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Qaanitah Hunter and Staff reporter
16 Jun 2015 16:08
President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at youth day celebrations in Pretoria on Tuesday. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)
He may be 73-years-old but President Jacob Zuma insists he is still a young man.
Delivering the keynote address at the National Youth Day
celebrations in Pretoria on Tuesday, Zuma placed the importance of education at
the centre of his speech.
“Education continues to receive the biggest chunk of
the national budget as our weapon for socioeconomic development,” he told
guests at the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) celebrations.
“We have thus made education an apex priority since the
dawn of freedom because we believe it is a most effective weapon in the ongoing
fight against poverty, inequality and unemployment,” he said.
He said the economy is not “growing as fast as we want
to and is not creating as many jobs as we need.
As a result, many of our
graduates sit at home without jobs.”
Zuma called on the private sector to increase youth
employment through taking young people for internships and apprentices in line
with South Africa’s youth employment accord.
“We have to work together to provide opportunities for the
youth, who are the future of our country.
“We are also encouraging young people to become
entrepreneurs. The Industrial Development Corporation in partnership with the
NYDA and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency have ring-fenced
R2.7-billion over the next five years for young people to take up
opportunities in business.”
He said in the last financial year, the NYDA supported 1 043
micro and small youth owned enterprises.
“Furthermore, the NYDA has provided non-financial business
development support to 62 990 young aspiring and established entrepreneurs,”
According to StatsSA, there are some 5.5-million young
people in South Africa between the ages of 15 and 35 who are not employed.
Zuma also reminded the crowd that he never had any formal
education. “No teacher can claim to have seen this forehead of mine,”
he said to chuckles.
Held under the theme “Youth Moving South Africa Forward”,
this year’s commemoration marks 39 years since the June 16 1976 uprisings.
On this day, in 1976, a group of school children set off
from Morris Isaacson High School in Orlando, Soweto, to protest over Afrikaans
being the medium of instruction, among other grievances against the apartheid
There was a stand-off with police, who opened fire on the
children. The township was sealed off and attacks on government buildings
followed; as well as the flight of many youths and political leaders into
exile. This day is now commemorated as Youth Day.
Youth still waiting, says Maimane
Freedom in South Africa has not materialised 39 years after
the Soweto uprising, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Tuesday.
“While we have certainly come a long way since those dark
days of apartheid – and life is indeed better for most South Africans – many of
the freedoms that generation fought for have not yet materialised,” he said.
Maimane was speaking at the DA’s Youth Day commemoration at
the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan University.
“Today, 39 years ago, tens of thousands of young people
across Soweto stood up to the apartheid government, demanding to be taught as
equals in South Africa,” he said.
“Their protest was about more than just the language of
instruction. It was a protest against a system of education designed to keep
Maimane said these were the youth that stood up for a belief
that their future could be better.
He said their sacrifice would never be forgotten because it
paved a way for the free and democratic South Africa.
“Many young South Africans are still waiting for a time when
fairness means a society where their efforts are matched by their rewards,” he
“Many young South Africans are still waiting for the
opportunities to make a better life for themselves and their families.”
Maimane said the focus in South Africa should be on growing
the economy to create jobs.
He said the current education system was one of government’s
Children were being failed early on by teachers who could
not teach them to read, he says.
“The state of our education, 21 years into our democracy, is
shameful. Ours is considered to be among the very worst in the world,” Maimane
“History will one day show that the failure to provide our
children with quality education will be our government’s single biggest
Maimane said the education system should be fixed, starting
with basic education.
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