VENTERSDORP – Education is the most powerful weapon towards economic freedom, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
“Government has taken reasonable and practical measures in ensuring that young people are enrolled in schools and study in decent schools and not mud schools and other inappropriate structures, Zuma said while addressing government’s main Youth Day commemoration in Tshing, near Ventersdorp in North West.
“Through the Education Infrastructure Grant and the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, more new schools have been built, refurbishments made and new school furniture delivered.”
He said in the current financial year, R12-billion had been allocated to improve schools infrastructure needs.
“Many learners come from poor homes where they go to school without having had something to eat. It is for this reason that we started the national school nutrition programme, which benefits nine million learners from 21 000 schools per day to improve their performance in class. For the current financial year, government will spend some R6.8-billion on the nutrition scheme.”
Zuma said government wanted youth to access higher education regardless of the economic status of their families.
“Since its inception, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme [NSFAS] has disbursed more than R72-billion rand in loans and bursaries to students from poor households.
“More than two million students currently continue to receive NSFAS funding at our tertiary institutions including those at the Technical, Vocational Education and Training colleges.
“We await the findings of the Heher Commission of Inquiry with great interest in advising us on the funding of higher education, which is an apex priority for the democratic government.”
He urged the youth to access education, explaining that he never received formal education but took it upon himself to be educated.
“I never went to school, there were many problems at that times…I took it to myself to study. I did not study for exam but for knowledge,” he said giggling.