- Discussions on how to help further alleviate South Africa’s sky-high levels of poverty and unemployment took place earlier this month.
- Education can be a key to finding success, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa presented a speech during the opening session of the 55th National Conference, which took place on 16 December, 2022; a significant day in South Africa’s history.
“On behalf of the National Executive Committee, I would like to extend a very warm word of welcome to all delegates present here as well as our observers and guests for your attendance at this 55th National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC),” began Ramaphosa’s speech.
The theme of this year’s conference was: “Defend and Advance the Gains of Freedom: Unity through Renewal”, said the President.
“This theme calls upon us as delegates to this conference to pursue with greater vigour the rebuilding and renewal of the ANC, and, as a united movement, to advance the fundamental transformation of our economy and society,” he explained.
One of the most notable points of discussion presented within the President’s speech, was the use of education to effectively combat poverty within the country.
As of 2022, around 18.2 million people in South Africa have lived in extreme poverty; meaning approximately 123,000 more people were pushed into poverty compared to the previous year (2021).
Poverty is one of South Africa’s leading problems that only seems to worsen by the day, but it has also spawned various government aids meant to provide assistance to the country’s poorest individuals.
In his speech, Ramaphosa stated that in the long term, one of the most effective instruments to end poverty is through education.
As rising unemployment continues to burden the South African economy, some experts believe that the country’s inability to reform the education system is catching up with it.
However, over the last two decades, important progress has been made when it comes to accessing education.
South Africa has a significantly high level of enrolment in basic education. In 2019, 96% of six-year-old children attended an education institution.
But despite this success, the dropout rate from schools is unacceptably high, with the result being that less than half of children who start school (in Grade 1) make it past Grade 12.
An important intervention to improve school attendance and alleviate poverty was the introduction of no-fee schools in poor communities.
“We have seen the results of our investment in education in the steady improvement in overall matric pass rate since 1994,” elaborated Ramaphosa. “From the late 1990s, where the pass rate stood at around 50%, the matric pass rate last year was 76%.”
Known as Day of Reconciliation, the public holiday on which the Conference was held, came into effect in 1995 after the end of apartheid, with the intention of fostering reconciliation and national unity for the country.
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