Chairperson, as the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa stipulates:
Everyone has the right -
a) to a basic education, including adult basic education; and
b) to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible.
This is premised on the Freedom Charter adopted at the real Congress of the People in Kliptown on 26 June 1955, and I quote:
The doors of learning and culture shall be opened! ... Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children. Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit ...
This is evident when you look at the Minister of Finance's Budget, in which the education budget takes the biggest slice.
The ANC, at its 52nd national conference of 2007, was influenced by these historic commitments when it resolved to prioritise education in its endeavour to enhance its vision of people's education for people's power. This then influenced the ANC and the ANC-led government to specifically focus on basic education, further education and training, FET, and higher education, so that no stone is left unturned. The ANC 2009 election manifesto, the January 8 Statement and the state of the nation address took these commitments further by detailing specific policy shifts and specific programmes to be addressed in education in order to take forward the people's aspirations as already mentioned above.
The President of South Africa, for example, has already met the school managers with the aim of kick-starting the management capacity. The review of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, will ensure that more learners from the poorest of the poor get access to FET and institutions of higher education. Mostly it will help the 2,4 million children or youth who are not at school or unemployed. To ensure quality learning, the communities have been mobilised to take charge of the education of their children so that they will be lifted out of poverty.
With the ten-point plan there are clear and defined roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder. On the expansion of no-fee schools, this is in line with the opening of the doors of learning to all, particularly to the poor and to Africans. On the increasing of access to FET and higher education, this will ensure that the majority of African children get skills that will build the economy and the critical and scarce skills that our country needs. On the re-opening of the colleges, this is in line with the realisation that the ANC-led government is serious about turning around the education of African children and addressing the legacy of apartheid by ensuring that learners get quality education and a lot more.
Allow me to indicate issues that were raised in Limpopo, specifically on higher education, when we were taking Parliament to the people. The people want to see the role of the private sector, especially mining houses, in supporting local children in furthering their studies. Second, they want to see the upgrading of C N Phatudi FET College in order to absorb children in the Sekhukhune area. Third, they need assistance with registration fees for deserving poor children at institutions of higher education, including FET colleges. At the beginning of the year we always see students protesting because they want to get access or they want to be registered. Lastly, they also want assistance with the children who have completed their studies but are listed at credit bureaus due to their study debt. Consequently, they are unable to get employment or open any accounts.
To the hon Plaatjie, the ten-point plan of the department of Education is aimed at turning around the so-called dysfunctional schools. I'll invite you for a workshop and take you through what it entails. [Laughter.] Hon Ministers, the ANC supports Budget Votes 14 and 16. I thank you.