Eastern Cape Premier, Ms Noxolo Kiviet
Basic Education Minister, Ms Angie Motshekga
Eastern Cape Education MEC, Mandla Makhuphula and other MECs present,
Siemens Southern Africa CEO, Mr Siegmar Proebstl
Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela
Acting MSST Principal, Mr Patuxolo Toni
Esteemed Teachers and
Members of the Community
Ladies and gentlemen
I am honoured to be part of this very important day in the history of Mvezo, the opening of the first ever high school in this village.
This very milestone project, the Mandela School of Science and Technology is a culmination of a pledge made in July 2010 by the former Chief Executive Officer of Siemens, Peter Löscher, to build this type of school in Mvezo.
The commitment has now been honoured. Mvezo has a fully equipped state of the art science and technology school, which I have a privilege to hand over to the community today.
Education is a societal issue and it is a priority not only of government but all of us, including the business community.
We thus appreciate the support from the private sector, in our quest to improve the quality of education in the country.
We applaud the investment of R100 million by Siemens to build this school, in honour of our global icon, the late President Nelson Mandela.
Madiba had to travel far to obtain secondary education because there was no secondary school in this area. Siemens has ensured that the children of Mvezo receive a state of the art science and technology school that Madiba did not even dream of way back then.
Siemens has added to our existing programme of improving schools in the Eastern Cape Province, including replacing mud schools with modern well-equipped schools.
No child should be taught in a mud school, and no teacher should teach in a mud school. We have made that our commitment and we work hard each year to have all these inappropriate schools replaced.
We are proudly delivering one new school a week in the Eastern Cape as we take the school building campaign forward, as part of our infrastructure development programme.
The importance of this function today is that we are opening a science and technology school.
While we have achieved record matric results, we still have challenges in science and technology.
We took a decision to improve the teaching of Mathematics, Science and Technology strategy in order to increase the number of learners taking maths and science subjects and increase performance in these subjects.
All learners in grade 1-6 are now being tested annually in literacy and numeracy/mathematics, using a standard national test, the annual national assessment. This enables us to monitor progress and deal with challenges in the teaching of these crucial subjects.
We had to work harder to improve maths, science and technology given the targets we set for ourselves in 2009 when the fourth administration came into office.
To meet the skills requirement of a changing economy we committed ourselves to producing the following numbers of graduates;
51 460 engineering, 51 747 animal and human health and 40 607 teacher graduates for the period 2011-2014.
To support knowledge development in the country we committed ourselves to increasing the numbers of honours graduates to 76 545, masters graduates to 17 241, and doctoral graduates to 5 356.
So you can see the road we must travel to meet all these targets.
Societies advance through science and technology, and our country should not be left behind.
We should make science and technology a joy for our learners.
This school is also unique in a sense that it provides specialisation in the various streams of science at this very level, and the focus areas include engineering, science, technology and agriculture.
It will therefore provide solid grounding for learners and contribute to addressing skills shortages in these critical areas in our country.
I trust that through the collective work of the principal, the teachers, and the Mvezo community, this school will be an institution of excellence in every single respect.
This school is an excellent example of the public-private partnerships that we always promote as government.
Siemens' partnership with the Department of Basic Education and the Mvezo Development Trust has turned Madiba's dream into a reality which will change lives.
Through its involvement in the construction of this school, the community showed that they are an integral part of this partnership.
Also heartening is Siemens' commitment to contribute towards the school's operational and maintenance costs for three years.
This is a profound gesture of true partnership, which should be reciprocated with hard work by the learners.
The school also provides lodging for teachers, which spares them the agony of sometimes long distances of travel.
This will in turn reserve a much more prolonged interaction with the learners, which will provide good results in the school.
The school is named after the nation's greatest son. This makes the teachers and learners here very special for they have a direct bond with Madiba, which means they should work harder to make his ideals live through them.
The school's compelling motto, Education is Freedom, means freedom to realise potential in all areas, whether as individuals or as part of the collective.
Madiba was passionate about education, about the plight of children, for they are the future of this country.
That is why he was always raising funds to build schools in the country, particularly among the most disadvantaged communities. This is the legacy that should be continued.
His famous saying that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” resonates with special meaning today.
But it is important to understand that any weapon is powerful if it is sharpened and used effectively, so that its potential is realised.
Therefore I urge all the learners from Mvezo and other places who are studying here, that in memory of Madiba and his aspirations, you should use this opportunity very constructively, study hard and build yourself a bright future.
Let us also look after the school well. This is our school, let us take immense pride in it and preserve it in pristine form, so that many coming generations also benefit from it.
Let us raise its prestige above the levels of famous schools in the history of this country, such as Healdtown, Ohlange and many others.
Unlike them during those times, we are free, we have better resources, and we need only will and determination, which drove them to reach greatest heights despite lack of resources.
More importantly, the Mandela School of Science and Technology must be the training ground for the leaders of tomorrow. We want you to produce leaders in various fields, in honour of the distinguished man after whom the school is named.
Let me also remind matric learners in this province that we made a commitment in 2009 to achieve 175 000 bachelor passes in 2014.
We urge you to work hard to help us achieve that target!
The most important thing, if you listen to best matric achievers is that they have the will and drive to achieve exceptionally, and they start well in time, at the very beginning of the year.
This is why you will always see even learners from the most underprivileged backgrounds among the top achievers as well.
It is because they have the will and determination.
Once more we thank Siemens and its partners for this invaluable investment.
May it be a turning point for the people of Mvezo, and let its light shine even for the entire country!
I thank you.