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Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the occasion of the Presidential Golf Challenge Fundraising Dinner

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Minister of Public Service and Administration, Mr. Senzo Mchunu,
Ministers and Premiers,
Trustees of Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation,
Our Sponsors and Partners,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure indeed to be with you this evening, on this day we have been told is dedicated to matters of the heart! So let me wish those lovebirds amongst us a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Of course, love takes many forms. And of them, the spirit of humanism: of love for one’s fellow man and woman, surely trumps all.

This week we commemorated the release from prison 30 years ago of President Nelson Mandela: our icon and inspiration who once said:

“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.”

Your participation in today’s Presidential Golf Challenge has been a practical expression of your humanism, and of your commitment to such a noble cause, and to being part of making South Africa a better place. For this you have our utmost appreciation.

The Golf Challenge is now in its twentieth year and it is indeed a milestone of which we can be proud, for we all share in this success. It is an honour that we mark this anniversary in the week that we pay tribute to President Mandela and all those whose sacrifices and actions paved the way for the ushering in of the democratic order we enjoy today.

Earlier this week I had the privilege of interacting with a dynamic group of young people in an intergenerational dialogue convened by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).

My engagement with them and with many other young South Africans on a regular basis affirmed once again for me that our young people are our greatest asset. It also affirmed that if they are to realize their full potential our investment in their health, their well-being, and their education must begin in the very early years.

Over the past 26 years our government has lived up to the promise of the Constitution regarding the rights of the child. This is evident not only in the number of children receiving basic education, but also in Early Childhood Education (ECD) which is now compulsory.

ECD assists in preparing our children for basic education so that by the time they exit at Grade 12, we have learners who are ready for the rigor and demands of tertiary education.

I had the pleasure this week of interacting with a powerful Grade 11 learner, Sinoyolo Qumba from Orange Farm this week when she ran a red pen through my State of the Nation address and admonished me for not being stronger on the message of improving the quality of learning and teaching.

As a nation, as a village, our responsibility is to nurture and educate our children – As Madiba said – Education is a powerful weapon to change the world.

Our young people are more than willing to take up the opportunities afforded them – just  look at prodigies like Sim “Tiger “ Tshabala who is here with us. He is the holder of a number of international awards at the tender age of 7 years old.

We have established a firm foundation for a comprehensive Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme that is an integral part of the education system. Last year ECD was extended to over 700 000 children.

This year, we will migrate responsibility for ECD centres from the Department of Social Development to Basic Education, and proceed with the process towards two years of compulsory ECD for all children before they enter Grade 1.

Another critical priority is to substantially improve reading comprehension in the first years of school.  This is essential in equipping children to succeed in education, in work and in life – and it is possibly the single most important factor in overcoming poverty, unemployment and inequality.

The reality is that many of our learners come from impoverished families, which requires that government, business and our social partners join hands in helping these future leaders of our country achieve their dreams.

We welcome all interventions that will assist in uplifting the lives of our communities from all our social partners, as government cannot do it alone.

Last year the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation was the beneficiary of the Presidential Golf Challenge, where over R5,3 million was raised. The funds that were raised were allocated to the work of the Foundation as well as for the construction of ablution facilities across South Africa.

In the early years of its operations, the Foundation committed to spend R100 million over 10 years with our focus primarily on education.

Since then, this Foundation had already contributed over R359 million and in addition, over a billion rand has been leveraged through our partners to support programmes in education, youth development, SMME’s and supporting vulnerable children and women.

When Adopt-a-School was formally established in 2002, it focused on infrastructure development. However we soon recognized that infrastructure alone would not result in quality education without the development of effective leadership and management systems.

That meant more attention on educator skills, curriculum structures, and improved learner well-being and safety.

Today, Adopt-a-School is evolving the model further with the piloting of the Thari programme to address the impact that violence and vulnerability has on children and their learning outcomes.

