Nation’.
MaSisulu through her remarkable life and outstanding contribution, she defined what it means to be a freedom fighter, a leader and a diligent and disciplined servant of the people. Through her leadership, she embodied the fundamental link between national liberation and gender emancipation. As we mark her centenary, we reaffirm that no liberation can be complete, and no nation can be free until its women are free.
MaSisulu made many outstanding contributions to the struggle but of course the history making epoch was her participation as an organiser in the famous march of 20 000 protesters to the Union Building on 9 August 1956. The historic march was a protest against extension of the carrying of passes to women.
Despite her remarkable charm and hard work for the movement, Ma Sisulu had no sense of self-importance, and seldom blew her own trumpet. Instead she emptied herself in mentoring generations of women activists.
Programme Director, in the same vein, this year we also honour the finest son of the African soil, President Nelson Mandela. Madiba as he was affectionately known was a member and leader of the African National Congress. He dedicated his life to the struggle for the liberation of his people and the people of the world.
Madiba’s humility, compassion and humanity earned him the love and respect of the people of South Africa, Africa and the world. His abiding vision was for a society where no person was exploited, oppressed or despised by another. His life was dedicated to the building of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa and a just world order.
It was this selfless service, Programme Director, that earned him the recognition as a global statesman and the many accolades bestowed upon him including the esteemed Isithwalandwe- the highest honour that can be bestowed on the ANC leader, Member of the Order of Mapungubwe and the Nobel Peace Prize amongst many others.
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 and an educational system that produces literate and numerate citizens. Equally, it enjoins us to build 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 both MaSisulu and Madiba. In the name of MaSisulu and Madiba, we rededicate ourselves to working with our people to ensure that his legacy of thrift, hard work and selflessness continue unabated.
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.
Programme Director, now I declare the Delft South Primary School officially open for business.
I thank you.