Address by Deputy Minister Mfeketo during the Back to School Program at Bonga Primary School, 11 January 2017, Gugulethu, Cape Town

Program Director
Principle of Bonga Primary School
The School Governing Body
Ambassadors present today
Parents and members of the Community
A happy New year to you all

It is indeed a testimony to our need to deliver quality education in our lifetime that so many stakeholders have gathered here today for the 2017 back to school program.

Program Director: I would like to begin the day by thanking our host, the principle of Bonga Primary School. A special thank you goes out to the teachers who are the custodians of our children. In your hands lays the future of this country. To the parents and community members who have taken the time to come and show their support, your effort of just being there is invaluable to the learners, teachers and our communities.

To the learners, I hope you understand how important you are by looking around and seeing people from all walks of life who have come here to share in this moment with you. Your parents are here, China is here and Iran is here. We are all here not as a favour to anyone but because we realise that in all these forums where we are planning long term strategies such as BRICS, the UN sustainable goals, FOCAC and AU’s Agenda 2063 at the centre of them all is you. Young boys and girls who will inherit the future of this country, continent and indeed world.

As we begin the school year, you should take time to reflect on your own individual realities and start picturing ways that we can change them as pupils, as staff members and importantly as members of the community.

I know a lot of you are feeling the strain of these difficult times. You know what’s going on in the news and your own family’s lives. You read about the prices of food and electricity going up. You hear about the cost of University fees and wonder if you will ever be able to afford it. You see the anxiety caused by the cost of living in your parents’ faces and sense it in their voice.

Yours is a legacy of South Africa’s past that we seek to address together with school governing bodies, communities members and likeminded ambassadors from countries across the world. Our goal is to see pupils from this school becoming goodwill ambassadors in their communities and eventually represent South Africa as Ambassadors of a united and democratic country.

The first step in all of this however begins with you, it begins with you as learners placing education at the centre of your development. It won’t help any of us if we continue working towards big and long term plans if by the time South Africa achieves it developmental goals, we won’t have youth with enough skills to help and maintain that development.

The second step, is for us to provide the right teacher in front of the right class teaching the right subject, at all times. The right teacher must be solely dedicated to teaching for at least seven hours per school day.

Thirdly, we must provide learners with a safe and engaging environment and ample opportunities to learn, such as – each learner must have access to quality learning materials, safe and appropriate learning spaces, portable water, and appropriate and hygienic sanitation. In fact, we should be personally distressed if some of our children are not getting the quality education they deserve.  Every child must have equal access to education, and an equal chance to succeed.

Fourthly, learners must be in class on time, and equally demonstrate behaviours and skills, such as writing, participating in tasks, reading aloud, reading silently, and asking questions; you should also be attentive, interested, and invested in your learning.

Lastly, learners must enjoy the support of their parents and guardians. Our hope is that we see you as young South African boys and girls take your rightful place as citizens of the world and as internationalist in the calibre of O.R Tambo.

As I conclude program director: I must state that as learners it is important to remember that any liberation you hope for will have to begin with you. Education is the key to liberating the mind and when you are mentally liberated you will have the relevant tools to fight the injustices we face as a society. A liberated mind will be able to defend the gains obtained by our mothers and fathers who have sacrificed their lives in order to create a better tomorrow for you their children.

In your journey through life, we as your parents, teachers and community will be there to guide and assist you. Ours is to make sure that we create an environment that will make you realised your full potential. As educators we should be able to draw out a roadmap in which we plan and work towards attainable goals, such as where will the kids of Bonga Primary School end up in 10 years’ time? Will there be bursaries for those learners who want to go to institutions of higher education? Will those who want to enter business sector have opportunities in countries that we have good relations with?

These are the questions we should be asking ourselves if each and every one of us is to work together to better the lives of all the learners here today. Our commitment should be to ensure that schools are safe heavens from many ills that we see in society. We should nurture our learners so that they may be able to realise their fullest potential and become peacemakers, community builders and a hope for the generation that come after them.

Only then can we say that we have succeeded as parents, only then will we be able to measure the success of our sacrifices.

I Thank You Al

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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