Debate on Accelerated socio-economic transformation- the key to human rights and better future for all by Cde Gijimani Skosana in the National Assembly

20 March 2019

Honourable Chairperson,

In this Human Rights debate, twenty-five years into democracy and the attainment of freedom and the adoption of our Constitution. I wish to start off by quoting a man who helped revitalize and who provided much of the philosophical foundation for black resistance to white supremacy in South Africa in the mid-20th century; the founding president of the ANC Youth League, Anton Muziwakhe Lembede wherein he said and I quote:

…the African people have been told time and again that they are babies, that they are an inferior race, that they cannot achieve anything worthwhile by themselves or without a white man as their "trustee" or "leader." This insidious suggestion has poisoned their minds and has resulted in a pathological state of mind. Consequently, the African has lost or is losing the sterling qualities of self-respect, self-confidence and self-reliance. Even in the political world, it is being suggested that Africans cannot organise themselves or make any progress without white "leaders." Now I stand for the revolt against this psychological enslavement of my people. I strive for the eradication of this "Ja-Baas" mentality, which for centuries has been systematically and subtly implanted into the minds of the Africans.”

Close quote.

Honourable Chairperson,

This year marks 66 years since the Bantu Education Act was introduced, which effectively deprived generations of black South Africans of quality education and skills and consigning them to grinding poverty. It is no surprise that the apartheid Minister of Native Affairs, Hendrik Verwoed said:

Blacks should never be shown the greener pastures of education, they should know that their station in life is to be hewers of wood and drawers of water.”

With that said, this year marks 64 years since the Freedom Charter was adopted. The ANC entrenched the right to education as a human right which is the realisation that ‘all doors of learning and of culture shall be opened’ as stated in the Freedom Charter. The Charter stated that “education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children”.

The socio-economic inequalities in our country run deep and were entrenched by the distortion created by the apartheid regime to our education and training system. The African National Congress has played a vital role in correcting the ills of the past and has concerted its efforts in breaking the bondages which connect our society from the legacy of apartheid. Without the ANC, we would not be where we are.

In Ready to Govern, the ANC said that the goals which we have set cannot be achieved unless all people are empowered, through education and training, for active involvement as citizens in the democratic process and as workers in the economy. We believe that education and training is a basic human right and that all individuals should have access to lifelong education and training, irrespective of race, class, gender, creed, age, sexual orientation and physical or mental disability.

For us, education is pivotal to economic prosperity, assisting South Africans – personally and collectively – to escape the “poverty trap” characterising many of our communities. It has also to reach beyond economic goals, enabling South Africans to improve the quality of their lives and contribute to a peaceful, concerned and democratic nation.

Access to Education

Early Childhood education has been proven to be the key driver in impacting on a country’s future economic growth and improvement for the citizens of a country. In his 2019 State of Nation Address, President Ramaphosa announced that the government will migrate early childhood education centres from the Department of Social Development to Basic Education and that this year there will be two years of compulsory ECD for all children before they enter Grade 1. This move is essential in equipping children to succeed in education, in work and in life – and it is an important factor in overcoming poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Alive to the promise of the Freedom charter, the ANC committed to strengthening measures to improve access to higher education with the ultimate goal of achieving free higher education for the poor and “missing middle”.

The ANC led government, since it took power in 1994, has ensured that students coming from poor families with annual gross income of R122 000 are provided with financial aid through loans and bursaries in order to access both university and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). Funding allocation to support student financial aid increased from R21 million in 1991 during the time of TEFSA to R23.7 billion in 2018/19. Government’s commitment to expand access to and success of students who would have opportunities to access education and training without government funding.

In line with the resolutions of the ANC 52nd and 53rd National Conferences, the ANC government has ensured that it accelerates the implementation of a new financial support model to ensure that academically capable, poor, working class and middle strata students are supported to access higher education, and receive fully subsidised free higher education and training. In order to achieve its intended access and success rates, fully subsidized cost of study will include tuition fees, accommodation, meals, transport and essential study materials or learning resources, and a stipend to cover meals and other essential living needs that is the full cost of study fees. No poor or working-class student should be partially funded.

We wish to remind our country and citizens that it is the ANC led-government that commissioned a study in March 2012 through the Department of Higher Education to investigate, and advise on the feasibility of making university fee-free for the poor in South Africa. It is the ANC that resolved during its 53rd Elective Conference in Mangaung in 2012 to implement Fee-Free Higher Education for the poor in South Africa. This is and has been an ANC Policy to implement fee-free education to the poor. Educating the children of the poor and working class is our policy and we are implem

Honourable Chairperson,

TVET Colleges enrolments has increased radically since the demise of apartheid - from 154 688 in 1995, to 705 397 in 2016. This means that enrolment in TVET Colleges increased by almost 5 times over 21 years.

Significant progress has been achieved with regard to artisan development from 20012/13 at 8 655 to 2016/17 at 21 188 artisans produced annually. Top trades are: Electrician, Diesel Mechanics, Mechanical Fitter, Welder, Automotive Motor Mechanic, Plumber, Boiler Maker, Millwright, Rigger.

Private Public Partnerships

Several instruments, such as National Skills Accord which was signed by the NEDLAC Social partners on 13 July 2011 are in place to ensure that these social partnerships yield positive results with regard to availing workplace-based learning opportunities for young persons, in various skills development interventions such as work integrated learning, internships, learnerships, apprenticeships etc. With these relationships in the financial year 2016/17 we have seen more than 148 000 workplace-based learning opportunities being provided, especially for our young people through SETAs.

Training

The ANC in its policies has consistently committed to an integrated education and training system that amongst other things pursues skills development as a tool to develop our people and contribute to the economic development of our country. This system is one that has assessed and recognise prior learning and the skills acquired through experience. In this regard we speak of the recognition of prior learning (RPL) and Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (APRL). Education and skills are fundamental requirements for creating a prosperous society, economic development requires skills we need more artisans. That is why we encourage the youth to look beyond our universities and into TVET Colleges.

The ANC Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) which provides the guiding principles of the Human Development Strategy highlights the importance of the need for improving the quality of life of our people through training and development. This is reinforced in the country’s Human Resource Development Strategy.

Initiatives to Grow the Economy and Create Jobs

In an attempt to ignite the economy and create jobs, President Ramaphosa led the country to a Job Summit as well as the Investor Conference. The Job Summit emphasised the need for intervention to support SMMEs. Some of the interventions include the Township Economic Revitalisation Programme which is a pilot project of Gauteng province in partnership with private sector players, intends to support the growth and development of township-based businesses. This project will create employment for young people in the areas in which they live. In 2017, 4182 SMMEs benefitted from opportunities to do business with the Provincial Government.

The Summit further outlined initiatives to provide training and employment for unemployed youth to deliver vital financial record-keeping services and finance readiness assistance to SMMEs, including cooperatives who need access to finance.

Following the call by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo made an announcement that from 2019 job seekers will no longer need work experience to get an entry-level government job, is a move which will go a long way in further ensuring that employment of young people is accelerated. This could only happen under an ANC led government. The private sector is urged to support this call as a drive to reduce unemployment in particular among the youth.

The ANC remains committed to the youth of this country and will continue to work to ensure that they have a future.

“It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine.”

The ANC lives! The ANC leads!