Speech by Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Nomalungelo Gina Delivered in Chesterville, Durban, on the Occasion of the Learners School Performance Awards by Ubhaqa Network

The Board Chairperson Dr Maki Shongwe.
The entire Board of Ubhaqa Network.
The CEO of the Network, Ms Phumzile Kubheka.
The Representative of the EThekwini Metro.
The private sector in our mist.
Our ward Councillor.
Faith based organisations.
The School Governing Bodies.
The principal and teachers from all Cator Manor and Chesterville schools.

Most importantly, our honoured learners.

Good Morning.

It is my single most honour to receive this important invitation to join schools and parents of Cator Manor and Chesterville township to recognize the good work that our children have achieved in 2019 schooling calendar. I want to firstly express my gratitude to Ubhaqa Network for positioning itself as an NPO in doing such a wonderful work in contributing to building our children, as future  leaders and citizens of this country. Since the launch of Ubhaqa Network in December 2011, you have spent most of your work in promoting the culture of Learning and Teaching in our schools within the Cator Manor, uMkhumbane, Chesterville and various other areas in the province.

I am particularly happy that as part of your commitment to the school going children, you have appointed in your board former principals, graduates and community social activists. It is this combo of individuals coming from these different walks of life, united by the single goal of uplifting the quality of education that basic education will indeed become a societal obligation, than a government alone responsibility. I am pleased that, as Ubhaqa Network, you are incorporating other tasks that are incidental to the overall cause of education and development to the children such as:

  1. Provision of career guidance.
  2. Spelling competition and poetry at the foundation, intermediate and senior level.
  3. Reading promotion initiatives in schools.
  4. Promotion of benefit of education
  5. Participation of children in the Creative Arts, music
  6. Umkhumbane Social ills initiative meant to take youth out of drugs.
  7. Establishment of book clubs in the greater Cator Manor area.
  8. Initiating holiday camps for the Learners and entrepreneurship program.

What is more encouraging is that the greater Cator Manor/uMkhumbane and Chesterville areas as a whole, are the backwaters against the privileged neighbouring areas such as Glenwood, Westville, Mayville and other middle class locations. To have such social interventions by a Non-Profit Organization showing the light to our children, is encouraging.

In Cator Manor and Chesterville areas, one can smell poverty, underdevelopment, crime and other social ills. Schools, as institutions existing within our community are always a mirror of the same community. A community that is affected by the use of drugs is likely to experienced the similar problem at school, with children being an extension of the same drug networks operating in community. But a community that resist these social ills to fester in the community; and a community that insist on children going to school and a community that safeguard the schools as theirs, will reproduce the youth that is free from these ill behaviors and therefore succeed later in life after schooling.

I am pleased that some of your programmes towards the youth has been supported by various  businesses such as Lafarge SA, Spar, Bassa Hardware, Cash Crusaders and many more, including EThekwini Metro.

As a former Educator myself and later became a Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education in Parliament, I know how little contributions that we do to our children, like Ubhaqa Network does, can qualitatively make a lasting impact to our children which constitute a solid   foundation for their future success options in life.

As parents we are excited about the Matric pass rate of 2019 in KwaZulu Natal. The achievement of 81.3% which is a marked increase of 5.1% from the 2018 results of 76.2% represent a steady continuum by the province. There is a lot more that we need to do with regards to increasing learners doing and passing well on mathematics, science and technology subjects. These are subjects that we normally call them as group of STEM. It is these areas of study that our economy needs; it is careers that requires such subjects that are now in demand. Ubhaqa must assist us that, part of the career guidance and boot camps programmes you run, that you emphasis the love for mathematics, science and accounting. We need future innovators of technology in the context of the 4th industrial Revolution, we need IT Specialists who deal with programming, big data analytics, the general literacy in the interfacing with artificial Intelligence and robotics.

The advent of the 4th industrial Revolution has imposed upon us new opportunities. It is no more business as usual. The jobs of today and much of future jobs are driven by artificial intelligence, robotics, the internet of things, 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing and other new technologies. Unfortunately, this new way of doing business is not optional. It?s either you are part of this new wave or you are completely out. Youth must be the pioneers of new technologies and new careers.

One of the biggest challenges that as government are facing is the stark reality of our youth that is not in education, employment and training. This is what we normally refer to as the NEET youth. The ever increasing numbers of youth who are just sitting at home poses a real threat and danger to the social stability of the country. Young people cannot be left loose, doing nothing. It is by no mistake that the levels of crimes, drugs consumption levels and related activities, youth makes the majority of numbers. The levels of pregnancies and unsolicited babies that are cloaking the SASSA system today, is a direct consequences of youth out of any education, training or employment environment. This is a huge bugbear for this government because we are talking about the future of this country and her next generation.

This government has prioritized education and skills as an uppermost pillars for building a skilled nation. The level of intakes in our universities for all qualifying graduates increases each and every year. This is aided by the increase money towards NSFAS that pays tuition for students coming from poor families. Government has further expanded the TVET College sector for prospective students wanting to pursue technical qualifications such as Artisans. I want to take this opportunity to encourage our youth to enroll in TVET Colleges. There is a general shortage of Artisans in the country such as boiler makers in companies like Eskom, shortage of electricians, carpenters, bricklayers, welders, painters, motor mechanics and many more. These skills are in short supply in these relevant industries and the option for starting ones own business is highly advised. TVET Colleges are closer to our townships and NSFAS funds larger numbers of students within the system.

My message to all the learners present here today: Have a purpose about your life. Dream about you successful future. This dreaming and having a sense of purpose about your life will drive you to focus on your studies in order to succeed. In having a purpose in life will save you from falling victims to the temptation of using drugs and alcohol, including teenage pregnancy that carries a risk of sexually transmitted diseases. My message to you is simply that, own your future, control your future and drive it!

I am excited that as Ubhaqa Network, you are not just focusing on Matric passes for these awards but all grades from grade 1 to the top grades. In this way, you are inspiring children from step one at school to take responsibility for their education until they complete schooling at grade 12 level. We must do away with the obsession about grade 12 results at the exclusion of all the 11 grades below it. Early interventions, nurturing and support at the foundation level is very critical. I want to thank you for that decision of being inclusive.

In those few words, I want to congratulate all the learners who are here to receive the awards base on their school performance of 2019, may this be an inspiration to continue this trend and inspire other children in your schools that hard work pays!

Thank you.

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