It is with mixed feelings I stand before you today! A day in history on which South African lives were reported to have changed, a day on which we as citizens of this country are calling for the celebration of our youth but instead should be commemorating the lives lost during that tragic event in 1976. Lives that were lost in a fight for the opportunity for a better education system in which all students could achieve the best standard of learning in a language they could understand.
Reports of that time vary and figures of between 10000 and 20000 students stood up and raised their voices against the substandard education of the time. Young people of that time who’s names we have grown to know but also names that we seldom hear any more.
It saddens me to think that in 43 years, where young people insisted on receiving a better education, the government that was elected to lead a racially fair South Africa in 1994, a government which was and is made up of a number of those very students of the time, has concentrated on increasing the number of students passing annually in all grades at the cost of the quality of the bench mark of a minimum pass level.
Young people have a perception that by having a matric certificate they are entitled to receiving a job, that they are entitled to a high salary in that job and that they have “ARRIVED”.
Without wanting to put a damper on the proceedings, I believe it is time to tell you the truth.
There are 100’s of 1000s of students leaving school every year with a standard Matric certificate, a certificate which says passed all subjects or passed adequate subjects in order to move on and to “Start life as an Adult.” Guess what? It is not good enough! How many General Assistants do you think any company can employ? How many Tea makers, general cleaners or messengers or drivers do you believe are needed in a society that is becoming increasingly technological? A world where machines make the perfect coffee and robots can clean better than humans?
If you were to require surgery and the doctor doing the operation was instructed by law to show you his qualifications with the marks received for his exams do you think that anybody would accept anything below the highest internationally recognized percentage? Do you think that you would board an aircraft if you knew that a pilot had no experience other than playing video games and a matric certificate?
Then why should a company employ you over the other thousands of young people, all just looking for a position?
Now here is the truth you have been waiting for,
“LIFE OWES YOU NOTHING!”
“LIFE IS WHAT YOU DECIDE TO MAKE OF IT, IF YOU DON’T LEARN YOU CANNOT EXPECT TO EARN.”
Here is another very interesting fact that you might want to think about, if you want what I have there is only one way to go about it, work for it. I have often said to people and to my children, A thief that steals your money or your belongings will possibly be able feed his family for a night or a short period of time until the money runs out but will have learnt nothing and will always remain a thief, how will he survive when there is nothing more to steal? But a person that takes Knowledge and transforms that into an income will always be able to take care of his family and will be able to adapt to changing circumstances.
The message that I would like to give the youth of today is the following:- Hastings Ndlovu and Hector Pietersen, who were the first of the children to have been shot in 1976, sacrificed their lives and DIED because they were part of a generation that wanted to be able achieve their dreams through improved education. What is your generation going to be known for? That choice is yours and if you accept mediocrity you can not expect excellence.
Find the answers to your own WHY before trying to solve the WHAT and HOW for others. Nobody can make up your mind or change your life for you, you need to make that choice for your self and change only occurs when the NEED to change is greater than the WANT to Change.