Speech delivered by Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi at official opening of National Schools Festival, Grahamstown

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14 Jul 2014

Programme Director

Eastern Cape MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Dr Pemmy Majodina,

Chairman of the Grahamstown Foundation Council, Professor Geoff Antrobus and his fellow Councillors

Executive Director of the Grahamstown Foundation,  Mrs Louisa Clayton

Director of the Grahamstown Foundation’s Scifest Africa project, Ms Anja Fourie,

CEO of the Zenex Foundation and her colleagues, Ms Gail Campbell

CEO of the National Arts Festival, Mr Tony Lankester, and Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival, Mr Ismail Mahomed

Deputy Vice Chancellor of Rhodes University, Dr Peter Clayton

National Director of Assitej, Ms Yvette Hardie

Performer and poet Ms Lebogang Mashile,

All Youth participants in the National Schools Festival


All Educators, Mentors and Chaperons of young people present

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning, Ra lotsha, Molweni, Dumelang, Sanibonani, Ndi matsheloni, Goeie More, Thobela!

It is humbling for me to be invited to this important gathering of the future leaders of our country, and as the youth month theme stated, I am among ‘history makers and the legends of the future’.

I am equally excited to see so many young people gathered here from all corners of our culturally diverse country, to be part of this celebration.
This event is indeed a celebration of our arts, culture heritage, reaffirming that as a nation we are united in our diversity.

I wish to recognise the Grahamstown Foundation, whose role and responsibility is the maintenance and purpose of this Monument, on the 40th Anniversary since the opening of the doors of this facility with the National Arts Festival as its purpose.

Last week I was here to engage and interact with various groups of members of our arts sector, attending the National Arts Festival. Among these groups were young arts practitioners, who inspired me with their passion for what they do – participating in the arts and showcasing their creative abilities.

The National Schools Festival is equally, a follow-on and very important link to my interactions with these practitioners. It is not dislocated from what we spoke about. It is about promoting a sense of creative arts community development, it is not only about developing young people of our country, but it relates to the well-being of our humanity, because arts, culture and heritage are about provision of quality of life for the citizens our country.  

I urge the young artists to use this five day gathering to:

  • expand your horizons - the arts have no limitations
  • be curious - there is no stupid question, this way you will learn
  • grow your career – meet a fellow- arts stranger & ask, interact
  • enjoy – visit exhibitions, be part of the end-of-the-Festival party crowd

On this important occasion, we wish to congratulate the organisers and its sponsors for their achievement of being able to offer young people such a platform. To us this platform is important as it offers young people of our country to use their creative abilities in support of ongoing efforts to build social cohesion, promote nation-building and it is about social inclusiveness.

The National Schools Festival supports the work we do as a department promotion of access to the arts – the arts for all - by unleashing the creative capabilities of our young people and also encouraging mass participation of youth in the creative endeavors, thus addressing negative forces that lead to inappropriate use of their leisure time.

Today is indeed an achievement. The 2014 National Schools Festival’s achievement indicates that:  working together as various stakeholders, we can move youth development of arts, culture and heritage in our country.
We are still a young and youthful country, which was born 20 years ago. I wish to use this opportunity to indicate that most of contributions that our government is making this year, are rooted on celebrating our 20 Years of Freedom & Democracy.  We have programmes that mark this achievement through to April 2015!

The South African creative and cultural industries, particularly music, design, craft, television, film and the heritage sector have been growing steadily since the dawn of our democracy.

The growth happened amidst an ever expanding global technological advancement in the area of the internet, mobile telephones (smart phones) as well as the social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Skype, MXIT, WhatsApp, Twitter and others. Access to these technological platforms in the media and entertainment space by ordinary citizens, especially among our young citizens, has also created impetus to growth of the arts sector.

Through these media, for example, one can put together his/her song and upload on i-Tunes or YouTube it for everyone everywhere with access, to enjoy. Simply put, the new media has done away with the complications of publishing one’s creativity.

Whilst the media has created these opportunities, parents and Educators should still play a vigilant role of protecting the young ones from falling into traps of unscrupulous cyber criminals, disguised as do-good agents. 

Educators should be watchful also that these developments. These developments should not undermine a very critical process of a long and winding skills and educational journey that is associated with mastery of any art form.

The Arts serve a critical role in the advancement of young people’s education, creativity, and intellectual development. A well-rounded education that includes arts education is extremely important in public schools and communities. It helps learners and students to think creatively and critically, and builds their self-confidence.

When students leave the classroom, they use their understanding of dance, music, theatre, literature, design, film and visual arts to communicate in new ways, to build intellectual capital, to express themselves within and across cultures and mediums. The arts also add a new dimension of thinking to social and scientists, in keeping with Albert Einstein’s assertion that “the greatest scientists are artists as well.”

The Department sees the National Schools Festival an important opportunity to encourage parents, educators and learners themselves, to have arts, culture and heritage as a career of choice, a dignified career and an important career that contributes to the economy of our country. The arts as you will see do create jobs and employment and it is no longer a ‘nice to have’ in the development of our country. It is very important. 

To this end we offer a range of bursaries for young people to continue studying the arts after matriculation or Grade 12:

  • The National Arts Council offers arts and culture bursary at tertiary education institutions in the country, such as University of Johannesburg, Wits, Rhodes, Fort Hare and UCT. There are post-graduate International bursaries available as well.
  • The National Film & Video Foundation offers film and video bursary for film and video studies at many of the Arts & Film schools – AFDA, Big Fish, post-matric tertiary institutions with Film Schools
  • The National Heritage Council offers bursaries for Heritage studies as well. Heritage is part of our history and aesthetics. The bursary recognizes heritage being part and parcel of arts & culture. Bursaries are made available at post-matric tertiary education institutions.
  • The Department of Arts & Culture also award bursaries to students to study at accredited and registered  post-matric tertiary education institutions in the areas of Heritage (Conservation, Archaeology, Restoration) and  Language Practitioners’ bursary for studies in language areas such a Translation, Language development and Human Language Technology
  • Provincial Arts & Culture Councils also award bursaries to students to study at accredited and registered  post-matric tertiary education institutions
  • We also work of the National Youth Development Agency, which is our vehicle for advancing the interests of young people in our country.

Through our strategy, Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE), we undertook to place the arts and the creative sector at the centre of economic development and job creation in the country. Through the MGE, our Department is making a commitment to create at least 150 000 jobs in the creative and cultural sector by 2016, thereby contribute substantially towards the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country as well as the National Development Plan (NDP). The National Schools Festival supports MGE workstream on Basic Education on ‘resourcing of schools’ with arts, culture and heritage, as learners, students and educators will be given ‘career guidance’ during the event.

We will also look at possibilities of working together with the organizers of National Schools Festival in the near future. This will ensure that we get more participation of learners and even getting bigger audiences in, to attend the Festival.

We trust that the National Schools Festival will instill in our young participants the values that we as South Africans hold dearly; the values of inclusivity, love, mutual respect, caring, discipline, reconciliation and most of all the values of ubuntu.

To our participants we say: let these be the values that guide you in your own personal lives.

Let these values lay the foundation for you to love and value yourself better as well as harness your true potential for the betterment of our country.

I wish you success in your participation at this 2014 National Schools Festival. Works hard and Have Fun at the same time!

It is now my pleasure to declare the 2014 National Schools Festival officially open.

Ro livhuwa! Thank you.


Enquiries: Peter Mbelengwa

                 082 611 8197 / petermb@dac.gov.za