Speaking on key measures to follow in achieving a quick SA economic transformation, President Jacob Zuma supports quality education as a primary weapon towards achieving economic success.
The President who was addressing delegates at the Basic Education Department’s lekgotla in Centurion on Tuesday, raised the need to refocus on delivering quality education for the benefit of SA economic transformation
Describing education as the ladder out of poverty and economic stagnation, Zuma said the year’s meeting is dedicated to Oliver Tambo, who was an embodiment of all that was good and noble about the teaching profession.
“It is our primary weapon in the struggle for SA economic transformation, and in the quest for a better life for our people, especially the poor. It is for this reason that education gets the biggest slice of the national budget.
“That is also the reason why this gathering is so important. You have all come together because you care about education, and care about the well-being of our children and youth,” said Zuma during his opening address at the Basic Education Sector Lekgotla, Pretoria.
Zuma’s speech on the importance of education in re-awaking the SA economy brings to mind IMF’s advice for a broad-based reform to the SA education system as the best way to boost growth in South Africa.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) which predicts the SA economy to remain below 1% in 2017, warned that the country will only get out of its economic status when it begins to consider changing its education policies.
The economic stagnation that South Africa has experienced in the last decade, as well as questions regarding its current role in the African economy, are both inextricably linked to the failure of its education system.
The SA government spends roughly 6% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education, more than any other African country, yet ranks at the bottom of all middle-income countries in math, science, and literacy.
But, in a speech on Tuesday, the president called on all gathered to dedicate time and brainpower in the interests of strengthening and improving the country’s education system.
“We will always prioritise the education of our children because it is only through quality education that we can win our struggle against unemployment, poverty and inequality.
“Our country’s Constitution enjoins us to provide quality and compulsory basic education to all South Africans irrespective of race, colour, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and disability.
We remain committed to meet this Constitutional directive. As we converge here today, we also remember with fondness the finest son of the soil, the late ANC President and one of the key architects of our freedom and democracy, Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo,” Zuma said
The President, however, warned that there would be consequences for schools who continue to produce a zero percent pass rate for their matric results.
On that note, he encouraged all teachers to honour, protect and advance Tambo’s legacy as an outstanding educator.