The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, is deeply saddened by the passing away of one of the foremost education activists in the struggle against apartheid, Cde Graeme Bloch.
Minister Nzimande passes his condolences to Cde Bloch's wife Cheryl Carolus and his eight siblings, and the entire mass democratic movement in our country.
Graeme Bloch passed away peacefully on Friday, 9 April 2021, at Constantiaberg Hospital in Cape Town. He succumbed to an uncommon brain disorder affecting movement and control of walking, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), seven years after his diagnosis.
"Cde Graeme was a struggle hero, educationist, and activist. He had an illustrious political career and extensively fought against apartheid during his days as a student activist at the University of Cape Town."
Minister Nzimande said Graeme Bloch led from the front. He fought alongside the poor, the working class and the disenfranchised, amongst others, challenging the apartheid authorities on their discriminatory education system.
"Graeme was intellectually astute. Our current education policies find expression from Graeme's policy positions of the '70s, '80s and '90s. Today, we can cheerfully claim that his contribution was indeed immeasurable and futuristic. I must emphasise that he was a visionary who amongst many of our leaders advocated for the decolonisation of our education system in order to benefit the poor and the working class," emphasised Minister Nzimande.
"Graeme never let the colour of his skin determine his political consciousness and activism, rather he epitomised a non-racial character in his activism which was intrinsic in his life. He stood for the truth, no matter what the consequences were at the time by marrying his wife, fellow UDF activist, former ANC Secretary General- a stalwart in her own right, cde Cheryl Carolus ," said Minister Nzimande. Like many of our anti-apartheid activists, he was arrested and detained numerous times for his involvement in the democratic movement and banned and restricted to Cape Town from 1976 to 1981.
Before 1994, he was an executive member of the National Education Crisis Committee (NECC) as well as the United Democratic Front (UDF), and both organisations were part of the anti-apartheid movement challenging various laws and policies of the apartheid oppressive system.
Even post-1994 South Africa, Cde Bloch continued to write and publish extensively on matters of education and contributed immensely to forging democratic principles of education. He also continued to serve in many capacities in our universities, including the University of Cape Town Council, University of Witwatersrand's Public and Development Management School (P&DM) and also served as a senior researcher at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (Mistra).
"In Graeme's memory, I would like to urge our contemporary writers and education commentators to emulate Graeme's exemplary stewardship which he unselfishly shared with the South African education landscape for social and economic emancipation of the poor and the working class. Indeed this work will remain engraved in our minds through the books and papers that he wrote.
I would also like to thank his family and relatives who shared Graeme with us. May his soul rest in eternal peace.