Youth Month has come and gone, but what remains is the legacy that it brings. Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe reminds us of the importance of education for our youth.
The Future Belongs to the Educated & the Empowered
Youth Day often conjures up the iconic image of Hector Pieterson’s body being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo and Antoinette Sithole. That vivid image captured what was undoubtedly the bravest moment of South Africa’s youth. It is that day that the rising generation proved to be a force for change in a world that presented nothing but confusion, injustice and inequality.
Since then, it has been the primary objective of the country to ensure that the youth has access to a full and fair education. An education that is given to the youth as a right, and not as a luxury or as a consequence of one’s circumstance.
Education then, and education now, remains the foremost vehicle for change. In a world plagued with rising unemployment, poor access to healthcare, political instability, economic turmoil and climate change, education continues to be the only solution to making this world better for generations to come.
It is my belief that one never stops learning, and therefore one never stops growing. I too continue to look for opportunities to further my knowledge and better prepare myself in an ever-changing world. I have always believed that knowledge is the greatest gift one can give to another, having seen first-hand how such a gift can propel and elevate individuals towards a life of fulfilment and success.
I am forever grateful for the prospects my education has brought me, many of which would not have been possible without the education I have, and continue to receive.
The Motsepe Foundation and the African Fashion International (AFI) was built on the basis of fostering education, providing equal access and engendering inclusivism for all. Our vision of giving hope and bringing a bright future to all our people is realised through the Motsepe Foundation’s scholarship programme, through which we provide free education and support to university students across the country. So far we have committed 1000 bursaries for students in the STEM fields, many of whom are sure to go on to self-fulfilling careers and contribute to their family’s and community’s economic prosperity.
At AFI, fueling growth in the local fashion industry through investment in education and innovation is paramount. Through AFI’s Fastrack™ development programme, we encourage young designers to embrace the challenges that they face, and prepare them for future industry barriers, while absorbing the educational opportunities made available to them through our mentorship network. Our Fashion Week internship programme also gives young people an opportunity to gain work experience and exposure to the business of fashion.
These young and brave advocates for equal education during the Soweto Uprising demonstrated a powerful ability to affect change for themselves and the world they lived in. They fought with the knowledge that the future belongs to the educated and the empowered. It is for that reason that Hector Pieterson, and the hundreds of students who fought bravely for their educational rights, will remain forever ingrained in the minds of South Africans.
Forty years after the uprising, it is important that we understand that to hope for a better future is to hope for a life of learning and self-progression. Let us move this country forward towards an educated nation and generation prepared to embrace the challenges that this world may bring.
Here’s to an educated nation.