Thanks to KST, our partnership with Kagiso Trust and First Rand Empowerment Foundation, this has taken the whole School Development model to another level. It is driving institutional and systemic change through a district-based approach in the Free State and in collaboration with the Free State Department of Education.

KST proves that mutual partnership is possible between government, the private sector and non-governmental organisations. I am pleased that together, Adopt-a-School and KST are working in almost 500 schools and have benefited over one million learners.

The funds raised through the Presidential Golf Day have been allocated to special projects on ECD and safe sanitation in partnership with government.  

These projects were identified to address the urgent need to provide safe and hygienic sanitation facilities in our schools. There were a total of four sanitation projects identified, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education’s Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) Initiative. 

Some of the successes include the construction of four fully functional ablution facilities in four schools through the community-based infrastructure model. These schools previously faced the challenge of inappropriate and unsafe ablution facilities.
One of the three waterborne or flushing ablution facilities have been constructed at Mandleni Junior Secondary School located in King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality in the Eastern Cape.

The other two are at Mpucuko Primary School located at Vryheid in KwaZulu-Natal as well as Madikoti Putsoa Primary School in Sandsloot Gamabusela in Limpopo Province.

A Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) ablution facility has also been constructed at Ixopo Junior Secondary School in Zinyosini Village in Eastern Cape. The VIP option was selected due to water challenges in the area.

These projects have created 115 employment opportunities for the surrounding communities, particularly those residing at the vicinity of these schools.

Each of these facilities boosts the following configurations which are 14 ablutions for learners, three ablutions for staff and a paraplegic facility.

Adopt-a-School Foundation applied its community-based infrastructure model on these projects.

The construction of these facilities helped create much needed jobs to both the skilled and unskilled parents around the area. The project managers of Adopt-a-School Foundation play a pivotal role in oversight of the project and ensuring quality is managed and adhered to, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for all their hard work.

Adopt-a-School Foundation also empowers small community businesses through the provision of materials and the recruitment of local plumbers, tillers and electrician.  

The success of Adopt-a-School lies in creating long-term and sustainable educational improvement through the implementation of its holistic Whole School Development (WSD) model that addresses leadership, curriculum, infrastructure and social welfare.

The Foundation will continue to support the delivery of enhanced and conducive teaching and learning environments that can be replicated in other disadvantaged schools in South Africa.

Our vision is to realize a dynamic, transformed and accessible schooling environment that produces capable global citizens to meet the developmental needs of Southern Africa. This can be done, this is being done, through your support.

When I have spoken about the Thuma Mina spirit I have repeatedly stressed that it is not only the greatest deeds that receive the highest acclaim that matter, but the cumulative effect of many positive actions acting in unison.

Just as droplets of water combine to form first a stream and then a mighty river, so are the contributions of you, our donors and supporters. If we each do our part we can improve the fortunes of our country, but most especially the lives of our youngest citizens.

You have said Send Me, and I sent you. Now I am sending you again! So please keep up with your generosity, and keep your wallets open. Realizing the South Africa in which every child receives a fair chance at life will be your greatest reward.

I want to thank all who have walked this 20 year journey with us.

I sincerely thank the Trustees, the Boards, the Executive and the staff of the Foundation and all of its partner entities for your continuous effort to do well.

I want to thank the Minister for the Public Service and Administration Mr. Senzo Mchunu, Deputy Minister Ms. Sindisiwe Chikunga and the PGC Planning  Committee for organizing the Presidential Golf Challenge. It has been a good day out on the green – for some more than others!

To the business community, please accept my profound appreciation for your support to this initiative.  Your generous acts will go a long way towards changing young lives for the better.

If in my term as President of this great country I succeed in extending the concept of social compacting to every sector that plays a role in our national life; if I can succeed in bringing together government, business, labour and civil society partners to work together for the greater good, I will truly have achieved what I set out to do.

I hope you will have a pleasant evening at this our small effort to thank you for the great work you are doing to build The South Africa we Want. 

I thank you.