Programme Director: Mr. V.A. Joseph
Mayor of Port St Johns Municipality: Cllr. Nomvuzo Mlombile-Cingo
MPL, and Chairperson of the Eastern Cape Legislature’s Education Portfolio Committee: Mr. Mzoleli Mrara,
Local Councillor: Mr. Zolile Maqhina
Principal Ms. Gcobisa Ngcangula
SGB Chairperson: Mr. D. Nazela and Members
Parents and Learners
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my singular honour and a privilege to be in the province of the Eastern Cape to officially open yet another state-of-the-art school.
I have had the honour to be in this province many a times before in the line of my work. Every-time, I come here it feels like I am returning home. I am of course not like the proverbial prodigal son in the Bible. I am returning home bearing gifts. However, the abiding memory remains the time I was here for the official opening of the Bhungu Primary School in November, 2016. The launch of new schools offers some sort of catharsis for an educationist inside me. Above all that I like this province because it has carved a niche for itself, after it has relentlessly produced a long list of finest revolutionaries including our Nobel Peace Prize Laureate uTata Nelson Mandela and uMama Albertina Sisulu to name (but) a few.
Programme Director; before we proceed allow me; to convey our deepest condolences to the basic education sector as a whole and people of the Eastern Cape in particular following the sudden departure of the MEC for Education Mandla Makupula. The late MEC Makupula played a pivotal role during our struggle against the apartheid regime, and in the continuous project to transform our country into an oasis of peace, freedom and happiness.
In him, we have lost our brightest star. He had the finest revolutionary family pedigree with a strong struggle credentials yet, he remained a true servant of the people. MEC Makupula was an embodiment of hope, and shining example that hard work and humility are best friends. May his soul rest in eternal peace!!!
Programme Director; 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 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, the no fee school policy, the availability of the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) and other health initiatives such as the National School Deworming Programme, 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 focus programme to undo the legacy of apartheid education mismanagement and poor infrastructure planning. This legacy meant that our learners were learning under the trees, some schools were constructed from inappropriate materials (mud, plankie, and asbestos).
In this regard, we conceptualised and launched the much vaunted the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI). ASIDI is a 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. The overall intention is to replace those schools built from inappropriate materials such as mud, plankie, asbestos. We believe that this new infrastructure will contribute towards levels of optimum learning and teaching in our schools.
To date, the ASIDI programme has delivered 210 state-of-the-art schools throughout the country. I am glad to announce that more than half of the new schools are here in the Eastern Cape. In addition, the ASIDI programme alone has completed 468 sanitation projects with another 422 in construction. One hundred and eighty two projects are at planning, design and procurement stage.
We have recently launched a fast track programme dubbed Appropriate School Sanitation Campaign (SAFE) to eradicate pit latrines. The purpose of the campaign is to provide safe sanitation facilities for all our learners. We must without undue delay restore dignity to rural and under-privileged urban school-going children and teachers. To this end we have mobilised over R220 Million from the private sector. President Cyril Ramaphosa has made available funds to complete 1 100 sanitation projects in this current financial year alone. The ASIDI programme continues to deliver a dividend of democracy to communities across rural South Africa and in urban but underprivileged areas.
Programme Director; in conclusion, this year we mark the centenaries of the two illustrious son and daughter of the African sun, uMaSisulu and President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Had they lived, both would have turned 100 years old this year.
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.
In her 92 years on this earth, MaSisulu like her husband Walter before her – left a legacy of leadership with moral authority because there was complete consistency in her public and private life. She never preached what she did not practice, and told people what they needed to know, not what they wanted to hear. She did no pander to any constituencies to boost her own political popularity.
MaSisulu made many outstanding contributions to the struggle but of course the history making epoch was her participation as an organiser and a participant in the famous march of 20 000 protesters to the Union Building on 9 August 1956.
Programme Director, in the same vein, this year we also honour the finest son of the African soil, President Nelson Mandela. Madiba 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 in which the social and economic barriers that have separated black from white South Africans are torn down. 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, which earned him the recognition as a global statesman. To this end, he amassed many accolades including the esteemed Isithwalandwe- the highest honour that can be bestowed on the ANC leader, the Order of Mapungubwe (Platinum) and the Nobel Peace Prize amongst many others. At home and abroad, he remains a symbol of peace and doyen of democracy. It is no coincidence that today; we invoke the name of uTata as we open a school for children. He once declared that democracy must be, ‘measured by the happiness and welfare of the children, at once the most vulnerable citizens in any society and the greatest of our treasures.’
Finally, as we honour MaSisulu and President Mandela let’s do so not only in words, but, more importantly, in direct action towards the achievement of their shared vision of a better society. We should honour Madiba and MaSisulu by putting behind us, “the era of discord, disunity and disillusionment.”