Quality basic education a necessity for youth empowerment

By Mohapi Ramathibe, Free State DA Youth Chairperson:

The below speech was delivered by Mohapi Ramathibe during the Youth Day debate held at the Free State Provincial Legislature Thursday 11 June 2015.

Let me begin by quoting the father of our nation, Tata Nelson Mandela, he said,

“Education is the great engine for personal development.  It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of a mine, when a child of a farm worker can become president of a great nation”

Education is a constitutional right, a basic human right, a strategic priority and the best possible vehicle to empower South Africans and to develop our country.

In the global knowledge economic, success depends on quality education. Those with a quality education can fulfil their potential. Those without it are destined to remain excluded from opportunities and dependent on the state to survive.

While spending money on education is important, it is not enough to simply pour money into trying to solve our problems, but capable principals and passionate teachers always in class on times, who know the content of the subjects they teach, as well as good management of schools matter more.

Many schools still lack the facilities and resources that enable effective teaching and learning.

It is the government’s obligation to ensure that no learner’s educational advancement is prejudiced by the learning environment.

Yesterday the Auditor general announced that no single municipality in the Free State received a clean audit.

Where the DA governs in the Western Cape, the DA establishes basic infrastructure and resource standards for schools, including (but not limited to):

  • Safe and appropriate classroom structures;
  • Access to utilities (such as water and electricity);
  • Access to sanitation services;
  • Libraries, laboratories, workshops;
  • Basic information technology and communications equipment.

That’s what a clever party does!

A reality in South Africa is that, schools are places of fear rather than of learning for many children.

Every child must be able to learn in an environment which is safe and where he or she is not exposed to violence, abuse or drugs.

A lot of learners in the Free State walk to schools and some get raped on their way to these schools.

In order to resolve this we need to implement the programme like the DA implemented in the Western Cape Education Department whereby school safety volunteers, who have received neighbourhood watch, as well as road safety training escort  groups of learners on foot to and from school.

We have to offer free transport to learners, this will assist those who travel long kilometres and against harsh weather conditions. Going to school with wet books will be a thing of a past.

The issue of corporal punishment hurts me very much because I am a product of it. I know how it feels like to always be terrified and never free to open up and express your views as you might be given a hiding should the teacher not agree to your views. We must ask ourselves, what are we doing, are we trying to create zombies, children who are not free-thinkers?  The truth is corporal punishment still exists and must end.

We believe that by the time the child completes basic education he/she should:

  • Emerge from school having mastered the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy at internationally benchmarked levels, to prepare them for the modern economy.
  • Ensure that our children are nurtured to become well-rounded citizens who have the discipline, work- ethic and courage to use their skills and talent to pursue their dreams.
  • That our youth are inspired to contribute to the success of our country, to reach out to fellow South Africans as nation builders, to grow the economy through entrepreneurship and to tackle our social challenges.

We in the DA believe in the values of FREEDOM, FAIRNESS, and OPPORTUNITY. A truly free and fair society begins with excellent education, which will allow all children who have entered grade R up to grade 12 have equal chance to succeed in life.

Ladies and gentleman let’s make the Free State and ultimately South Africa of today better than that of yesterday, we can achieve this!

Dankie, Ke a leboha