Ladies and Gentlemen, Esteemed colleagues, Honourable guests,
It is indeed a distinct honour and privilege to address you at the Sanlam Foundation Education Programme launch.
This comes barely a week after I addressed the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) at their 10th-anniversary national convention at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg.
As you might know, the NECT manages the interface between the government, specifically the Department of Basic Education, and all the large businesses that invest in basic education.
I lauded the NECT as the gold standard in public-private partnerships at the event.
I emphasised the point of celebrating a decade of unprecedented collaboration between the Basic Education sector and big business, spearheaded by the National Education Collaboration Trust.
Our policy lodestar, the National Development Plan (NDP), calls for strong partnerships in education to achieve improved learner outcomes by 2030.
The NDP states that: “partnerships are essential for achieving the goals of the education sector.”
It goes on to say that “partnerships can help to improve the quality of education, increase access to education, and support the development of teachers”.
The NDP underscores the critical role of partnerships in advancing educational goals, emphasising collaborations that are foundational for the sector. These critical partnerships include:
Partnerships between government and business
Partnerships between government and civil society organisations
Partnerships between schools and communities
Partnerships between schools and parents
The NDP also emphasises the importance of ensuring that partnerships are equitable and beneficial to all parties involved.
In the words of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia: “Education is a human right, and it is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that all children have access to a quality education. Partnerships between government, civil society, and the private sector are essential to achieving this goal.”
This quote underlines our singular objective to cultivate partnerships with giants like Sanlam in education, working to achieve the national vision of an improved basic education system.
Therefore, as we gather today to mark the beginning of a remarkable new chapter in our national education framework, I stand before you with a profound sense of duty and optimism.
It is a moment to celebrate the collaborative spirit that has given birth to the Sanlam Foundation Education Programme, which furthers the policy prescriptions of the NDP.
I am pleased that we, as the government, are partnering with Sanlam, a proudly South African company with a footprint in Africa and beyond.
Sanlam is a well-established company with a long history of success, marked by a strong track record of profitability and growth.
Its well-managed structure upholds a staunch commitment to corporate governance and social responsibility.
Thus, it is no surprise that over the past 11 years, the Sanlam Foundation has unwaveringly channelled its resources, totalling a remarkable R716 million, into nurturing the pivotal domains of education, financial literacy, and health, amongst others.
The Sanlam Foundation’s concerted efforts have enriched lives, empowered communities, and built bridges to a brighter future, firmly grounded in the principles laid down in the NDP and the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs).
Today, we witness the crystallisation of a vision steeped in solidarity and foresight that echoes our ambitions as a government.
Our singular aim is to foster an environment of lifelong learning aimed at sculpting learners equipped to navigate the demands of a 21st-century landscape while preserving the vibrant cultural tapestry that defines our nation.
Ladies and gentlemen, we strive towards a noble objective to improve learner outcomes and ensure that no learner is left behind, all in our lifetime, by 2030, to be exact.
Thus, the role of Early Childhood Development (ECD) as foundational learning cannot be understated.
The tender ages between 3 and 9 years form a crucial phase for numeracy, reading, and home language development.
During this phase, seeds are sown that will nurture minds to blossom into stalwarts of tomorrow, well-versed in the foundational languages and rooted in the rich linguistic heritage of our nation.
At the secondary school echelon, the spotlight shifts to the robust fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, coupled with an emphasis on English as a first additional language.
This holistic approach is designed to hone young minds to spearhead our journey into a future brimming with innovation and global discourse, grounded in a profound understanding and mastery of these pivotal disciplines.
Therefore, it fills me with pride that Sanlam, as a newcomer to the sector, understands the nexus between early learning and the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and are prepared to fund it.
Our collaboration with the Sanlam Foundation stands as a testimony to the unyielding power of synergy, weaving together the expertise of governmental guidance with the strategic support rooted in evidence- based social impact fostered by the foundation.
This joint venture seeks to uplift our educational landscape through systematic interventions targeted at quintile 1 to 3 schools, shaping platforms of learning that resonate with international standards and inclusivity.
The provinces of Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, and the Western Cape stand on the cusp of a transformative journey, buoyed by this initiative that aims to engrain the principles of unity, democratic values, and an intrinsic respect for diversity in our learning environments.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is incumbent upon us to ensure the flawless execution of this programme.
This duty calls upon the meticulous orchestration of roles and responsibilities delineated for both the Department of Basic Education and the Sanlam Foundation.
The collaboration enables learners to focus on their education without financial constraints, as the Sanlam Foundation assumes all fiscal responsibilities, relieving Basic Education of any financial burden.
As we stand poised to officially launch the Sanlam Foundation Education Programme, it is with an enriched spirit and steadfast determination that we invite you to join hands in this remarkable endeavour.
This journey promises to mould generations anchored in knowledge, empowerment, and sustainable growth.
Let us move forward, nurturing this partnership to foster a nation where every individual is bestowed with the wings of education, soaring to heights untold yet grounded in the rich traditions and wisdom that is our collective heritage.