Youngsters get a day with the President

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma took 17 young girls to work with him today as part of the "Take a Girl to Work Day" initiative which aims to give youngsters a taste of the workplace.

The President hosted the girls, from schools in Atteridgeville, GaRankuwa and in the city centre, at the Presidential Guesthouse where the Cabinet Lekgotla is underway.

He told the girls that education was the key to their future and encouraged them to refrain from peer pressure and criminal and sexual activity.

"We believe that by empowering young girls with education, our country will also be in good hands. Set out your future plans now and always refuse to associate with those who do wrong things," he said.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe agreed that the young girls should focus on their current and further education.

Many of the girls asked the president questions about the current economic crisis, crime, opportunities for young people, and the roles of the President and his deputy.

However, 13-year-old Koketso Maake became the centre of attention when she asked the President where the head of the National Planning Commission, Trevor Manuel, was.

"Mr President, where is Trevor Manuel? I have a question for him and I want him to give me his contacts. I am not going to leave this place without meeting him," said Koketso, who is from Marematlou Primary School in Atteridgeville.

President Zuma requested one of the personnel from the Presidency to call Mr Manuel who was attending the lekgotla, explaining that there was a young girl threatening not to leave the Presidential house without seeing him.

The young student told Mr Manuel that she liked the way he spoke on national television, such as when he delivered the Budget Speech. The two shook hands and hugged.

"I've been dreaming about meeting this powerful gentleman, I admire him a lot. He is my role model. I have learnt a lot from him when it comes to speaking to people," Koketso told BuaNews.

Nkamogeleng Modipa, 13, from Lebogang Primary School in GaRankuwa was pleased to meet the man who occupies the highest office in the land. "It is a dream come true," she said.

Her schoolmate Dineo Makokwe, 14, who is in Grade Four said she would take the President's advice and remain focussed on education.

Grade 7 learner from Dimakatso Primary School in Soshanguve, Sihle Banda, said she really enjoyed speaking with the President. "I feel great. I asked the Minister of Science and Technology to build us more laboratories in our schools and I believe this issue will be taken into consideration."

Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor, encouraged the young girls to pursue carriers in science-related fields to generate new products and ideas that will be commercialised as that will also help to grow the country's economy.

The Take a Girl Child to Work Day was introduced by Cell C more than four years ago.

Presently, the initiative is a joint effort of both the private sector and government.