Africa-Press – South-Africa. PIETERMARITZBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa says the Bantu education system which together with the imposition of Afrikaans as the language of teaching in schools, which sparked the June 1976 students riot, was no education at all.
Ramaphosa made these remarks while delivering his address of this year’s Youth Day celebrations in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday.
Due to Covid-19 curbs since the country was now on level 3, Ramaphosa did not travel to Pietermaritzburg, and instead delivered the address virtually.
After 1994, when the country gained its freedom from the apartheid government, the ANC government made June 16 Youth Day to honour of the country’s youth.
“On this day 45 years ago, brave young women and men in Soweto and other parts of our country rose up against injustice. Unarmed, and in their school uniforms, they came out in their numbers, shouting, ‘Down with Afrikaans’. They were taking a stand against a cruel and unjust system. They were rebelling against Bantu education, which, despite its name, was no education at all. It was another tool of the apartheid system to keep black South Africans in servitude,” Ramaphosa said.
Full of praise for the youth of 1976 which included Hector Pieterson Sibongile Mkhabela, Seth Mazibuko and Tsietsi Mashinini, among others, Ramaphosa said they ignited a fire of resistance that even the apartheid government could not extinguish.
“The young South Africans of 1976 spurred an international movement for the isolation of the apartheid regime.
“They lit a fire of resistance that the racist government of Pretoria would not be able to extinguish, no matter how hard they tried. When many of our leaders were jailed or exiled, it was young people who showed the world that freedom is not given, but it is taken. We salute them.
“We owe our liberation to them, and to the many others who sacrificed so we could all be free today,” he said.
With regard to the issues of today’s youth, Ramaphosa said they have better opportunities than their parents and grandparents, but he admitted that they faced enormous challenges on their path to economic emancipation, with unemployment being a major hindrance.
He told them that the country’s economy has been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, but said as there are efforts to revive the economy, young people would be at the centre stage.
“Right now, our economy is suffering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. A situation that was already bad, has gotten worse. We are putting young people at the centre of our national recovery.
“It is the singular focus of this administration to ensure that young people are given access to opportunities so they can better themselves, that they can drive change in their communities, and contribute to our economy. As government, we are driving a number of initiatives, some of which began before the pandemic.”
Ramaphosa mentioned a range of initiatives undertaken by government to ensure that young people are economically empowered. Among them was an online platform called SAYouth.mobi, which would easily avail information at no cost to young people.
“I want to make a call to young South Africans to register on SAYouth.mobi. You can create a profile, view opportunities for learning and earning, and receive support through multiple channels. SAYouth.mobi has been zero-rated by all mobile networks so that it can be accessed by young people from anywhere in the country at absolutely no cost.
“This will complement our existing efforts to create physical spaces where young people can go to access information, opportunities and support. This already includes the National Youth Development Agency centres and will include the 127 labour centres operated by the Department of Labour and Employment in every province.”