As thousands of schools in South Africa's inland provinces opened their gates on Wednesday, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe shared a few valuable lessons with learners.
"You are the most privileged generation; we don't want to burden you with any [undue] responsibilities. The only responsibility for you is to learn," Motlanthe told learners at Pholosho Secondary School in Alexandra, Johannesburg.
Motlanthe was accompanied by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to check the school's readiness for the start of the new academic year. He also handed over school uniforms to 200 learners who are beneficiaries of the Department of Social Development.
'You must be at your desk learning'
Motlanthe, who was once a learner at the same school, encouraged learners to get to school on time. He reminded them that life was a long journey and that only they could decide what they wanted to be in the future.
"As government, we are determined to create an environment where learning and teaching will be conducive and nothing should disrupt the learning process ... You must be at your desk learning, that should be your priority. If anything interferes with your learning, raise it with your principal, SGB - even the President," Motlanthe said.
Motshekga said the department had done its part and the main focus was now on learners to pass with flying colours.
She urged members of the school governing body (SGB) to include on their agenda the item of learning and teaching in their monthly meetings, and parents to check their children's school work to see if there was enough work and progress in class.
"We are not laughing this year, you'll only succeed through learning and teaching in the classroom ... that's the focus for 2013.
"I hope we will have a different ANA [Annual National Assessment] result this year. For our kids to learn maths, they must do maths over and over again until they master it, and literature through reading," said Motshekga.
Regarding the state of readiness for the new academic year, an optimistic Motshekga said the department was ready to deliver quality education.
One-million new learners
"We are ready for Day 1. We are ready to welcome about one-million learners into the education system," she said.
A cheque of R10 000, donated by the office of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba - who was also a learner at Pholosho - was handed over to the school for bursaries to assist three learners.
School principal Margaret Tsakge said it was an honour for the school to be visited by the Deputy President and Basic Education Minister.
"It doesn't happen every [year] that you get to share the first day of schools reopening with them. It's really an honour," said Tsakge.
Grade 7 learner Nhlanhla Mnguni was just happy to see Motlanthe standing few metres away from where she was.
"I only see them on TV. This has given me courage to study hard so that I don't disappoint them, as they took their time to come and speak to us," said Nhlanhla.