Take education seriously, urges Zuma

2013-06-14 14:43
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ANC holds rally in Soweto

Nelson Mandela was acknowledged during an ANC rally in Soweto attended by President Jacob Zuma. See the pictures.

Johannesburg - Everyone should take education seriously, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.

"If it was up to me, education would not just be free but compulsory," Zuma told students at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus.

"Every child would be at school... We need to empower South Africans, all of them."

It should be a crime not to send a child to school, he said.

In what seemed to be a reference to former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema's statements that he was a dictator, Zuma said: "If I was a dictator I would have many of these prisons turned into colleges. All these young guys who commit crime, take them there.

"[But] I'm not a dictator," he said, laughing.


Zuma told the students he was interested in what they had to say and what suggestions they had.

He asked what needed to be done to shape the country's future.

Looking at the problems the country faced, people also needed to look at its background.

"Today you can hear people criticising government... They have forgotten that government is trying to face problems that have been there for centuries... they act like only in 1994 we started messing up education," the president said.

"Education has played a very critical role in this country."

Zuma said people could be critical but he knew government was "doing well". Education, finally, had the foundation it did not have in the past.

"Results are beginning to rise, they will never drop again, this is because we now have a foundation."

Students were given the opportunity to interact with Zuma and ask questions after he addressed them.

Hector Pieterson Memorial

Earlier in the day, Zuma attended a wreath-laying ceremony at Hector Pieterson Memorial Square in Orlando West, Soweto.

He was joined by African National Congress leaders in Gauteng. These included premier Nomvula Mokonyane, ANCYL Gauteng leader Lebogang Maile, and Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau.

Pieterson was one of the first children shot by apartheid security forces during a protest in the area on 16 June 1976.

The day is now marked as "Youth Day".

Afterwards, Zuma went on door-to-door visits in the area.

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Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  johannesburg  |  soweto  |  youth  |  education

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