Education a passion - Zuma
Johannesburg - Education was a major priority for the government, President Jacob Zuma said in Benin on Sunday.
Zuma was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Abomey-Calavi in Cotonou, Benin.
"We have obtained our political freedom. To go further and achieve the economic freedom we so desire, we have so decided to invest in education and skills development," Zuma said in his acceptance speech prepared for delivery.
Education received the biggest share of the country's budget.
In 2010/2011 government allocated R65bn to the department of basic education and higher education and training. This was R17bn more than in 2009/2010, said Zuma.
The number of children who did not pay school fees because of poverty had increased from 5.2 million to over 14 million.
"This will raise the school enrolment of children aged seven to 15 in my country to 98 percent by 2014, which will also help us, meet millennium development goals obligations and also help many South Africans to be active role players in advancement of our democracy," said Zuma.
Zuma said he was passionate about education because of his inability to get the education he desired.
"This passion makes me to strive tirelessly towards ensuring that every child who wants to learn obtains the opportunity to do so," he said.
Zuma was on a one-day State visit to the West African country.
Foreign news agency Agence France-Presse reported that Zuma had met Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi on Sunday and the two signed off on a co-operation deal aimed at boosting flights between the two countries.
Agreements reached during the visit were also expected to eliminate the need for visas for citizens of either country visiting the other.