Saturday, February 23, 2013

Community Awards Dinner Speech

“We don’t need no education!” This is one of the defiant phrases from Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall. Ironically, education in South Africa is itself a collapsing wall. With a few educational institutes to harvest our demographic dividends, and minimal seats leading to spiralling cut-offs, South Africa’s educational report cards show big black stars.
Many teachers are appointed, not by their qualifications, but by who they know. This simply reveals how bleak this board has become. We need teachers, and good ones, not ones that fail a Teacher's Eligibility Test!
To add to this, we need schools! A smart government would urgently push thousands of rands for fresh schools, but this is not so. Schools are battling to sustain, facing new cut-offs; many might be forced to shut their doors, and for those who survive another day, the provision of real education is becoming increasingly difficult.
A survey found that learning levels are at an all-time low. Over 50% of grade five learners are unable to do simple maths or read grade two-level text. With education so squeezed, the sight of parents and aspirants, hurried from kindergarten to post-graduate, has become disturbingly routine. Often even 100% do not always make the university grade. Maybe, this is why Delhi University has begun awarding 102% as an admission requirement.
Lack of education is the main cause of this present situation. The foundation of every country is the education of its youth because education begins a gentleman, and conversation completes him. In a country embedded with past memories, next in importance to freedom and justice is education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained. This, we are witnessing every day. By education, an empty and mischievous mind can be replenished by an open one. In the words of Mark Twain, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education”.
Tonight, I take the stand that the teachers deserve all the credit – teachers who educated the children deserve more honour than the parents who merely gave birth to them; for to bare life is finished by one, but the other ensures a good life.
Tonight is a sign of good will from the members of the Gayathri Peedam South Africa. Good will is such a simple concept that its effectiveness in building relationships and in mediating situations of conflict can be overlooked. It is Gayathri Peedam’s universal energy with an expression of Love In Action. Certainly, it is the central tenet of all the great faith traditions, and we are all aware that economics derived from greed and selfishness, doesn't take love into account, and is profoundly damaging to all people.
During this time of crisis, which is affecting the nation and every citizen, Gayathri Peedam focuses on many new and creative ways to apply its good will in all fields of human endeavour. This leads to inspection on how others can work with good will in their areas of concern. It only requires one person to stand for good and take action in order to stimulate other activity and become a rallying point for others.
To students receiving awards tonight, I urge you to continue in your good work; respect your parents, elders, and teachers. As children, we know how to dream and we’re not afraid to dream big. As children, we didn’t dream about desk jobs, we dreamt about becoming astronauts! We believed that everything is possible.
Wishing you all every success for your future dreams.