Parents and Learners
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 educational facility, namely the Zanokhanyo Senior Secondary School.
This is part of this administration’s programme to create a positive school environment. One of our key strategy documents says: “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.”
Just yesterday, I was here in this district at the Mahlungulu Primary School to handover a new sanitation project as part of the Sanitation Appropriate for Sanitation (SAFE), a Presidential-lead programme to eradicate pit latrines within the next three years.
In November last year, I was here to handover yet another state-of-the-art educational facility, namely the Dalibango Lower Primary School.
At the time, I spoke about my love for this beautiful province. A province that has produced more than its fair share of finest revolutionaries such as the indomitable lion Oliver Tambo, finest communist, Chris Hani, woman of fortitude, Mama Sisulu, fiery freedom fighter Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela and our global icon former President Nelson Mandela. I call this province my second home.
Fewer things in this line of work warms my heart like handing over to the jubilant communities’ a solid educational infrastructure.
The launch of new school/facility always offers some sort of catharsis for an educationist inside me.
My dream has always been to see our learners and teachers 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. We cannot allow that perception to persist.
The President has said repeatedly that - you learners - are our most valued asset. Hence, we are doing everything humanly possible to provide you with a school environment that nurtures your inner self.
I am very happy to be among you once again, in this lovely and beautiful province. People here are warm and welcoming.
I am also indebted to the governing party, the ANC that has allowed me to serve in this portfolio of Basic Education for the last ten years. It is indeed an honour to serve.
But truth be told, I couldn’t have achieved half the things without the stellar support from all communities, parents, teachers and our greatest asset, the learners. I sincerely thank you.
One of the gravest injustices visited upon the people of this province and many others across the country was poor physical educational infrastructure.
The undeniable legacy of apartheid education is starkly seen in poor infrastructure planning and apartheid spatial planning.
This legacy meant that our learners were learning under the trees, some schools were constructed from inappropriate materials (mud, plankie, and asbestos).
In recognition of this grave injustice and many others, we conceptualised a programme of redress. This programme is known as the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI).
In the nutshell this ASIDI’s core purpose is to replace mud schools and all others built from inappropriate materials. We are not only addressing the issue of classrooms, we also build administration blocks for school principals and management teams. We bring essential services such as water, electricity, and decent sanitation.
Above all, we provide our learners with the 21st century learning tools such as science laboratory, computer lab, nutrition centre, and the media centre amongst others.
I am pleased to report that through our ASIDI programme we have irrevocably changed the landscape of this province.
We have delivered some 155 state-of-the-art schools here in this province alone. During the same period, we have provided water to 319 schools, electricity to 202 schools and sanitation to 199 schools.
We are not only changing the landscape of this province, at the heart of our service delivery programme is to restore the dignity of our people.
With these state-of-the-art schools, we are not only providing superior facilities, but making learning conditions conducive for today’s learners and countless generations to come. If you want to overcome poverty, unemployment and inequality, you must invest in the education of a nation.
I am happy to report that during the construction of this school some 73 locals we given employment and skills. It’s a small token to this community given the unemployment levels that are unacceptably high.
Today, I want to urge you as parents to support your learners. It must be your responsibility to make sure they regularly attend their classes. These are our engineers, pilots, and software developers of the future.
We have a moral responsibility to nurture not limit their dreams. A Better Life for all is attainable, and it starts with you as parents enabling and supporting your children’s dreams.
Today, we officially handover this state-of-the-art school over to you as a community. We expect all learners, teachers and members of the community to guard and protect this important centre of excellence. A school is a repository of the nation’s dreams.
Let’s not conspire to defer the dreams of these learners, and this community. Through your taxes, we have managed to invest just under R42 million in building this state-of-the-art school.
This is a huge investment in any language, and is rightly deserved by the children of Tambo, MaSisulu, Hani and Mandela.
It goes without saying that all stakeholders – parents, learners, community leaders, and police must protect this property against wilful vandalism and criminality.
Programme Director; it is clear that our school infrastructure build programme is beginning to bear fruits for our people.
Nationally, through ASIDI, we have completed 216 state-of-the-art schools and as I speak to you now, some other 100 schools are under construction. We will not be deterred in growing South Africa together. We are proud of our past but equally determined that the future will be much better than yesterday.
As South Africans, we are a resilient people. We survived the recent events in our republic that sowed divisions and uncertainty.
Today, I want appeal to you to embrace the ‘new dawn’. This is a period of renewal and hope for the nation.
You must recall that in the face of an onslaught from the apartheid regime, we didn’t surrender but fought back to the bitter end. Many of our people made an ultimate sacrifice. So our freedom came at a price. Hence we say today no-one is to be allowed to steal our freedom and defer our dreams.
We say, no-one is allowed to steal from our people. No-one is allowed to sell a government post. We must isolate these elements in our communities. Name and shame as it were.
Equally, we must resist the pushback from the State Capture lieutenants. We must insist through the recently freed State agencies such as SARS and the NPA that those who wantonly looted public resources meant for the poor must pay back the money.
We must show no mercy to those who rape, kill and maim our women and children.
We must say, enough and no more to those who attack and steal from our African brothers and sisters in the name of xenophobia.
We must refuse to believe Johnny-come-late whose preoccupation is to see this Government fail. We all know them. They live amongst us.
Yet, as a people, we are not confused, we know our liberators. We understand the mission of those who died in the war.
To this day, we say Asiphelelanga, uphi u Chris Hani? May his soul continue to rest in POWER.
We have a duty to honour the memories of our forebears through selfless service to our people. We derive our mandate to govern from you in relatively peaceful and lawful elections.
We have never imposed ourselves on the people. The seminal document, the Freedom Charter says, The People shall Govern.
In conclusion, Programme Director; directly linked to the physical infrastructure, our Programme of Action 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).
If not yet rolled out, we will inaugurate health initiatives such as the National School Deworming Programme, and National School Hygiene Programme amongst others.
We are certain that as a result of improved infrastructure, and pro-poor interventions, a higher proportion of our children in this region are going to enjoy learning and being kids.
I thank you.