Let’s honour Class of ’76 through actions‚ not words: Maimane

Mmusi Maimane
Mmusi Maimane

Fixing education and creating opportunities for the youth of today is the best way to pay tribute to the legacy of the students who lost their lives in the Soweto uprising‚ says Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.

“We owe it to the Class of ’76‚ and we owe it to our children‚” he told a gathering at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Orland West‚ Soweto‚ to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the June 16 1976 student uprising.

Maimane charged that the ANC government had become the very thing the students were rising against 40 years ago.

 “They have become the protector of the status quo. They have become the denier of opportunity.

“They have sabotaged this generation that we still naively call ‘born frees’‚” the DA leader asserted.

He said the true legacy of President Jacob Zuma’s ANC would be its failure to provide this generation with an education they could use.

“The education his government provides to millions of black children is no better than the Bantu Education of 40 years ago. In fact‚ many believe it is worse.”

Maimane said that the youths had taken to the streets 40 years ago to protest primarily against Afrikaans as the language of instruction‚ but in truth the protest was about far more than that – it was to claim their own future.

“They stood up and said: we will not accept an inferior education. We will not accept the dead-end that awaits us if we carry on down this path‚” said Maimane‚ adding that Bantu education was a deliberate plan to suppress a new generation of black South Africans – “To keep them in their place.”

“With the fall of Apartheid and the birth of our democracy‚ this was meant to be the first thing that changed.

 “We were supposed to start building a new society by beginning with the youth. By ensuring that no child in South Africa would ever have to endure the insult that was Bantu Education again.

“But 22 years into this democratic project‚ our government has let these children down‚” Maimane stated.

“Most of our schools are dysfunctional today. Outside of the well-funded‚ well-staffed schools in our city suburbs‚ our basic education ranks amongst the worst in the world.

“Millions of children sit in crowded classrooms every day in front of teachers who are both unwilling and unable to teach them the basics of their curriculum.

“Most of these teachers belong to a union that has taken over our basic education and now runs it like a crime syndicate.

“Jobs are exchanged for cash‚ teachers refuse to be performance-tested‚ and schools are shut down for weeks‚ even months‚ as ongoing strikes make teaching impossible.

“And then we are expected to share the Education Ministry’s shock when the matric results implode‚” Maimane said.

The reality for most children in the country’s failed education system was bleak‚ he added.

“Only half of those who start Grade 1 will one day sit down to write matric. And almost a third of those who do write‚ won’t pass.

“These children will then step out of this failed education system and into a broken economy where two-thirds of them won’t be able to find a job.

“And this is the true legacy of Jacob Zuma’s ANC.

“Not Nkandla. Not the Guptas. Not the billions pocketed from the Arms Deal‚ the Nuclear Deal and whatever other deal they have lined up.

“The true legacy of Jacob Zuma’s ANC will be their failure to provide this generation with an education they can use‚” Maimane said.

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