Jacob Zuma: Pupils of R100m school should work harder to live Madiba’s ideals

2014-01-18 09:12

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Pupils and teachers at the new Mandela School of Science and Technology in Mvezo, Eastern Cape, have a special bond with Madiba and should work hard to make sure his ideals live through them, President Jacob Zuma has said.

Zuma was speaking during the official opening of the state-of-the-art school in the birthplace of former president Nelson Mandela, who died early last month.

“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 president said.

Addressing thousands of guests – including learners, parents teachers, members of the community and people from various walks of life – yesterday, Zuma said the school was a fitting tribute to Mandela, who believed in education.

“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,” said Zuma.

The president urged the more than 300 new learners at the school to make a bright future for themselves by using a facility Mandela could not dream of when growing up in Mvezo, an impoverished village overlooking the Mbashe River.

The school is the first high school in Mvezo. A mud school, Inkwenkwezi Primary School, was converted into the new facility.

The R100 million school boasts three double-storey classroom buildings housing 25 classrooms and three laboratories for science, biology and agriculture.

It also has a resource centre with two computer laboratories, an engineering design laboratory and a library as well as a teachers’ accommodation complex.

The president, who was flanked by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Premier Noxolo Kiviet and one of Mandela’s grandchildren, Mandla Mandela, who said mud schools should be a thing of the past.

“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,” Zuma said.

He applauded international engineering firm Siemens for its investment in the school, saying he was privileged to open a school inspired by Madiba himself, who had asked Siemens for the construction of the facility in 2010.

“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.”

Mandla Mandela said he was moved to see his grandfather’s dream being realised.

“As we are here today to witness the opening of this great facility, many emotions linger, because the project of this school was inspired by my grandfather, a great giant that touched all of us,” Mandla said.

He said Madiba had left the people of Mvezo and the country with an amazing gift.

“Madiba was moved by the construction of this school. He knew and always told us that education was the tool to change the world,” Mandla said.

Mandla also announced that sections of the school had been named after members of his family, including the wives of Madiba’s father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, and Madiba’s wives, the late Evelyn Mase, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Graça Machel.

He praised Graça, who was not present at the event, for having cared for Madiba until the end.

“She [Graça] cared for my grandfather until the very last second of his life, for that we will always remain grateful,” Mandla said.

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