Remarks by Premier of Kwazulu Natal Sihle Zikalala during the release of matric results for the class of 2020 held at the Anton Lembede Mathematics, Science and Technology Academy in La Mercy.
Today we gather to mark an important day as to celebrate the release of the matric results for the class of 2020.
As government and the people of KwaZulu Natal we join the rest of the country in a collective note to our children who last year wrote the matric exams. We are gathered here to congratulate and celebrate our learners the class of 2020, that has made us so proud under very trying circumstances. The 2020 cohort of learners have been tested not only through exams and the usual tests but by the pandemic of unimaginable proportions in human living memory.
The matric class of 2020 defied the odds to make it to this moment. You were able to rise beyond circumstances and excel during a pandemic. This is the class that has demonstrated resilience and tenacity and risen above all the circumstances with the help of your teachers, family and friends. You had to battle with many upheavals and adjust too many new normal. There were doubts that set it whether you will make it to, yet you made it this far because you worked hard.
We are here to say to all the learners, you have finally reached the pinnacle of your basic education and now sit to assess the hard work you put in.
So, we stand together today marveling at the journey we have travelled, the mountains we have climbed, the rivers we have had to cross and the valleys we have scaled for the past 12 years as we made it to matric.
Ladies and Gentlemen, at one level Education is a fairly good measure of how a country is skilling its youth and its workforce in readiness for the real world. Indeed, the content of a country’s education and particularly its orientation, determines the extent to which it can successfully compete with its counterparts in the rest of the world.
Each time we educate a child, we educate a nation. Each time we educate a child we educate a community and a family.
At another level, for South Africa, education is therefore even more central because it places in the hands of all learners an asset of equal value as they enter the real world of further education and work.
In this manner the function of education is that of Social Cohesion, bringing together people regardless of race, class, religion, gender and place of origin.
As Nelson Mandela, the founding President of the democratic Republic of South Africa famously remarked, education is the greatest weapon we can use to achieve equality and to change the world.
Madiba said further and I quote:
“It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine that a child of farm workers can become a president”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Matric Class of 2020 entered last year with the enthusiasm and anxiety of all their predecessors, breathing a sigh of relief that they had finally reached the end of their schooling.
What we all did not bargain for was that 2020 was not going to be the same ever in the history of humanity.
The advent of Covid-19 redefined life like no other epidemic or war has ever been able to do before.
Covid-19 officially announced its arrival in March 2020 when this province recorded the first case of the deadly pandemic in the country.
By stroke of scientific discovery, we had landed among the nations of the world in Europe and Asia which were already deep into the pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic naturally brought pandemonium, a tinge of fear and trepidation as we entered into a world that until then, was unknown to us.
The national lockdown meant that schools were also closed down in order to allow the country, the continent to think through solutions against the Corona virus.
Education changes life, but life under Covid-19 changed Education drastically. The introduction of online education and remote learning has now become the new normal, but has admittedly been a disruptive force to what we were used to until then.
We want to congratulate the provincial department of education for steering the ship of our education through these murky waters and getting this result.
The result this year nationally reflects a qualitative dip compared to last year. A similar trend is observed in KwaZulu Natal, but we wish to state that these results are truly to be commended, given the strange and unusual circumstances we faced as a result of Covid19.
We wish to express our hearty congratulations to the Class of 2020 for refusing to be defined by the conditions they found themselves in and for keeping the eye on the prize. You have defied the worst form of gravity which threatened to bring you down, and you have risen to the occasion. We are proud of all you, each one who sat for this Matric Examination.
According to the figures the Province of KwaZulu Natal provided the largest number of candidates, and the largest number of successful candidates in the 2020 National Senior Certificate.
It is clear that without creating the impression that the Department has addressed and overcome all our challenges in KZN schools, it must be acknowledged that great progress has been made towards providing quality education and a conducive teaching and learning environment for teachers and learners.
Out of the 144307 candidates who enrolled, we acknowledge those all who have passed and those who excelled earning distinctions and the best available symbols. Your hard work has paid off and the future awaits you beyond the classroom of 2020.
We however also wish to send a special message to all those who may not have earned either a diploma or bachelor pass and may have to repeat Matric.
There remains an entire universe ahead of you outside of matric. We have developed an education system that embraces every human capacity from those who want to become engineers and pilots, to those who wany to serve society as Social Workers and Preachers.
We believe that Success or failure is not defined by how one performs at Matric. Success depends on the choices that one makes in life and one’s commitment to the art of self -discipline and hard work.
Our system has universities, universities of technology, but we want to encourage more and more people to take up Vocational Training and Skills Education.
Vocational education does not constitute a lower level of education but its practical nature is what a developing economy like ours requires. We cannot grow our economy and create jobs unless we encourage innovation with more people who can use their hands to build, repair and maintain.
We are pleased to report that we will continue to diversify the educational output of our system. By 2022 four new schools in KZN will implement the Teaching of Technical Occupational Subjects which we piloted in 2020.
These are Damarosa in Umlazi District, Westridge in Umlazi District, Tugela Pre-Vocational in Amajuba District and Newton in UMgungundlovu District. We can also assure you that for 2020/21 a further six schools in the province will pilot the technical occupational subjects as part of the introduction of the 3rd Stream.
These schools are Justice Nxumalo in Umkhanyakude District, Falaza Technical High School in Zululand District, Sihayo Technical School in Umzinyathi District, Enkomokazini Technical High School in Uthukela District, Ingwemabala Comprehensive High School in Ugu District and Singisi Technical High School in Harry Gwala District.
In 2021, two technical high schools will be added to the seventy (70) technical high schools that offer two or more technical subjects to bring the total to seventy two.
In the same year, the province will open the Dabulamanzi Agricultural Focus School as an addition to the four existing agricultural focus schools. As you are aware we launched the Anton Lembede Mathematics, Science and Technology Academy here in La Mercy.
As we said earlier, our educational offering must continue to equip every child with a variety of skills that provide opportunities for all.
For this reason, we are pleased that sixty (60) Foundation Phase Schools supported by the province are piloting Coding and Robotics in Grades R to 3. Furthermore, in 2021 two schools will pilot coding and drones as part of the curriculum at Grades 8 and 9. There are 149 schools to be added to the 60 schools which have been selected to pilot coding and robotics in 2021 supported by Department of Basic Education.
Our schools must also teach Entrepreneurship and having piloted the programme in King Cetshwayo, in 2021/22 we are to upscale to include more districts.
Already in 2020/21 the Department recruited 1737 unemployed youth and provided them with a stipend and bursaries to undergo a qualification training from 3 TVET Colleges of UMgungundlovu TVE College, Umfolozi TVET College and UMnambithi TVET College.
With these words we again say congratulations for the hard work. We also want to thank the parents and the community for the role they continue to play in the delivery of a successful education system.
We have always known that it takes a village to teach a child. In 2020, we learnt the true and practical meaning of that statement.
We applaud the leadership of the Department under MEC Kwazi Mshengu and all our social partners who are working tirelessly to ensure that KZN regains its respectability in quality education provision and outcomes.
Once again congratulations and well done. The hard lessons of 2020 will stand you in good stead and serve as an important stepping stone into the brighter future. You are the giants and models that many will look up to and stand on their shoulders
Well done class of 2020! We are proud of your accomplishments!
I thanks you.