Opening Remarks by President JG Zuma at the 8th National SADTU Conference

2 October 2014, Birchwood Hotel and Conference center, Boksburg

Leadership of COSATU,
The Acting President of SADTU, Cde Magope Maphila,
General Secretary of SADTU, Cde Mugwena Maluleke,
Comrades Delegates and guests present,

I bring warm greetings from the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress.

It is indeed our singular honor to be afforded this opportunity to address this 8th national congress of SADTU.

A SADTU congress is important because of the critical role of education in the transformation of our country. Through quality education, we will move our country forward. Through education, we will succeed in building a truly non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society.

Your role is also important because education is a site of struggle, and has always been so in our country.

The apartheid government designed education to achieve their own objectives. They utilized it to subjugate the majority while teaching the minority that they were superior to others.

The role of the democratic society is to reverse that damage and use education as an instrument of liberation, to liberate our people and our country from ignorance, poverty, disease, underdevelopment and hopelessness.

Education is an important nation building tool. It is a powerful instrument of inculcating in the young minds of our children, the norms, culture, traditions and values of the new democratic society as we build a new nation.

Our children need to know from a young age that as South Africans, we are a special people.

We were able to demolish one of the most evil systems of governance in human history and created a new peaceful, democratic society, when the world thought this was impossible to achieve.

We worked hard in 20 years as the ANC to build our country, working with our people. We have transformed South Africa from a pariah state to a thriving young democracy.

The ANC government has been able to pull millions of people out of poverty and hunger in a short space of time, working with our people.

There is still a long way to go, but we are a very special people because we have come this far and have achieved so much, in only 20 years of freedom.

That is why it is important for our children to understand their country and its people.

The ANC Mangaung conference resolved that the ANC government should investigate the value of teaching History as a compulsory subject in our schools.

As educators you are well placed to understand the value of this call and details thereof.

We need to raise children to know where South Africa comes from. Our children, black and white, should know and understand the evils of colonialism, apartheid and racism.

Children should know and appreciate the resilience of their people and appreciate the bravery and determination of the heroes and heroines produced by their country in selfless struggle.

They should know the history of the selfless struggle for liberation that delivered freedom and democracy in our country.

They should also be taught about the villains who subjected this country and its people to apartheid colonialism and institutionalized racism.

Most importantly, our children and the youth, black and white, should know that the freedom and democracy they live in today, came through blood, sweat and tears.

In this way they will love their country more and be able to participate in building a prosperous democracy where all enjoy the fruits of freedom and democracy.


We should also prioritise the teaching of indigenous languages in our schools.

Our children should be proud of the 11 languages spoken by the people of this country and should be encouraged to learn and speak as many as possible, in promotion of diversity and understanding of one another`s cultures.


As teachers, the future of the country is thus in your hands. It is up to educators to produce these new South Africans and a new South Africa, from the ashes of our tragic past.

We should always remember that education is a site of struggle, the struggle against poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Through education, we should unlock the potential of the youth to participate effectively in the economic activity of our country in the future.

Our education system should empower our youth to run and manage this modern economy and lead our country to prosperity.

Your role as teachers is critical in the fulfillment of this mission.

Our schools must become centres of excellence which promote hard work and performance amongst our teachers and learners.

In this regard, let me reiterate my call to you to promote effective learning and teaching. The non-negotiables in education remain paramount.

Teachers and learners should be in school, in class, on time learning and teaching for at least seven hours a day.

As we have stated before, education is a societal issue. We cannot expect teachers to promote quality learning and teaching alone.

All stakeholders such as parents, school governing bodies, labour, learner representative structures, community structures and business must work together to promote effective learning and teaching.

This notion of education as a societal matter is finding full expression in the National Education Collaboration Trust that we launched in July last year, of which SADTU is a member.

When I met with Chief Executive Officers of top companies in the country in August this year, I requested the MECs for education to work with the business community in their provinces to support the work of the National Education Collaboration Trust, to replicate what is happening at the national level.

Through the Trust, which brings together stakeholders, including business and labour, we are working together to achieve the education vision set out in the National Development Plan.

Working together we will take quality education to greater heights in our country.


Working with the educators, we have vowed to deal with some of the persistent structural problems in our education system and also restore the dignity of the teaching profession.

The Mangaung conference of the ANC resolved that we should establish a Presidential Commission to review the remuneration and conditions of employment of education and health professionals.

The Commission has been established and is headed by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo.

It has been tasked with looking at the conditions of public servants.


The unity of the alliance is a necessary precondition for the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution.

As you deliberate at this important conference, I urge you to focus on the unity of SADTU. You need to build a united and even stronger SADTU that will continue to support the mission of your organisation, the ANC which has declared education an apex priority for the country.

We should also keep focused on the mission of building and strengthening the ANC so that it can remain focused on leading the country to prosperity.

The ANC enjoys the support of more than 60 percent of the people of this country, a massive popular mandate.

This popular mandate enables us to take forward the mission of building a prosperous society, free of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

We will continue to do the work that the ANC has been doing since 1912, to improve the quality of life of our people, especially the poor and the working class.

I wish you successful deliberations, as you move South Africa forward through quality education.

I thank you.