Speaking Notes for Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, during the official hand-over of the Science laboratory and library at Siqongweni Senior Secondary School at Imbali Township in Pietermaritzburg on 11 September 2021

MEC for Education in KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Kwazi Mshengu,
Huawei South Africa CEO, Mr Spawn Fan,
Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Ambassador Chen Xiadong,
Principal of the Siqongweni School, Mr Dlamini,
Members of the School Governing Body,
Learners,

Good Morning,

I am pleased to participate in this momentous occasion which marks the official handover of the Scientific Laboratory and Library to Siqongweni Senior Secondary School. I am really pleased to have the opportunity to be part of this occasion. The promotion of education excellence and access to science is important for our development and I am happy you will have the choice to freely pursue science studies.

We are here today to officially hand over this newly renovated science laboratory and the library, which is one of the three projects promised to the school by President Ramaphosa during his visit here in January 2019.

I understand that the computer laboratory was renovated with the help of the Pietermaritzburg based company, Aberdare Cables.

I was saddened to learn that a few weeks ago, during violent riots, the computer laboratory was broken into and most of the critical infrastructure was stolen.

I commend the police for recovering most of the stolen computers, I also wish to strongly condemn those responsible for the break-ins and the theft of the infrastructure from our schools. This is not only a setback for the government but for the entire community the school serves. It is against this backdrop that we as Government call upon every community to protect our schools from being vandalised and broken into. By breaking into a school, criminals aren’t only stealing the infrastructure but also the dreams of our children.

In the same vein, I ask you as the learners of this school, who for the longest time, know how it feels to go to a school without basic infrastructure, such as science and computer laboratories and a fully equipped library, to make sure you protect your school and make sure no one steals not just your future but that of your siblings and future generations as well.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me, on behalf of DIRCO and the Government of South Africa, to express our sincere gratitude to Huawei South Africa for the generous donation it has made to the school and the community of Imbali Township.

It might have taken a little bit longer to fulfil our President’s promise, but we are most grateful that Siqongweni School, finally boasts a fully-equipped library, science and computer laboratories to continue producing good results.

To those who may not be familiar with the background of the donation of this Science laboratory to Siqongweni Senior Secondary School, allow me to briefly explain.

As I have mentioned, in 2019, the President, accompanied by myself and my colleague,  Minister Angie Motshekga, the Minister of Basic Education, visited the school after it had obtained an impressive 84% pass rate in 2018 Matric results.

We learnt that the school managed to register such impressive results despite a lack of basic infrastructure and that it has been consistently achieving between 83 and 95% pass rates for over six years.

This was a very impressive achievement, especially given the fact that the school lacked basic resources. It was then that the President instructed both Minister Motshekga and I to assist the school to renovate the science laboratory and the library, while he committed to assisting with the computer laboratory.

We decided to form a public-private partnership with Huawei South Africa, whose CEO, Mr Spawn Fan showed keen interest and enthusiastically accepted our request to make this project a reality. Thank you CEO.

The Science Laboratory we are handing over today in partnership with you is a clear demonstration of what is possible if we all work together, as government, business and communities. I do not doubt that the investment you are making to these learners through this science laboratory will yield positive benefits, not just for South Africa but the entire world – which would be a positive reflection of - a giant global company – Huawei.

I hope this is the start of a long relationship that Huawei South Africa will have, with not just this school but others across South Africa.  It is befitting that a global ICT company, invests in its future employees. With that said I am aware that Huawei is already heavily invested in youth ICT training projects as part of its corporate social investment responsibility contributions aimed at reversing the ICT skills shortage in the country.

Digital technologies are the future, as the government, we have already established the Digital Industrial Revolution Commission, which includes the private sector and civil society, in order to leverage the opportunities that come with the Fourth Industrial Revolution to bolster our science and technology industries.

Part of my responsibilities as the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation is to speak to my counterparts from other countries to help South Africa either through bringing direct foreign investment or help through other means.

The generous donation we are celebrating today is an example of the work my department does.

In conclusion allow me to express my sincere thanks to the Principal, Mr Dlamini and his staff for the sterling work they continue to do at this school. The good matric results that the school consistently produces are a reflection of your dedication and commitment.

In 2007, when I was the Minister of Education, I established a Ministerial Committee to conduct research into schools that performed well and are in the middle quintiles. Called “Schools that Work”, the study considered the circumstances under which schools achieved good results, while others in a similar context do not.

Amongst others, the Committee found that the good results of these schools were produced by the commitment of principals and teachers. In addition, the committee found four essential dynamics at work in successful schools, namely;

  • All of the schools were focused on their central tasks of teaching, learning and management with a sense of responsibility, purpose and commitment
  • All of the schools carried out their tasks with competence and confidence
  • All had organisational cultures or mind-sets that supported a work ethic, expected achievement and acknowledgement of success
  • All had strong internal accountability systems in place, which enabled them to meet the demands of external accountability, particularly in terms of senior certificate achievement.

It is pleasing, MEC Mshengu, to note that all these elements are found at this school. It is important to also mention that the Ministerial Committee recommended that provincial departments support successful schools through recognition and incentives.

Your presence here today is partly fulfilling that recommendation.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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460 Soutpansberg Road
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