This report is on account of the Talk by Cyril Ramaphosa on the 10th of September 2013, presenting the National Development Plan.
First and foremost, I would like to extend my appreciation to Pastor Ebenezer Kiluba and Sister Audrey Katsidzira who sent Ayanda and I as Uplifted representatives to the Lecture. The first impression we had of the gathering was that it didn’t have anything conspicuous to do with Church. It was a challenge for us to understand what we were doing there because it seemed the Bible we had was not going to be used.
It was a political gathering. To support this statement even further, excluding the fact the Speakers are pure Politicians, there were people from the Marikana Commission who were expressing their anger to Government, for the brutal gunning of miners last year, through the slogans they chanted, the comments they made, and the banners they raised.
In essence, the NDP is about the elimination of poverty, unemployment, and inequality. It was remarked by the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission that our country has come a long way and there are evident changes in the level of poverty- the levels have lowered, unemployment- rate has contracted, and more people own shares now rather than before when it was only a few families owning shares on the JSE market.
Through the talk, I was still trying to figure out the reason why I was there. Eventually I got to understand why. In the conclusion of his very long speech, Mr Ramaphosa mentioned something that called me to mind as to why I was there. He mentioned something very profound:”what we want to see is people becoming more active in the development of the country, taking a longer perspective to resolving our problems”.
It has come to me that we live in a country of a lot of observers. Most have mistaken the entrenchment of Democracy as Canaan, whereas it was just the crossing of the Red Sea. Pre apartheid, the people stood behind the parties that were against the apartheid regime, but what happens afterwards? Majority sits before government and expects the government to prepare a banquet for them.
The audience was given an opportunity to ask questions directly to the Vice Chair, Mr Ramaphosa and colleague Stephen Kossef. It was a very interesting session where the crowd was not very optimistic about the Plan, and one even asked how the NDP is different from all the other initiatives that Government intended to carry out but eventually failed. I like the response of the Vice Chairperson; he mentioned that it is true that Government has messed up along the way, but there is a river to cross, regardless of the crocodiles in the river, we have to cross over to the other side.
I saw a very strong link between what the government aims to achieve through the initiative, and the vision of Uplifted- Getting people to give life to the vision, getting people to take responsibility not only for themselves but for others as well. Or perhaps I should say Uplifted is one of the entities that breathe life into the vision of the NDA.
The aims of the NDP pertaining to basic and higher education among our youth are as follows:
- Improve the school system, including increasing the number of students achieving above 50 percent in literacy and mathematics, increasing learner retention rates to 90 percent and bolstering teacher training.
- Strengthen youth service programmes and introduce new, community-based programmes to offer young people life-skills training, entrepreneurship training and opportunities to participate in community development programmes.
- Strengthen and expand number of FET colleges to increase the participation rate to 25 percent.
- Increase the graduation rate of FET colleges to 75 percent.
- Provide full funding assistance covering tuition, books, accommodation and living allowance to students from poor families.
Adapted from the Executive Summary of NDP
Education is one of the things treasured at the heart of the vision. Uplifted also has an Education factor attached to it. Through implementing this, it is not only literacy that is addressed, but also unemployment. Aiming to get learners to attain better results consequently produces competency among the learners to be able to enter into Higher Education Institutions, where they gather skills for the workplace- what Uplifted Education is aiming to achieve.
I think it is also beneficial that Government does not only aim to educate people, but also equips them with skills to apply the knowledge they would have gathered. This, I believe, stimulates people’s creativities in terms of developing solutions for the current problems the nation is faced with. Unlike being taught equations, identifying where the equations would work in society is a crucial element that would bring active participation from the people.
God gave me the Grace to express my views and raise questions, not to the Commission, but to the woman who was sitting next to me. I learnt a lot from her and discovered strategies that would be beneficial to Uplifted in carrying out the projects that are in line.
The talk was very political, but at the end, I absorbed a lot of valuable lessons: two can’t walk together unless they agree; hence the pessimism from a portion of society slows down the progress by Government. For us to move towards the 30-year long vision, we have to believe, and contribute, as Uplifted is already doing, what we can to bringing the “Framework” into physical reality.