October 5, 2005

SADESMO National Media & Publicity Officer, Christian Ntuli has lambasted the government's failure to address the most critical issues facing the country that have great impact on education. Ntuli blamed government for its "denial syndrome" on major issues like HIV/AIDS, poverty, unemployment, crime, corruption and other social injustices.

"HIV/AIDS has a great impact on our education. President Thabo Mbeki and Manto Tshabalala-Msimango's blind eye towards this pandemic is a great insult of black administration towards black electorates. Nobody thought that such a tragedy would happen in our country under a black government", Mr Ntuli said.

"Among the research findings surveying public education by the University of Cape Town's Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing, it has been found that school enrolments had declined between 1995 and 2000. Among the reasons for this poor enrolment of grade one pupils is that it was found there is a rising infant mortality rate, as HIV-positive children do not live to see their first year at school. Even this fact can't convince the stubborn and irresponsible government's stance on HIV/Aids," Ntuli said.

"HIV/Aids is a great pandemic facing our nation. This pandemic is even greater than the acts of terrorism, far greater than the curse of apartheid."

It is predicted that 500 000 secondary learners are now living with HIV/Aids and will not live beyond the age of 30. Many learners do not complete their high school education because of HIV/Aids, pregnancy, poverty and drug abuse. The high unemployment rate also plays a major role in this disaster. People are failing to finance their children's education because of high educational fees. Education is now more expensive than it was 10 years ago.

"Year by year the number of people losing their jobs keeps on increasing. This leads to student drop-outs at tertiary institutions. It is not surprising that in 2003/2004 only 26 840 or 22% of 120 000 students enrolled in 2000 had graduated by the end of their third or fourth years of study. 60 000 or 50% had dropped out and 33 160 were still completing their studies. Students attend lectures with empty stomachs and that leads to poor performances."

"Despite this hardships experienced by students, there are 60 000 South Africans with degrees who are unemployed and looking for jobs. But the ruling Party keeps on denying the fact that people are now poorer than they were 10 years ago. This is a call for action. Major crisis demands a major change! New revolution is needed if we are to escape these cruel and terror acts of our government," said Mr Ntuli, who is the Chairperson of SADESMO' s biggest branch, the University of Zululand.

"Government spends a lot of money on education but results are disastrous. In the 2005/2006 budget R82 billion was allocated to education. 14% of this amount is spent on higher education, providing R8, 6 billion of this amount in subsidies. This sometimes tends to be a waste as most tertiary institutions are run by incapable deployed members of the ruling Party. Registration fees at tertiary institutions increases yearly but no serious programs are designed to fight HIV/Aids! By this I am highlighting the lack of vision to those are in power," Chris Ntuli concluded.

Contact Christian Ntuli: 072 562 0395