As part of commemorating Youth Month, Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister, Sindisiwe Chikunga donated school shoes to identified and deserving historically disadvantaged learners in the poverty-stricken areas of the Western Cape.
Recently, Deputy Minister Chikunga visited Bloekombos Primary School in Kraaifontein and Mseki Primary School in Gugulethu settlements where she handed over pairs of school shoes as well as laptops.
This year marks 45 years since the 1976 Soweto uprising that tragically ended with hundreds of young people killed by the apartheid government when they protested against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.
Deputy Minister Chikunga told parents, learners and their educators that in democratic South Africa, children are better off in school than working.
“So if we can keep as many children in school we know that they will be able to change their circumstances at home.
“We are here today to encourage the learners whose families are living in poverty, yet everyday they choose to send their children to school even though they may not have the full school uniform and shoes.
“Handing over these 100 pairs of school shoes to Bloemkombos Primary is to allow learners to continue learning without barriers and to give them their dignity back,” she said.
This Back to School Campaign was the Deputy Minister’s efforts to follow the footsteps of late President Nelson Mandela who once said: “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of a mine that a child of a farm worker can become the president of a country.”
In honour of Youth Month, Chikunga said the community of Kraaifontein deserve to witness an increase in the number of children in school and an end to drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and high unemployment rate for a better future.
“Our hope for this school and the greater community is for the learners to strive for excellence and to rise above their current circumstances.
“It is necessary that we empower our children for a better future. We must remember that central to the rights of children, is the right to education, equality and dignity.
“We know that lack of access to education is a major predictor of passing poverty from one generation to the next, while receiving an education is one of the best ways to achieve financial stability,” she said.
As a result of the ongoing surge of the coronavirus, Deputy Minister Chikunga said the education system has forced educators to adopt to the new normal, which laid bare some of the shortcomings to both teaching and learning in schools.
She also thanked those who sponsored her Back to School Campaign- Metropolitan Health Group for their generosity.
One of the strategic objectives of Youth Month is to educate the youth about their history; heritage and the role played by young people in the liberation struggle by reflecting on the events of 1976.
The advent of the post-colonial and post-apartheid democratic government brought about the new way of looking at the day by rededicating it to the youth of South Africa – hence Youth Day.