Address by President Nelson Mandela at the Joint Education Trust Annual Review

29 March 1996

Ladies and Gentlemen:

On its establishment, South Africa's first democratic government faced daunting challenges in the education sector. The lack of proper educational facilities and resources along with apartheid's devastating effect on our social fabric had created a crisis in education and training of immense proportions. The problem required a new multi-faceted approach to co-ordinate the efforts of different sectors of society, within an overall framework for fundamental change.

Thus we welcomed the formation of the Joint Education Trust in 1992 as a move inspired by patriotism and vision. Eighteen leading South African companies joined hands with our political parties, labour unions and educational organisations. This dynamic partnership of government, business, NGO's and community organisations has facilitated a practical programme within a common vision for peace, prosperity and opportunity for all South Africans.

The focus of the Joint Education Trust's activities locates it in areas that were most severely neglected historically - such as early childhood development; youth development; vocational training; and adult basic education and training. These are are sector working with government and communities, can make a marked impact, especially as catalysts for innovation.

By directing these activities towards those who have been pushed to the margins of our society, and by doing so in such a way that they are empowered to change their own conditions, we are making a very special contribution to the building of our nation.

One project that is close to my heart encapsulates the strengths of this partnership. It is the Ekuseni Youth Development Centre, initiative aimed at piloting a new approach to the rehabilitation of young convicted persons.

Government will provide the running costs once the facility is established. However, without the capital injection of R33,6 million by the Private Sector Initiative, government's capacity to create an environment conducive to learning and rehabilitation would be severely limited.

Construction and upgrading is underway and I have full confidence that the project will replicate itself throughout the country and in so doing revolutionise youth rehabilitation policy.

Multiplied across almost 400 projects, the principles represented by the Trust are forging a partnership for development that bodes well for the new patriotism that is shaping our nation. It is a practical and significant investment in our youth and therefore in our future.

I thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation