There were tears of joy and gratitude when the Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula accompanied by various stakeholders visited Siviwe School of Skills in Gugulethu to inspect the construction work being done by the South African Navy.
The initiative, which is called a legacy project, forms part of the Department of Defence’s social upliftment programme and seeks to refurbish and rebuild schools in disadvantaged communities.
The SA Navy have so far painted all the classrooms at the school, installed air-conditioning systems, built cabinets and fixed blocked toilets.
They are currently in the first stages of building a soccer field and planting a garden.
The department said it would spend an estimated R300 000 in total.
Ms Mapisa-Nqakula said what the department had done for the school was not a favour but it was bringing what was due to them.
She said their action was intended to uplift and change the lives of black children. She said what they had done for the school was not to gain cheap political points but it was about bringing services.
Ms Mapisa-Nqakula said the South African National Defence Force had a mandate to make a difference in the lives of South Africans especially in the education sector.
She believes that each child has the right to receive quality education and be given the necessary tools for learning.
Ms Mapisa-Nqakula said such programmes were important as they enabled the soldiers to play their active role in community upliftment.
She said through this programme they showed the community that the role of soldiers was not only to fight and defend the country but also that they were kind and caring.
Ms Mapisa-Nqakula told the pupils that they should never feel ashamed they were studying at a special skills school. She said they should be proud of who they were and let each and every skill they possessed be a shining light in their lives.
“The fact that you are here, means you are a special child. Every child is a gift from God. Through this programme I want to see the betterment of our children’s lives. Education is the number one priority. I wish we could do more. I want to see our children learning in the same standard as other schools in posh suburbs. We are here to deliver what we promised as the government to you. I want to bring hope to these children through this programme,” she said.
The minister made an appeal to the children to not get pregnant at a young age and instead focus on their studies.
She said she hopes to see each and every one of these children being professionals and academics. She appealed to the community to protect the school property and everything being given to the school.
School principal Yolanda Lupondo could not contain her emotions and expressed her sincere gratitude to the minster and everyone involved in the project. Ms Lupondo said the donation was a big relief and has made the school a conducive place of learning and teaching. She said the pupils would also be proud of their school and that inspires them to excel in their studies.
“I have no words to express my excitement. I will always remain indebted to the Department of Defence for what they had done for us,” she said.
Chief education specialist, Arthur Cowley, said the pupils should use the resources given to learn. He said they should be a shining light in their communities and be the next role models. He urged the pupils to always stay in school and be agents of change in their communities.