The Guard

The Truth On Board

FS unemployment rate a concern

By Emily Setona

BLOEMFONTEIN – The alarming number of matric dropouts that shrouds the matric pass rate and contributes to the high rate of youth unemployment in the Free State came under the spotlight when different parties debated the premier’s State of the Province Address (SOPA).

Addressing the provincial legislature in Bloemfontein on March 05, the DA’s Mariette Pittaway questioned why premier Mxolisi Dukwana didn’t mention the fact that despite having the highest matric pass rate nationally the Free State also had the highest high school dropout rate nationally.

“Yes, the Free State once again had the highest matric pass rate nationally and we are all proud, but why was the premier not concerned or didn’t even address the fact that the Free State also had the highest school dropout rate nationally.

“Is mentioning the 26 856 learners that dropped out between grade 10 and 12 not worth a mention or concern? Why is the ruling party not acknowledging this tragedy or how it will be addressed?

“Most of these nearly 27 000 young people will now be added to the youth unemployment statistics which as a matter of interest is also the highest in the Free State nationally,” Pittaway pointed out.
These sentiments were echoed by Armand Cloete of the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) who called for urgent action to be taken to address the challenge.

“Let’s not sugarcoat the Free State, there is something wrong with a province where government officials can hold a state function and just a few metres away the people from the nearby community are asking for the guest tags to gain entry to the function so that they can go and get food to eat.

“Four out of 10 South Africans are unemployed; they have either stopped looking for work or they simply cannot find work at all, our people need jobs.”
On the other hand, education MEC Makalo Mohale said at the base or centre of a functional economy is quality education, and the premier at the SOPA mentioned that.

“We are reimagining a new Free State that will not only be at the centre geographically, but government needs to make sure that the Free State takes its rightful place as the food basket of the country. If you look at what the province of the Free State is doing, we are conscientiously now in the process to increase the current seventeen agricultural schools, which we have increased post-democratic dispensation.

FS education MEC Makalo Mohale.

“In the past there were only a few agricultural schools which were dominated by whites. We have Seotlong as one of our flagship agricultural schools which demonstrates the commitment of the Free State government to ensure that indeed the Free State will be a breadbasket one day.

“This is not a wish but something that is embedded in our education system because we said that we are a government that seeks to ensure that people are able to be capacitated and skilled enough to fend for themselves so that they are not dependent on grants and all other government assistances,” Mohale said.

Mohale went on to say that during the SOPA, the premier stated that it is very important to build a province that is resilient that skills the young people and everyone in general to take a meaningful participation in the economy.

“The journey or programme of bettering the lives of the population of the Free State economically is based largely on ensuring that the government massifies the skills that are given to the people.”