Speech For The MQA CEO - Mr Sam Seepei

Saturday, September 7, 2013




Programme Director;

The Honourable Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr Mduduzi Manana;

The Honourable Premier of the North West, Ms Thandi Modise

The MEC of the Province;

The Executive Mayor, Ms Pinkie Moloi;

NUM General Secretary, Mr Frans Baleni;

Members of the MQA Board;

Representatives from government departments;

Management and representatives from our associated mining houses;

Trade union representatives;

Our employers in the province;

Education and skills development providers;

Media representatives;

Our MQA Management and Staff;

Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

All protocol observed.

It is an honour and a  privilege  to  be  here with you  to celebrate International Literacy Day, which  the National Union of Mineworkers and the Mining Qualification Authority celebrate together every year. The value of  education in a person’s life can never be under estimated and this is what our learners will show us today. The day is a celebration of the progress made by our Adult Education and Training learners and the successes they have achieved which have changed various areas of their lives. The MQA  and the  NUM  are grateful to the mining companies  in the area  who have continued to be our partners in this fight against illiteracy.

This  year  ladies  and  gentleman,  we  host  this  event  against  a  background  that  has  resulted  in  a changed  landscape  in  our  sector.  I  would  like  to  quote  Robert  Kennedy  when  he  said  and  I  quote “Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.”

Many of our achievements today as a country and as a sector were the result of change, positive and not so positive in some cases.    Although the incidences that took place at  Marikana have dented us somewhat,  we  look  at  the  future  of  the  sector  with  greater  insight  that  will  ensure  increased engagement,  compromise  and  educational  success.  We  are  confident that  the  Farlum  Commission will reach conclusion to ensure that tensions emanating from the occurrences lead to a more peaceful and united sector.

Colleagues,  our sector has achieved many  successes  in spite challenges that some sectors do not encounter.  At  the  most  recent  Mining  Lekgotla  that  was  held  in  Sandton  a  week  or  two  ago,  the Government  reassured the sector of its  commitment to addressing the challenges facing the mining sector  at  the  moment.  We  are  required  to  speed  up  skills  development  to  ensure  capacity  in  the sector.  This  illiteracy  alleviation  partnership  has  contributed  immensely  to  individuals  lives  in  the sector  as  they  acquire  much  needed  skills.  We  have  witnessed  old  and  young    in  Port  Elizabeth, Palaborwa,  Carletonville,  Welkom,  the  Highveld  Region  at  Emalahleni  last  year,  share  their  life changing experiences as a result of ABET. It is an honour for me to be at Matlosana in the North West today as I am sure we will leave motivated and encouraged to do more.

The North West is one of the  provinces where the MQA has launched a regional office, This office is situated at Mankwe Orbit College in Rustenburg, in  an effort to get closer to our people and provide a service  so  that  one  does  not  need  to  commute  to  Johannesburg  to  enquire  about  skills.  The  FET college partnership aims to also contribute to turning the  tide in our literacy efforts.  North West is one of  the  regions  that    possess  an  abundance  of  minerals  which  form  the  backbone  of  South  Africa’s wealth. We  have  gold  and  uranium  in  Klersksdorp,  platinum  in  Rustenburg,  and  diamond  mined  in Lichtenburg. All these areas are what make the North West province the jewel of South Africa.

Allow  me  to  take  up  this  opportunity  to  pay  tribute  to  our  previous  ILD  hosts,  from  Port  Elizabeth, Palaborwa,  Carletonville, Welkom and the Highveld  Region at Emalahleni last year,  who have paved the way  for  turning the International Literacy Day event into  the  annually anticipated event  that it is. We  look  forward  to  other  partnerships  among  our  stakeholders  as  these  build  on  our  goals  of ensuring education for all.

Partnerships are aimed at strengthening our sector. As they say,  many hands make light work so we need to continuously aim to strengthen our partnerships as the MQA.  Looking at the partnerships we have formed with various Universities and FET Colleges, it is important for both mining companies and the Department of  Higher Education and Training to speak the same language to alleviate the status  of  our  FET  colleges.    Universities  being perceived  as  “better”  creates  a  challenge for  young people  when  deciding  on  their  career  paths,  resulting  in  learners  that  do  not  get  admitted  into university rather staying at home than enrolling at an FET College.  Our joint effort of working together to  elevate  our  FET  college  status  to  learners  that  are  more  technically  inclined,  so  that  they  can choose an FET  college  as an option,  will go a long way to improving our shortage of artisans.  Our country and our sector needs  artisans.    We are trying to build a nation but we cannot build a nation where differing career choices are undermined.

On our journey to improving literacy  levels,  we have observed much progress,  however, we still have some way to go especially,  when we look at the gender figures of those taking part in Adult Education and Training. More men undergo literacy training than women. It has been reported that the number of women undergoing AET increased from 2, 36 million to 2, 737 million in 2001. This is a worrying trend. The  face  of  mining  is  changing  ladies  and  gentleman,  and  we  have  seen  this  from  the  career exhibitions where young ladies are expressing a real wish  to take up mining engineering  and other technical careers.. We have visited mining companies where women are working as rigger ropesmen, diesel mechanics and electricians. In this regard we need to ensure that as we continue to motivate our fathers and brothers to take up the baton of education we also rally our mothers and sisters to take up the same challenge.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a Chinese proverb that says “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”. This is evident today as we are all here to celebrate the achievement of AET learners who have dedicated their time to acquire knowledge and gain wisdom. These learners have set an example  which confirms that it is never too late to achieve what you  have  planned to achieve. Furthermore,  I believe that  our  young generation can learn from  the examples that they have set for us. Everyone of us sitting here today, needs  to be a pioneer of  their   individual  dreams, because  that is where it all starts.

Ladies and Gentleman, I thank you for the opportunity of addressing you today.