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Central to our struggle for all these years and central to why we are contesting this election is the struggle to create whole beings. Each time we remind ourselves why we’ve had a prolonged struggle in our land, we come back to the same answer; that every child, every woman and man in our country, should be given a fair share of a rounded and complete life. At the end of the day when all is said and done, beyond the rhetoric and slogans, we have to ensure that we give every person in our society a fair shot at his or her life.
It must be as complete as possible, without the least turbulence and with the most capacity and resources available to develop. For years we fought for the right to a meaningful education. Since our inception the ANC has had no doubts that education was a right and NOT a privilege. Education was used as one of the Nationalist Party government’s tools of oppression. However, our children resisted time and time again. In 1976 students and children took it upon themselves to legitimately protest against an illegitimate government and its oppressive education system.
We remember with sadness the price that was paid in 1976 on June 16th. It is with anger and sorrow that we recall the government’s response. Banners and placards demanding a better education were no protection or match against teargas and the blast of shotguns. If we had to learn about Jan van Riebeeck and the Battle of Blood River, then in future we must learn about Hector Peterson, the Trojan Horse Massacre in Athlone, Boipatong and so many more incidents in our bloody and historical struggle. Education has been the weapon of oppression for too long.
We have fought for many years to prove that education is a RIGHT and not a privilege. But the NP argues that June 1976 is a part of the past. They want us to forget the intolerable and unjust systems they created. They say we must only look at the present. So let us turn to the present. The government still spends more than three times as much money on a white pupil as they do on a black pupil. 75% of African people and 50% of Coloured people have no education, or only primary school level. We are still subjected to multiple education departments, despite the monumental waste of resources over the past years.
Subsidy cuts have caused fees and accommodation crises for many students. South African whites as a group are believed to achieve the highest educational levels in the world, while African adults have an average of five years of schooling. With this bitter experience in mind, we have to ask how education can be transformed into a tool for development. Now is the time to put these words into action, to create a system which respects the right of every person to quality learning. We have to transform education into an institution that turns out young adults equipped with skills to be productive and contribute to our economy.
In addition, we have to ensure that the education gives them all a sense of worth and pride in themselves. This must apply notonly to the present generation of children but to our children’s children. We are also faced with a backlog of 15 million adults with no education or insufficient education. The ANC will ensure that the parents and workers of this country become literate and get further education. The parents of our children must be able to improve their levels of education without having to go back to school. Education is our key to a better life for all.
Here is how education will help us: Education brings us jobs because it gives us the skills and training to choose the work we wish to do. Qualitative education will give everyone an equal chance to develop their abilities. If the space is created for everyone to start at the same levle it allows peace to permeate through the land. Education brings us freedom, the freedom to grow and to use all our resources to their full potential. For decades students, teachers, parents have raised their voices in protest against the insults of Bantu and DET education.
We salute the courage of the students and teachers who have battled under conditions of poverty, hunger and violence, for the right to equal and qualitative education and improved conditions of service. On April 27 we will be able to make the loudest call of all, when we vote for the ANC, the party which has been at the forefront of educational struggles in this country, the party which has a concrete plan to change education so that all South Africans can benefit. IT IS TIME THAT SOMEBODY CLEANED UP THIS MESS. THE NP HAVE HAD THEIR CHANCE AND THEY HAVE FAILED TO MEET THE NEEDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE.
GIVE US THE CHANCE TO PROVIDE THIS COUNTRY WITH EQUAL AND PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION While they have been unilaterally practising their ABCs on different models for white’ schools, we have formulated a plan to transform all sectors of education. How can the Nats expect us to overlook the fact that even if schools in white areas decide to let in black children, the vast majority of black children stay in townships too far away to come to pristine schools with their superior facilities in green tree lined surroundings. The ANC promises you that you and your children will be able to enjoy the benefits of equal education.
We will introduce a single education system that provides ten years of free and compulsory education for all children. Moreover, we must ensure that children, all children, and not just young boys but girls, especially, must have access to education. Affirmative action must transcend all levels of our society down to the basic education needs of children. We know that this society is turbulent and unequal in its provision of services to its people, especially women. We must reconcile these differences and it has to start with education.
Remember, the discrimination doesn’t start only when our children want to go to medical school, or university or a technikon. It starts when young girls are told, “you have to help clean the house, clean the dishes, look after the younger children, and therefore you must either leave school or not go at all”, and so it goes on. They, too, must get an education; the same as their brothers, the boy next door, their fathers and uncles. This tension is present now and it will remain if we don’t encourage truly equal access to education for ALL. The subjects taught will reflect a commitment to both personal and national development.
