Rev. N. Ramutsheli
Ladies and Gentlemen
Congregants, Family and Friends
It is a great honour for me to address the 2020 Gauteng Provincial Youth Conference of the United African Apostolic Church (UAAC).
Although we are a secular state, the freedom of religion is guaranteed by our 1996 Constitution which turns 24 this year.
The role of the Church in general and United African Apostolic Church in particular in the life of our nation is commendable.
There’s no doubt that this church has become a force for good in human conduct and spirituality in many communities throughout our country and beyond.
Not only do you provide spiritual nourishment to the soul, but you are actively involved in matters of social justice and projects aimed at lessening the burden of the poor.
At the heart of the Christian religion is to reunite man with God. Through the gospel, congregants are empowered to reach their spiritual potential thus achieving optimal existence with their fellow men in peace.
All congregants especially the youth are exhorted by this church to remain pure of human follies. To seek truth and live an honest life.
You’re required to abstain from taking and abusing alcohol, smoking, sexual promiscuity and violence, including xenophobic attacks.
These are noble values in a country as diverse as ours that has its fair share of social ills.
Rev Ramutsheli and congregants, thank you the invitation to share with our young people about opportunities for self-advancement and release from the grind of poverty and hopelessness.
At first, I am going to speak in riddles and parables. Please work with me.
I hope that our young people know about the parables of talents in the Holy Bible.
According to the gospel of Matthew 25:14-30, a Master upon his need to go to a long journey, he called his servants and entrusted to them his property.
We are told that he distributed talents to each of his servants. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one.
The distribution of talents we are told was to each according to his ability.
Then he went away. Upon the Master’s return, he discovered that the servants who had five talents had traded with them, and made five talents more.
So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.
But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money.
Now after a long time the Master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, and so did the others had multiplied their talents except the one who got one talent.
He, who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’
But his Master was livid. He answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
So the Master took the only talent from him and gave it the faithful servants who doubled his five talents to 10 talents.
The Master said for to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.
But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
He then cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness saying in that place, ‘there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Rev Ramutsheli and congregants, this parable teaches young people about the values of hard work and trust in one’s abilities.
It is thus fitting that we converge today in a church environment to talk about the importance of education especially amongst the youth.
By its very nature, education is like a long-term investment into the unknown future.
When you start at the Early Childhood Centre, all children have equal – 10 talents. These are to be developed by each young person according to his/her ability.
But because education is like an ultramarathon, after twelve years of growing one's talent, a whole new world is born.
Suddenly, all children who invested time and effort into their studies are rewarded, each according to their abilities.
Our today’s youth are the most affected by the surge in unemployment as a result of low economic growth, and subdued trading conditions over the last decade.
In 2018, the estimated youth unemployment rate in South Africa was standing at the staggering 52.85 percent, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates.
As government, we aren’t like the Master who cast the lazy servant into outer darkness in a place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Our role is to ensure that no young person is left behind. Our conviction is that all our children are the nation’s precious asset.
In this country, despite challenges, we offer 12 years of free education in about 80 percent of our schools. That’s a whopping nine million learners who don’t pay school fees.
Today, I am making a public plea to all young people to complete their matric, as a start to multiplying their talents.
Because everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.
Don’t be misled by people who say the matric certificate is overrated or useless.
According to pundits the matric certificate, our only exit qualification from the basic education system, after 12 years of teaching and learning has intrinsic value for both individuals and society.
Foreinstance, research indicates that the labour market values the matric certificate, and this positive attitude has remained the same in the post-apartheid era.
Researchers say that the premium to matriculation in terms of earnings and the probability of finding a job has also remained positive.
Clearly there are economic returns to passing matric, particularly because doing so provides access to further education and training which drastically improves one’s labour market prospects.
Researchers insist the worsening labour market outcomes of matriculants should not be confused with a negative valuation of the matriculation certificate relative to fewer years of education.
According to Analytico, a data and earnings consultancy, people with a matric certificate can expect to be paid almost double the salary of someone who has not completed high school.
The research further showed that a tertiary qualification will significantly increase the earning potential of a person.
According to the report:
- Someone with a grade 12 can expect to earn R4, 977 in their first job.
- Someone with a bachelor’s degree increases their starting salary to R8, 270.
Local research suggests that 38% of those with matric as their highest qualification are employed while 54% of those with an education level less than matric are unemployed.
Thus the higher your qualification the less likely you are to be unemployed.
In fact, there are more benefits to the country at large to have its citizens adequately educated.
Education contributes to improving child survival and maternal health: Research undertaken by the World Bank (2004) indicates that a child born to an educated mother is more than twice more likely to survive to the age of five than a child born to an uneducated mother.
Educated mothers are also 50% more likely than mothers with no schooling to immunise their children against diseases (World Bank, 2004).
