Address by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma, at the Presidential State of the Nation Address Golf Challenge Dinner, Lord Charles Hotel, Stellenbosch
11 Feb 2011Hon Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Mr Baloyi;
Other Hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers Present here;
Hon Premiers and Members of the Provincial Executive present;
Chairman, Champion and CEO of the Trust;
Members of the Business Community and Sponsors;
Members of the broad media;
Ladies and gentlemen:
Good evening to you all.
The Presidential State of the Nation Address Golf Challenge is a wonderful tradition dating back a couple of years now. I am happy to see some die hards here who join us every year.
The Department of Public Service and Administration hosts this Golf Challenge to enable us to get together after the State of the Nation Address, on the golf course in an informal atmosphere, and discuss what we can do together to build our country.
It is an important occasion in particular because it brings government and business together.
It is also an important gathering as the proceeds of the Challenge goes to the charity of the President’s choice,and help to improve the lives of the poor.
In this case it is the Jacob Zuma Education Trust, which makes the focus of the Golf Challenge education.
We are doing everything we can to improve the quality of basic education. Our next hurdle becomes higher education, especially expanding access.
Our ultimate goal is to ensure free education for disadvantaged children up to the undergraduate level.
It is a sad situation where children who academically qualify are prevented from attending a university or a college due to lack of funding.
More so when the youth is responding so positively to our call to go back to school and to prioritise education in their lives.
According to the 2008 report of the Southern African Regional Universities Association, the entire SADC region is experiencing rapidly expanding student numbers in the universities.
I believe we were all witnesses to this phenomenon in this country last month, with almost every tertiary institution confronted with excess numbers of students who asked for opportunities to enroll.
This is a good signal in terms of the numbers of pupils who get the university entrance requirement, but as the said report shows, funding is a major problem for these students.
Even countries which use to subsidize the bulk of the university fees have now considered cost-sharing, as there is also limited income from third stream sources of funds.
These costs are very much prohibitive for the majority of the learners who come from poor backgrounds.
We also know first hand about the conditions under which these children live and study in their various rural areas.
This situation is not only a challenge for South Africa, but for the SADC region as a whole.
It also has a strong bearing on the development potential for the region, as well as our competitiveness in the global economy.
Ladies and gentlemen;
As we said in the State of the Nation address we are dealing with this matter gradually through assisting students in their final year of study.
We are converting the National Student Financial Aid Scheme loans into bursaries, and also by ensuring that they do not pay fees in Further Education and Training Colleges.
The reason we invest in higher education is because we need a whole range of skills to build our economy. And for this we must go beyond our tertiary institutions, we should look at the private sector as well, especially state owned enterprises.
Together we must start a skills revolution for the good of our economy and our country. And we do not have much time.
We would like State Owned Entreprises to play the role they played before 1994, during which they produced a national pool of artisans, technicians, engineers and capable managers.
Some SOEs are performing this role. The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa currently aims to train 462 persons in various skills and currently have 188 persons in training.
The SA Maritime Association aims to train 61 persons by July 2011. Training includes surveyors, naval architecture, small vessel surveyors, ship’s captain and medical first aid staff.
Between 2007 and 2010 the National Research Foundation supported an annual total average of five thousand six hundred and forty four students at all levels.
Most students were supported at master’s level, with almost equal average numbers of honours and doctoral students. The target for 2011 is six thousand.
These are just a few examples of interventions that are already taking place across government.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We need to also work harder to promote science, mathematics and technology in our schools.
The 2009 statistics from the Department of Education show that science, engineering and technology had 28% enrolment, same with business sciences, while humanities commanded 43,5% enrolment in our tertiary institutions.
Reports also indicate that the SADC’s share of world science is declining and the quality of knowledge production is deteriorating.This is a worrying trend that needs to be reversed.
On appreciating this challenge some years ago, The Jacob Zuma RDP Education Trust set itself an objective of increasing access to educational opportunities for disadvantaged children, especially in the rural areas.
It also aims to provide opportunities in higher education to promising youth from rural areas, who have a passion for self improvement and ploughing back to society.
The Trust has over the years raised funds which have thus far benefited over 20 000 young people.
The Trust is extending its provincial base until it operates in all provincesin the country. It is currently supporting 1 200 young people at tertiary and basic education levels.
All this is possible due to the contribution of various companies and individuals.
When we said together we can do more, we meant partnership and collective action in almost every sphere.
I am therefore very much grateful for the contributions that we received this morning towards the Trust.
You are enabling the Trust to take forward the dreams, wishes and aspirations of the disadvantaged masses of our people.
I thank you!
Issued by: The Presidency
11 Feb 2011
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