- Created on Thursday, 25 October 2012 11:03
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By the time you read this, some of you will be days away from one of the first steps in your life towards adulthood. You are about to sit for your end of year exams, some of you are sitting for your final matric exams. You are about to embark on a journey that will open doors to what the world has to offer.
I know 2012 has not been an easy year for you. I also understand that you may feel I, Minister of Basic Education have let you down. I apologise unreservedly for all you have been through as a learner. What happened is unacceptable and as you read this I am working hard, day and night, to ensure no learner ever has to go through this experience again.
I know you must be feeling anxious, like you are carrying the hopes of your family and your parents on your shoulders. Fret not, this is only about you. It is about you and your dreams for your future. South Africa is bursting with opportunities for you to study further, in many fields. We’ve made strides in science and technology, sent our own Satellite into space and are hosting the world’s largest telescope project. We will continue to work hard to create an environment that will support your needs for your life beyond matric.
Matric is a culmination of three years of learning, having begun in grade 10. This is important for you to understand because you need not panic and find yourself staying up all night, drinking energy drinks just so you can cram as much as possible. Pace yourselves. Structure your study time and take breaks in between. Use the study groups from your school and community. Seek help from your classmates, friends or peers. Whatever you do, do not panic, do not fear.
I have heard that some have written you off because it is their view that you are not willing to be the best you can be. They call themselves thought leaders; with others masquerading as “activists”; all bent on telling you what is wrong with you. One of them even wrote recently that you are not willing to stand up and grab opportunities. Do not to pay them even a second’s attention. Despite what they, a handful of cynics say, we care about you. I care about you and I know you want the best in life. Despite the naysayers’ predictions, you have the potential to become only what your dreams can be. All you need is to focus, work hard and persevere.
This particular time reminds me of the time when I was a student myself. Things were extremely difficult then but we persevered and pushed forward against all odds. Personally, I faced many challenges and at times wanted to give up. Sometimes it all seemed hopeless, especially when I was faced with failure. I am glad to tell you, dear child, that it was during that time that I learnt the most important lessons. If you fall, in any situation, use that time to reflect on the cause of the setback first and then consider the best action. Be willing to listen, be teachable, even when facing adversity. It is during these times that you learn the most valuable and life changing lessons. You are not alone. I repeat; you are not alone.
It may all seem like a make or break situation but do not give into the temptation and resort to desperate measures. The pressure is not necessary. If you fail, try again. If you do not succeed this year, there is next year. Do not allow a setback to determine the rest of your future. Stand up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and do not give up.
Be aware of the many post-matric education opportunities out there. Maybe your strength is not the traditional system of learning. For this we have many institutions that cater for such needs. Information about these institutions is available at schools and everywhere else. The beauty about our country and the world in general these days is that there are more avenues now that you can take advantage of as you make your way to the next phase of your life. There are many options, all that’s needed is for you to grab them with both hands and run. The future is yours.
As you begin writing know that we are fully behind you no matter what the outcome. You are important to this government. You are our most important priority, because in the words of Nelson Mandela, “There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.” For my part as the Minister Education in realising a better future for you, I pledge to always put you first.