Education contributes to the fight against HIV/AIDS: A report by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE, 2004) asserts that educated people are healthier people. HIV/AIDS infection rates are halved among young people who finish primary school.
Thus, if every child received a complete primary school education, at least seven million new cases of HIV could be prevented during the course of a decade.
Education helps to fight poverty and spur economic growth: Education is a prerequisite for tackling poverty and promoting short and long-term economic growth.
No country has achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without at least 40% of adults being able to read and write (GCE, 2010).
In short, there is compelling evidence that points to the fact that quality education is central person’s health, quality of life, self-esteem, and the ability of citizens to be actively engaged and empowered.
As I said earlier, no one will be cast into the darkness. And, if you haven’t completed your matric, and you’re over age, cry no more.
To address this challenge, we have designed a Second Chance Matric Programme to cater for all those who haven’t yet achieved this important gateway qualification.
The Programme is intended to provide support to learners who have not been able to meet the requirements of the National Senior Certificate and thereby meeting the goals of the National Development Plan by increasing learner retention.
The overarching objective of the Second Chance Matric Programme is to offer young people who have failed to meet the requirements of the National Senior Certificate, and Senior Certificate a second chance to do so.
We also cater for those who wish to upgrade/improve their National Senior Certificate a second chance to obtain an improved/matric qualification thereby improving quality of life.
The plan provides for three different models of support.
Learners will choose any of these solutions and therefore all learners will not necessarily have face to face lessons.
Learners will choose one or more of these platforms to receive support depending on their location.
Face-to-Face, Television Broadcast solutions (Open view HD and DSTV) and Radio Broadcast Lessons are offered on community radio stations, and Online/Offline Digital support available at 74 Vodacom Teacher Centres, NYDA centres, Thusong Centres, and Libraries.
This programme is also offered for free.
We came with this programme to deal head-on with the worsening fortunes of our youth.
According to the ‘Higher Education and Skills in South Africa’ report released by Statistics South Africa, more than half (or 51%) of youth aged 18–24 claimed that they did not have the financial means to pay for their tuition.
Furthermore, 18% of those aged 18–24 who were not attending educational institutions indicated that their poor academic performance prevented them from participating.
Once you have secured your matric, the world becomes your oyster.
There are fifty registered and accredited public TVET Colleges in South Africa which operate on around 364 campuses spread across the rural and urban areas of the country.
There are 26 universities. They are distributed within all nine provinces of South Africa.
Each province has at least one university, with Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape provinces having just acquired their own institutions during 2014/2015.
As government, we provide fully-subsidised funding for students in all these institutions which covers tuition, learning materials and support for living expenses for eligible students.
This is provided through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
The NSFAS is designed to help poor and vulnerable students with funding allocation until they complete their first undergraduate certificate, diploma or degree.
The beauty of it all is you don’t have to pay back this money. All you’re required to do is to complete your first undergraduate qualification.
In 2020, government is providing R34.5 billion to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme to support students from poor and working-class backgrounds in their studies at public TVET colleges and universities.
All students receive a learning materials allowance, paid on an annual basis.
For 2020, the allowance will be R5 200 per student. This amount is paid in cash to students to allow for student choice in determining their needs;
Students in university owned and managed catering residences receive support for the full residence cost including catering (this amount is paid directly to the institution), as well as the incidental allowance;
In 2020 the incidental allowance will be R290 per month for the ten months of the academic year.
For other students, the incidental allowance is incorporated into the living allowance.
Students in university owned and managed self-catering residences receive support for the full residence cost (paid directly to the institution) and receive the living allowance, which is R1500 per month for the ten months of the academic year;
For the brightest young people with excellent matric results, there’s more, if you decide that you want to study to be a teacher.
There’s a separate bursary scheme called Funza Lushaka Bursary. We pay our young people to learn to become teachers.
Since its inception in 2007 to 2018, the Funza Lushaka Bursary, a multi-year programme to promote teaching as a profession, we have awarded a whopping 134 211 bursaries at a cost of over eight billion rands.
A further thirteen thousand Funza Lushaka bursaries have been awarded to student teachers, this year alone
For computer geeks immersed in the new technologies such as Coding and Robotics, there is a chance to further your studies.
We are in the process of the reprioritisation of the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme’s priority areas.
This is a response to emerging areas of specialisation occasioned by amongst others the 4th Industrial Revolution and new policy imperatives.
Finally, I therefore thank the leadership of the church for allowing me to share some thoughts on the opportunities available for our young people.
I promise that each young person in this country must come to us and claim his ten talents. Multiply your talents through education and conquer the world.
In conclusion, I say seek thy truth and ye shall find. ‘Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way, prosperity will come to you.’
I thank you.