Matriculants from various Manenberg high schools, including Phoenix, Silverstream and Manenberg, were excited when they received identity documents (IDs) as part of the Department of Home Affairs Good Citizenship programme, on Wednesday April 25.
The hand-out took place during a career expo hosted by the department in partnership with the Manenberg People’s Centre, at Phoenix High School. Various college and university representatives offered pupils advice on different career choices.
English teacher at Phoenix, George Lodewyk, said IDs reaffirmed one’s sense of dignity, human rights and strengthened identity. “It makes you feel that you belong,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Fatima Chohan, said the department planned to visit more schools, and reach out to more youth across the country.
She said there were few opportunities for people of colour under apartheid, something that deprived them of a good education. “I never experienced a good education. I didn’t have a maths teacher when I wrote my matric exams, and my English teacher was my physical education teacher, so he didn’t know much about English. My Afrikaans teacher was always absent. I couldn’t go to any college or place of higher education that I wanted to,” she said.
Ms Chohan said she “felt out of place” when she attended the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, because of the colour of her skin. She told pupils that because of democracy the youth of today had less challenges.“Grab opportunities with both hands and work hard. Use this (expo) to your advantage and ask questions and go and do the things that you are great at,” she said.
Ms Chohan labelled education as a key to opening doors to a brighter future. “If you have made a success of your life and worked hard and maintained your self-respect and respect for others you have altered your life and the lives of the generations after you. You want to look back and be proud of yourself and know that you have paved the way for future generations. You want people to say good things about you,” she said.
Ms Chohan encouraged pupils to plough back into the community and bring positive change to the area. “We want each of you to be proudly South African. Change your thinking and be a citizen of your word. Read a lot and broaden your mind,” she said.
Faldiela de Vries, co-ordinator of Manenberg People’s Centre, said the Good Citizenship programme aimed to encourage the community to give back. “Bring about the change that you want to see in Manenberg. Strive to be one of the top three pupils at your school. I am challenging you to compete to be one of those pupils,” she said.