Thank you Programme Director, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services, Representative from the City of Tshwane and all Local Councillors present, Mr Siyabonga Mahlangu, Group Executive of Telkom, Officials from the Gauteng Education Department, Chairperson of the School Governing Body, Mr Mokoena, the Principal of Dennis A Mokoma Secondary School, Educators, Parents and community members, Our learners,
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to be joining you this afternoon as we officially handover a connected mobile ICT lab to the Dennis A Mokoma Secondary School as a part of Telkom’s “Connected Schools” programme. This modern mobile ICT lab will enable our learners to access educational content, provide them with connectivity to the internet and assist with facilitating training for our learners and teachers in critical ICT skills.
It is necessary that every South African understands that we are living in a world where Information and Communication Technologies (ICT’s) are not only transforming how we live, how we do business, how we relate to each other and even how we play, but they have become an important enabler of economic development and social inclusion as we work to correct the dehumanising impact of the brutal apartheid regime. Our former President, comrade Nelson Mandela understood that we need to ensure that all our people have access to an internet connection, particularly those who come from the townships and rural areas as they were most affected by apartheid. He said that should we leave this section our communities unconnected, the impact of this digital divide would leave our people in a far worse off position than the unjust apartheid regime.
Today, we are celebrating a 100 years since the establishment of the University of Fort Hare which produced many of our leaders who fought for our freedom. Among those we can count President Robert Mugabe, former President Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Mangosuthu Buthelezi and many others who have had a significant impact on our own liberation. It is sad that as we celebrate this important day, there is a group of students who are intent on disrupting those celebrations. A celebration of 100 years of the education of the black person. It is on that basis that I would like to add to the call that we should endeavour to always avoid the destruction of property, and our history which can never be acceptable in this day and age of our freedom. Ladies and Gentlemen, We are also celebrating Africa Month under the theme “Build a better Africa and a better world”. In this respect, we will be focusing on getting to know our African history and telling African stories. It is very important that each and every one of us should be able to tell our African stories on where we come from as a nation. It is only when we know where we are coming from that we can know where we are going. This lack of understanding of our history is what leads us to start these disruptive activities because we do not understand what we are aspiring to build as a nation.
During this Africa Month, we will be focusing on building African unity and solving Africa’s problems by Africans. We cannot continue to be told by the developing world on how to solve Africa’s problems as African leaders. We have our agenda for transforming Africa, the Agenda 2063 which has been adopted by our leaders. This agenda must be driven by you our young people and society for it to have a meaningful impact to all in Africa. This month we are celebrating 20 years since the adoption of our Constitution. The African National Congress (ANC) government remains steadfast in efforts to ensure that all South Africans enjoy the equality put into effect by our Constitution, even when it comes to providing access to broadband. Access to the internet which is one of the greatest equalisers of our time will ensure that a child in Mabopane has access to the same educational content as a child in the wealthier suburbs of Pretoria East. It is with the same conviction as uTata Mandela that our government under the leadership of the ANC is working hard to connect all South Africans to fast, reliable and affordable broadband by the year 2030 through our national broadband strategy and plan called South Africa Connect. Programme Director, His Excellency President Zuma during his State of the Nation Address reiterated our commitment to Phase 1 of this project to connect all government institutions in the 8 district municipalities. Phase 1 is starting in the remotest districts of our country.
We are not forgetting the rest of the country hence we have also completed a business case for Phase 2 of this project to connect all the remaining districts including our Metros. All our schools must be connected to fast, reliable and affordable internet. The mobile ICT lab we are launching today contributes directly to our vision of a connected South Africa where all citizens participate in the vibrant knowledge economy and an inclusive information society. We appreciate the efforts of Telkom to be a part of this revolution and transformation of our society. Telkom, asisashodi ngawe because you have joined us in this journey to connect even the remotest parts of our country. We continue to urge other companies particularly those in the ICT sector to play their part in the realisation of this ideal. Just this past financial year, our Department invested R40 million towards deploying free public Wi Fi in 6 Metros to communities across South Africa. This includes the deployment of 61 sites in the areas of Saulsville, Winterveld and Mabopane in the City of Tshwane as a part of the Tshwane Free Wi-Fi project.
I am proud that Tshwane is leading in this project to deploy free Wi-Fi to our communities. This may appear to some as nothing, but I have heard that there was a hotspot close to this school that was vandalised. That is not acceptable because that action is depriving the community of this empowering tool called the internet. The community is deprived access to information aimed at empowering them. We will continue to work with our councillors, community leaders and the Community Policing Forum (CPF) to stop these activities. It is the responsibility of the community to identify and isolate these criminals who are responsible. Programme Director, Today’s handover event takes place during a week when we are celebrating the World Telecommunications and Information Society Day under the theme “ICT entrepreneurship for social impact.” This theme encourages all countries to realise the role that ICTs can play to assist small businesses to grow and contribute positively towards our economic growth.
