Education is power!

Cosas has let the ANCYL know that before we start demanding jobs, we should acquire the necessary skills

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Recently, a friend reminded me of the famous remark by the great American inventor, Thomas Edison: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

It is a quote worth repeating to my younger brothers and sisters who are beginning to write their matriculation finals.

I can only hope that this year there will be an improvement in our matric pass rates, especially as there have been few disruptions in comparison with previous years. The teachers’ unions have done well not to disturb the learners’ programme.

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Talking of which, I have to give the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) a pat on the back for refusing to be bullied by the ANCYL into what I and many others would call a seriously misguided action. This is a so-called “rolling mass action” at the peak of the final exams.

Apparently, Malema’s own issues with education have made him forget what a crucial time this is for students. Besides which, who needs education to make millions and build a house with bunkers? So – hats off to Cosas for telling the ANCYL that education comes first.

Why would anyone want young learners to demand jobs if they don’t get the skills first? Isn’t this what has produced the mess with incompetent public servants? So many government departments are dysfunctional because party loyalty rather than skills landed people jobs.

So it was right for Cosas to tell the ANCYL that before we start demanding jobs, we should help deal with the country’s lack of skills. I hope to see many of the youngsters who are working hard to pass matric grab the opportunities that are available and make a difference.

Needless to say, I would also like to see many young people enter the agriculture sector, either in primary production or elsewhere in the extensive value chain. Many young people view this sector as boring or unglamorous, but it’s one of the most important. As the City of Tshwane mayor commented a couple of weeks ago, agriculture is central to the lifeblood of every sector of the economy.

Not only that – it has up to four times the employment creation capacity than any other sector. Many of today’s matriculants will be presented with job opportunities after leaving school. Several of these opportunities will be in overalls, and not suits and ties, and many youngsters will therefore miss them.

Agriculture unfortunately requires overalls and hard work, but the rewards are worth it.