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ANC statement ahead of Youth Day 2017

15 June 2017

The African National Congress joins millions of South Africans in commemorating the 41st anniversary of the historic 1976, June 16, youth uprisings. We commemorate the National Youth Day under the theme "Year of OR Tambo: Youth to the front, leading the charge on radical economic transformation"

It was on this day that young people took to the streets in protest against policies of the oppressive apartheid government. Not only did they protest, but they were prepared to sacrifice their lives, for the right to education and the political freedom we continue to enjoy today. True to its character, the apartheid government opened fire on the protesting students, and as a result a number of protesters lost their lives. These generation continues to occupy a special space in our history.

As a nation, we have come a long way in creating a conducive environment to enable the youth of today to prosper.

Since 1994, the ANC government has made great strides in providing access to quality basic and tertiary education. We continue to prioritise the quality of teaching and learning in our schools.

41 years since the youth uprisings, South African schools have become more inclusive and more equitable in terms of staffing, teacher provisioning, and resourcing. We take pride in the fact that over seven million learners attend and receive quality education in no-fee schools and over nine million learners receive daily meals at their various schools. The number of learners who passed matric increased from 50% before 1994 to 76.2% in 2016.

Our efforts at expanding and improving the capacity of the higher education and training system are yielding positive results. We have attained the Millennium Development Goals for universal primary education and are working towards the total eradication of illiteracy.

Student enrollment in universities has more than doubled from 495 000 in 1994, to 953 000 in 2012. The proportion of university students who were Africans has increased from 49% in 1995, to more than 66% in 2010. Student enrollment at TVET colleges increased from 345 566 in 2010 to 657 690 in 2012.

As stated in the 2017 January 08th statement "Our successes in basic education add to the legitimate demands for quality and affordable post-school education". We remain committed to the progressive realisation of free and quality education for the poor and the working class as enshrined in the Freedom Charter.

The Education, Health and Science Discussion Document towards the 05th National Policy Conference to be held this year, correctly states that "the ANC resolved after the 2015 NGC that uncontrolled fee increases should be curbed in colleges and universities and directed government to put in place regulations to implement those throughout the higher education and training sector"

A newly structured National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has been introduced to enable fee-free education for the poor and the working class. To this end, NSFAS covers over 75% of students in tertiary institutions. The ANC led-government has also introduced measures to assist the students whose families earn up to R600 000 a year.

As the ANC, we remain confident that the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training will make productive recommendations on the long-term funding of higher education and training.

Despite the current economic challenges, work is being done to promote youth co-operatives and entrepreneurs. More young people are in work places today than ever before. However, much more work needs to be done to ensure that we collectively address unemployment, poverty and inequality. The ANC led-government has set aside funds to support youth entrepreneurship, through the Department of Small and Medium Enterprises. We remain committed to working together with the private sector to expand the intake of young people.

As we work towards radical transformation of our economy, the African National Congress calls on this generation of youth to remain reliable and responsible forces of change. They must heed the enduring injunction by revolutionary and philosopher Frantz Fanon that "every generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill or betray it". Today's titanic struggle is against poverty, unemployment and inequality and requires young people to lead the struggle for Economic Freedom.

Issued by the African National Congress

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