There are two aspects to education: firstly, and vital to the future deverlopment of our country is that people must be provided with the necessary skills and competence to be able to enter the job market and contribute to our economy. Secondly, and as a direct response to the psychologically damaging education of the present and past, we must instill in children a sense of pride and worth in themselves. While we are starting to do away with difference and discrepancy, surely we can share. Why should classrooms that contain all the instruments of learning stand empty in the afternoons?
Let us utilize all our underutilized resources. Let us share so that in the near future any classroom, anywhere in our country will have a similarity about it. Uniformity in education will transcend the ogre of difference and the fear of the unknown. Mathematics and science will be learnt from the same text book across the country, by both black and white. Let White children learn about black history without a sense of fear that blacks are dangerous, vengeful warriors intent on driving them into the sea. Let people learn that other religions do not have to be in conflict with one another and even that communists will not burn down
churches, mosques and synagogues. They must feel that the education not only equips them with work related skills, but also with a sense of roundedness in an understanding of our history, our literature, music, perhaps learning more than one of the eleven languages of the land with a sense of pride rather than entrenching a baaskap mentatility. We all know that June 16 1976 was triggered off by the racist regime trying to force people to learn in Afrikaans. Let us reverse the ideology of repression. For many years our people have been forced to learn in languages that are not their own.
The ANC believes that all languages in South Africa be given equal recognition and that everyone should have the opportunity to learn in the language of their choice, wherever it is possible. Respect for everyone’s mother tongue is not negotiable. However, if there is a recognition that other languages reinforces a sense of national pride and not enclaves of ethnic exclusivity, we have the makings of future generations of a proud and well educated nation. The costs of learning are high and will remain high. But the costs of not developing a just and equal education system are even higher.
The ANC will ensure that the R23 billion set aside for education will be carefully utilised, for the benefit of all. Part of the R23 billion will be sent on setting up a national bursary and loan system to ensure that no-one is denied education because of lack of funds. ADULT EDUCATION Fifteen million black adults are illiterate or have little or no education. The ANC is committed to providing Adult Basic Education. As much as we talk of a lost generation of children there is also a vast well of adults who have been marginalised because of a lack of education.
Adult education is essential to empower those previously marginalised the opportunity to build a better life for themselves. National training systems will be set up to help workers improve their positions, while still being able to support themselves and their families. Improved education will help to build our economy. We will also make sure that credit is given for other courses so that adults do not need to enter formal education to improve their qualifications. EDUCARE Six and a half million of our children are under 6 years old and need to be given special attention and educare. This is especially important in the rural areas.
Communities have had to care for young children without access to resources and facilities. Immediately they have been dealt a blow. The ANC plans to rectify this by not only providing the necessary resources but in doing so, empowering the community. For the millions of children requiring special education, the ANC has noted your unique needs and has set about to provide for them. A special task force will make sure that all buildings are accessible to you and that awareness programmes are run in society. TERTIARY EDUCATION Now is the time to transform ivory tower universities into people’s universities.
Intellectual discourse that only serves intellectuals wastes valuable resources. While African people make up over 70% of the population, they represent only 41% of the student body at the tertiary level. This must change. Universities must no longer be the stronghold of the white and wealthy, but must cater for all. The needs of women must be paid particular attention. Education must be made more accessible to women. Curricula should be sensitive to gender issues. Any national literacy campaign should focus on women. The legacy of apartheid education will be with us for many years, but now is the time to start building the future.
A vote for the ANC is a vote for an education system which meets all your needs. We have the resources and the determination to bring you a better life. We have the plan and the people to bring you a better life. Education is the foundation upon which we will build our country. By opening the doors of learning to all, we will ensure a better life for all. “Education before liberation” was a slogan used in the 1980s. We are on the eve of our liberation, undertaken by ourselves and for ourselves. The Nationalist Party didn’t do it. Neither did the Democratic Party. We did it. We also recognise that a further liberation is required.
Struggle is a process, and education is a tool to be used for that liberation of our minds. Those involved in education have a greater awareness of the tension and conflict in our society, especially as they were the ones who had to impart some kind of knowledge and to the impoverished, as they were the ones who had little to work with. The once powerful repressive agencies have to deal with a people who want to destroy poverty, ignorance, and the unfairness in our society. The level of fairness in our society in the future will be measured by the level of education of our children.