New scholarship fund launched

Friday, March 14, 2014

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma says the launch of the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund further demonstrates government’s commitment to invest in education and freeing young people from economic oppression.

President Zuma said the R20-million scholarship fund, a partnership between the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and the Department of Higher Education, was aimed at assisting excelling leaners from disadvantaged areas wishing to further their studies at an institution of higher learning.

The launch of the Fund comes days after ANC Stalwart Martha Mahlangu, mother of the late Umkhonto we Sizwe cadre Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, passed away in hospital. She passed away on Wednesday.

“As we celebrate 20 years of freedom and democracy this year, we commit ourselves to ensuring that young people in South Africa would live a better life than we did during our time, during the era of apartheid colonialism where education was used as an instrument of subjugation.

“This occasion today, proves that the democratic government views education as an instrument of freedom and development.

“We want access to quality education to be one of the tangible fruits of freedom for our youth,” he said on Friday.

President Zuma said the fund was named after Mahlangu, who was executed under apartheid laws, at the age of 23, after he was wrongfully accused of murder and terrorism, to honour his contribution to the struggle for freedom.

“When he went defiantly to the gallows in 1979 at the tender age of 23, he left these powerful words.

“He said: ‘My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight’.

“Today, his blood is nourishing the tree of education and progress, the fruits of freedom,” he said.

The launch of the fund comes after the NYDA hosted the Presidential Youth Indaba on Youth Jobs and Skills, in Boksburg, a week ago, to track the progress made in implementing the Youth Employment Accord, which was signed in April last year by youth leaders, business, labour, government and the community sector.

President Zuma said the core business of the NYDA had changed to focus on education and skills development based on studies that revealed that most young people in the country actually derive their income from salaries and remittances instead of entrepreneurship.

“The studies further indicate that the level of education and the quality of that education promotes the chances of employment for the youth.

“Therefore, the NYDA’s new intensive focus on education and skills development is in line with the developmental needs of young people.”

He said the decision to launch the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund was also in-line with the NYDA’s new strategic focus.

Amongst the first beneficiaries of the fund are some students who previously failed matric, but achieved top marks the second time around after taking an opportunity to enrol for the NYDA’s National Senior Certificate Matric Rewrite Programme.

“To date, more than eight thousand young people have been assisted to rewrite their matric.

“It is good that we have among us some of the graduates of the rewrite programme who are now beneficiaries of the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund,” he said.

He said the Fund augments the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), and added that government was committed to investing in education and training as this was the key to giving young people economic emancipation.

“The youth is our future. We will continue to invest in our country’s future through investing in education and training. We are investing in skills development so that we can produce the skills necessary to grow the country’s economy and create jobs,” President Zuma said. – SAnews.gov.za

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