DA provincial chairperson and Shadow MEC for Education, Edmund van Vuuren, addressed a rally in Kouga on Youth Day. Below is an excerpt of his speech:
We have nothing to celebrate. I wish to state unequivocally that we have and still are failing our youth. We need to ask ourselves the question: not what we have done for our youth, but rather what have we done to our youth. One of the basic tenets of the Freedom Charter to which we subscribe is that “the doors of learning shall be opened”, “that education shall be free, universal, compulsory and equal”. Are we even remotely close to that? The answer is a definite no!
This answer is especially applicable to our public schools where classes are bursting at the seams, where we have learners with no teachers, where we have children being taught under trees. How can we stand here and honestly say we and the government of the day are serving our youth well?
We should rather hang our heads in shame, because we have failed our youth. Education, which should free our youth from the shackles of slavery, is achieving the opposite. The ANC-led Government is not doing enough. In the Eastern Cape alone, enrolment figures have dropped by a massive 88 000 learners. Is this something to be proud of? Even during the most hated Verwoerdian- era with its legalized Bantu Education, aimed at educating our non-white youth to serve the “Herrenvolk”, the whites, Verwoerd managed to double the enrolment figures within eight years between 1951 and 1959.
Where have we gone wrong? Our value systems have disappeared. What we are portraying to the youth is that it is OK to be corrupt. It is OK to be promiscuous. It is OK not to be accountable. The list goes on and on. We are no longer the role models our kids in the past could follow. The result is that our youth is roaming the streets, uneducated. Our youth are overpopulating the abortion clinics with no sense of responsibility.
Only 41% of persons between 16 and 64 have a job. The DA was the only party to embark on a march to Cosatu House in support of a Youth Wage Subsidy. Cosatu’s claim that the subsidy will lead to job losses for older persons is a lie. The subsidy will give companies the opportunities to employ more people. The union is holding back our youth.
On 16 June 1976 we pledged that the youth would not be made a weapon for political gains.
The Eastern Cape Department of Education is the other big culprit. Learners do not have desks and textbooks. They do not have toilet facilities. There are 7 500 vacant posts for teachers in the province which remains unfilled. The rights of our children are being abused.
To our youth I want to say: Sorry, but do not expect the government or the adults to educate you – they do not have the morals to do that. Depend on your own tenacity. Do not be blindfolded by what the popular opinion is, but rather be lead by what you believe your adult life should be like. Do not be misled by those who espouse that they will create jobs for all. Do not believe that you will have a job because someone says so. Having a job has all to do with supply and demand and right now the demand is for skilled professionals. Ensure that you become that skilled professional.
Remember: your tomorrow starts today. Grab your future and shape it!