I was encouraged to have learnt of Martin Nyokolodi, a young person from Soshanguve who has become a social entrepreneur by using the Tshwane free public Wi-Fi to run an online radio station aimed at developing the youth. I hope that the connectivity and tools Telkom has provided to the DA Mokoma Secondary will enable our learners to explore means through which they can make a lasting social impact and they will explore ideas that may help them to start small businesses and become active participants in the economy. Ladies and Gentlemen, It is an honour that I will be unveiling a mobile ICT lab which can be used as a paperless classroom for modern teaching and learning. This lab has been equipped with 21 laptops, an interactive white board, projector, a printer, speakers and 4 desktop workstations for educators. Telkom has committed to providing 50 GB of data for the next coming 2 years to connect the laptops and enable a Wi-Fi for use by learners and educators on the school premises.
I would like to challenge Telkom to push and not only connect one classroom, but to connect all classrooms and make this school a good example on what a connected school is and what it can achieve. I am happy that Telkom is not just giving you these computers but will provide training for our educators and learners on how these state of the art modern tools and connectivity can be incorporated into classroom teaching and learning. Just last week we were led by Deputy President Ramaphosa to the World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali. The key challenges we face in Africa are poor connectivity and resistance to adoption of ICTs due to a lack of training to those who must use the technology.
I am happy that the teachers of Dennis A Mokoma will be empowered to pass on the knowledge to our learners, the young bright minds. President Zuma has directed us that part of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme should be ring-fenced to help our learners study towards the scarce skills in South Africa. We want our learners to study and become systems developers, engineers to design and manufacture affordable ICT hardware such as tablets and even IT specialists. I am confident that these tools we have provided will enable you as our learners to be a part of the development of our country. I have been told that this school in the past had been achieving an average pass rate of 80% which has been declining over the years. I support the point made by Ms Kubayi to reverse this trend and work towards making sure the school achieves even higher pass rates. I also heard the learner who spoke on behalf of the school that the goal is a 100% pass rate. I fully agree as no learner must be left behind. I am looking forward to Dennis A Mokoma’s results at the end of this year to testify to this change as a reality.
Our government is investing in the future of our young people because we believe they are an important resource that will enable our development as a nation through their innovation and energy. I would like to encourage our learners to use these ICT technologies to better their lives. The previous speaker also spoke about the 4th industrial revolution. The first of these revolutions was when the power of steam was discovered and used in steam engines. This industrial revolution enabled the mechanisation of production which starting setting countries apart based on their access to this technology. The second industrial revolution was the discovery of electric power which fuelled mass production. The third came just a few decades ago with the introduction of ICTs which led to the automation of production. The current industrial revolution is hitting the world with a big bang, the 4th industrial revolution which is the true digital revolution. There is fusion of technologies and we are now connected to and can communicate with gadgets and machines. This hyper connectivity is what is driving the 4th industrial revolution.
We are not preparing ourselves so that we do not fall on the backside of this industrial revolution. We are preparing our people, the employed and unemployed, young and old to be able to use these ICTs so that they are not left behind by this revolution. This is what will differentiate countries and determine their competitiveness. You my children, are the frontiers that will lead the 4th industrial revolution. Ladies and Gentlemen, May I take this opportunity to say that on the 3rd of August is a very important day in South Africa. That is where we are going to renew the mandate of those who are going to lead us at a local level. I am very happy that our councillors who are here continue to link with the communities.
As councillors you must know the problems of each household and each institution in your community. I am reminding our people, particularly those who will be 18 by August that this is your last chance to go and register to vote. In the church I belong to, we always say that our road to full liberation is a long path as was said by Madiba. When you climb a hill and reach the top, you realise that there are many more hills to climb. But is we all pull in the same direction, we will succeed. I would like to encourage everyone to go to the voting stations and check whether your addresses are correct and whether your name is there so that when the day comes, you can go and vote for your leaders. I am encouraging you to go and vote for those with a track record. You must not be taken up by new ways of doing things which are adventurous.
Adventurism is a dangerous thing particularly when leading people. If you are adventurous, ungasithatha sonke usiyise eweni where there will be a point of no return. Follow those who have a good record in governance. Follow those who are concerned about how you live. I would also like to urge us to stop destroying properties where we live. Today is a day of celebration. When I was told about the history of this school, I discovered that uBaba u-Dennis was a leader in this community. He was a Mayor who concerned himself about the education of the people of this community. I was resolute that I will come and speak to you sick as I am so that his vision, the vision of OR Tambo, the vision of uTata Nelson Mandela can be fulfilled by this small token donated by Telkom.
I thank you.