South Africa: Former president Jacob Zuma speaks to black school pupils

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Jacob Zuma has warned school children to be careful about their study fields. (Thuli Dlamini, Gallo Images, The Times, file)
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Mxolisi Mngadi

Former president Jacob Zuma has encouraged black school pupils to follow fields of studies that will empower them to participate “fully” in the economy of the country.

“Be choosy in what you study. You must study serious things that are the pillars of the economy of this country. That’s where we must be empowered,” he said on Wednesday at the Durban City Hall, at an event organised by the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) to discuss free education.

Zuma said he had wanted to announce the decision on free education earlier in 2017, but that he had been forced to satisfy everyone who had an issue with it before he could make the announcement.

“I think it’s an historic decision we have taken. This decision, many years to come, people will appreciate it. I’m convinced, 20 years from now, South Africa will be at another level. It would have produced creators of work, rather than seekers of work,” he said.

Colonisers had started wars, grabbed the land, and brought in laws that made it difficult for black people to claim back the land, said Zuma.

“We need lawyers from you guys who will amend the laws on land. We need lawyers who must make the law according to the real challenges of this country. Many land claims fail because the laws on land claims were written by white lawyers. Whites study commercial law, while we study criminal law to defend criminals who stab people,” said Zuma.

Freedom Charter

He said the issue of freedom was “complex” if blacks were not participating in the economy of the country.

“If you’re only studying to be a good worker, and not to create jobs, then you are in trouble,” he warned the high school pupils who filled the ground floor of the hall to capacity.

He warned them that if they were not empowered educationally, they would be workers their whole lives.

“It’s difficult to open a bank when you’re black. The money stays in big banks, so that they can control you fully. The quicker we empower ourselves with education the better.”

Zuma said the issue of free and compulsory education had been an issue for a long time.

“In 1955, the people of SA, led by the ANC, drafted and adopted the Freedom Charter, which deals with clear specific issues that were to be addressed by freedom fighters in South Africa. Education was one of the issues that you find in the Freedom Charter,” he said.

Education was central in the control of the economy of the country, he added.

He suggested that if education was not free and compulsory for all, then “We’ve not completed what the Freedom Charter says.”- News24

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