Address by President Nelson Mandela at the opening of the Dalindyebo Senior Secondary School, Qunu

14 August 1998

Your Excellencies, Honourable Chiefs;
The Community of Qunu;
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I feel honoured and deeply touched to be part of this remarkable event. The opening of this school is a matter that is close to my heart because children and youth education are at the top of the government's list of priorities. We can only make a better life for all South Africans if our young people get the skills and the training that we need to make our economy grow and make our democracy work. That is why our new education policy makes general education compulsory for all children.

We must therefore ensure that all our children have access to decent and formal education. If our education system is to produce the capable, skilled and empowered people who can turn South Africa into the just and prosperous nation of our dreams, we must overcome the years of neglect which left most of our children without proper facilities for their education.

I am therefore proud to officiate at the opening of the Dalindyebo Senior Secondary School. It is well-named after a great leader of the Thembus, King Dalindyebo, who grandson, King Sabatha Dalindyebo, showed himself a true leader of his people by his concern for their education.

Partnership between government, the private sector and communities is critical in the development of our country. No one sector on its own, least of all government, can succeed in ensuring that we do improve the quality of life of our people. BP South Africa - and the local BP dealers in Umtata who have also contributed - have set a shining example of such partnership. I thank them for having responded to my request to help renovate the school. The funds spent to renovate and build boarding facilities for the Dalindyebo school are an investment in the community of Qunu and in the South African nation as whole. You should know that this school forms part of BP's larger Social Investment Projects which include a number of other refurbishment of schools.

You should also know that BP is not alone in our private sector, in joining hands with government and communities. Across our land there are clinics and schools which communities now have thanks to such projects. This is part of the investment back into our communities, especially those which are poor, which is needed to eradicate the legacy of apartheid and build the future of our country. It is also an inspiring demonstration of what reconciliation must mean in practice, and it gives one great hope for the future.

Amongst the steps government has taken to upgrade our education system, the Culture of Learning, Teaching and Services campaign is one of the most important. I urge teachers and learners to commit themselves to education and to ensure discipline in schools.

You must make your schools work for you. Parents and communities must participate in the education of their children through school governing bodies. Our traditional leaders also have a role to play. Such a partnership will help eradicate the problem of crime and violence in schools. It will help turn our children into the engineers and scientists, the teachers and lawyers, and the skilled worker and business leader our country needs.

Once again, I thank BP for having done such a good job in helping to give Qunu a school it can be proud of. I also congratulate the school governing body, the principal and the entire school, as well as the Qunu community on their upgraded school. Please cherish and treasure it, because it belongs to you. Make good use of it. We expect to have leaders of tomorrow out of this school.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I now declare the Dalindyebo Senior Secondary School officially open.

I thank you all.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website