The only way in which the younger people of South Africa and generations to come can free themselves from the negative effects of the apartheid economic exclusion and address the socio-economic challenges is by way of education, training and skills development.
As opposed to previous generations with whom the apartheid government never intended to extend any formal education to the greater part of the South African community, the present day youth are living within a democratic environment and society and whose policies and country direction they are able to contribute to and develop.
“Understanding that education is important for the future development of our country, our government has, within its limitations, placed education as an apex priority,” Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was quoted at the annual lecture of the late struggle stalwart Walter Sisulu.
The comments, thoughts and opinions of the deputy president comes at a time when poverty, inequalities and youth unemployment remains to be the primary challenge for the South African economy and government considering the latest unemployment figures provided by Statistics South Africa. At the moment the unemployment rate sits at a whopping 4.6 million.
Motlanthe has stated the fact that the past social ills whereby the apartheid government consciously attempted to deny the vast majority of the South African population an education and in so doing excluding them from engaging in the formal economy. However, he is of the opinion that these policies together with their impact on the country and individuals can be corrected and reversed by way of education.
Education, training and skills development is the cornerstone and basis whereby the class structure of a society could be de-racialised and as a result expand the scope of social privileges. This can be accomplished by drawing in individuals who had been excluded from the social and economic mainstream and is the only option to break inter-generational poverty.
“Not only that, through education, some of the social pathologies embedded in human history can be eliminated for good. I am reminded in this regard of the intractable issue of gender inequality, which derives from primeval cultural consciousness manifested in macho, paternalistic practices,” Motlanthe said.
Motlanthe appealed to all young South African adults to make an effort to educate themselves and reverse the injustices of the past and create and develop a significantly better life for the future generations to come.
Ever since the the very first democratic election held in South Africa, there has been a number of advances and progress when it comes to making certain full and free access at the basic education level, including the provision of no-fee schools and providing nutrition programmes.
“Admittedly, we have not moved fast enough in the sphere of higher education but are making strides to promote further access. As such, you are privileged because the democratic government is investing in your future, understanding the role of education in social transformation. This in turn places a huge responsibility on Sasco and the South African youth in general to seek knowledge and skills so that they can rise to the demands of their generation.”