Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said action, not words would honour those who participated in the historic 1976 Soweto Uprising.
DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, says that 22 years into South Africa’s new democratic project, the government has let the country’s children down because of a lack of progress in the education system.
Maimane was speaking on the 40th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto youth uprising, at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Orlando West, Soweto, on Thursday.
“This ANC government has become the very thing the students were rising against 40 years ago. They have become the protector of the status quo. They have become the denier of opportunity.
“They have sabotaged this generation that we still naively call born frees,” the DA lead said.
He re-emphasized that children have not merely been “let down” by the government. “This is not a passive failure. This is not a government that’s trying hard, but falling short.
“No, this is a government that has actively chosen its own interests over the interests of our children,” Maimane said.
He argued that of all the wrongs of Apartheid, its greatest sin was to deny young black South Africans a proper education.
“Bantu Education was a deliberate plan to suppress a new generation of black South Africans. To keep them in their place,” Maimane said.
With the fall of Apartheid and the birth of democracy, this was meant to be the first thing that changed, he said.
“We were supposed to start building a new society by beginning with the youth. By ensuring that no child in South Africa would ever have to endure the insult that was Bantu Education again.
“But 22 years into this democratic project, our government has let these children down,” the DA lead said.
He pointed out that most schools are dysfunctional today. Outside of the well-funded, well-staffed schools in the city suburbs, the country’s basic education ranks amongst the worst in the world.
“The education his government provides to millions of black children is no better than the Bantu Education of 40 years ago. In fact, many believe it is worse,” Maimane said.
He said that most young adults will then step out of this failed education system and into a broken economy where two-thirds of them won’t be able to find a job.
“The true legacy of Jacob Zuma’s ANC will be their failure to provide this generation with an education they can use.”
Also on Thursday, president Jacob Zuma told a crowd of supporters at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, that the apartheid regime disadvantaged the country and economy by denying black people an education.
“By denying the majority of the population quality education, the apartheid regime disadvantaged the country and the South African economy immensely,” he said.
“Given the usage of education as an instrument of subjugation by the apartheid regime, the democratic government decided to make education an instrument of liberation.”
Zuma said education was an apex priority for the current government which is why it received the biggest chunk of the national budget.
Built new schools
He said government had built new schools and refurbished others to improve the learning environment.
“Government has built 795 schools since 2009, at a cost of R23 billion. We have built 78 new libraries in addition to 304 that have been upgraded. To improve access to education, at least 80% of our public schools are now no-fee schools and nine million children are exempted from paying school fees,” he said.
Zuma said in that way the country was making progress on free basic education for the poor and the working class.
He said poverty should not prevent a child from obtaining an education.
“Nine million children also receive free meals at school, as hunger must not prevent children from poor households from performing at their optimal level in school,” he said.
Source: Business Tech