Last night, President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his second State of the Nation Address (SONA). This was under the theme ‘Following Up On Our Commitments: Making Your Future Work Better’.
The importance of education and skills development, one of the national priorities was outlined and discussed at the SONA.
President Ramaphosa mentioned, the implementation of two years of compulsory Early Childhood Development for all children before they enter Grade One. Together with this, efforts will be made to improve reading and comprehension in the first two years of school.
Ramaphosa spoke about plans to expand the availability of reading resources and the provision of digital workbooks on tablet devices across the foundation phase of schooling.
We hope to see this attentiveness to advance early education of children succeed, as it will then result in a positive change in schooling, starting from the initial stages moving upwards.
The President highlighted the government’s fulfilment of its commitment to provide access to higher education to the poor by stating, “last year we introduced free higher education for qualifying first-year students”.
This has to an extent been established within institutions, but not without hiccups. Due to the nature of the scheme, it will take five years before we see undergraduate students who qualify in terms of the criteria benefit.
Despite the focus on strengthening early childhood education. We would have liked to hear more about what government plans to do about the state of school infrastructure and the crisis of overcrowding.
Last year, President Ramaphosa mentioned that the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative will “complete all outstanding projects by the end of the next financial year”. However, this promise was broken and many projects remain unfinished.
Which of the promises made in this year’s SONA will be kept, remains to be seen.
The President concluded the SONA with a call to all South Africans to embrace the spirit of citizen activism, by helping the country reach its goals.