Political Leaders, Speaking of Education (1)

Nelson Mandela, the first president of post-apartheid South Africa, speaks of the centrality of education in re-creating the nation.

New education is central to the success of a whole range of … human endeavours. Our own reconstruction and development effort, the renaissance of the entire continent and our successful interaction in the global village, depend largely on the progress we make in educating our populations.

In South Africa the challenges are as stark as they are real … The majority of our children, especially in rural provinces, still either do not have access to basic education or depend on institutions that lack the teaching media and equipment needed for effective learning and teaching …

The power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. It can contribute to nation-building and reconciliation. Our previous system emphasised the physical and other differences of South Africans with devastating effects. We are steadily but surely introducing education that enables our children to exploit their similarities and common goals, while appreciating the strength in their diversity.


Mandela, Nelson. 1997. “Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the Education Africa, Presidential and Premier Education Awards, Pretoria, 22 November 1997.” South African Government Information.


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