Address by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the celebration of the first year
anniversary of the Progressive Professionals Forum, Gallagher Estate, Midrand,
04 September 2014

Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande
President of the Progressive Professionals Forum, Mr Jimmy Manyi and leadership,
Vice-Chancellors and other representatives from various tertiary institutions,
Members of the PPF and guests present,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good day to you all.
Just over a year ago we gathered to launch this path-breaking forum whose aim is to
bring together like-minded professionals to encourage, foster and nurture progressive
thinking in the country.
This was and remains a welcome initiative because of the ethos that underpins
progressive thinking.
At the launch of this initiative, I made a point about the need to harness all efforts aimed
at building a prosperous South Africa.
We congratulate you on work done already to build the Progressive Professionals
It shows a lot of skill, commitment and dedication to have come to this point of
celebrating the first year of this formation.
We are encouraged that as professionals and intellectuals in our country, you have
decided to travel a path of wanting to contribute to building our beautiful country instead
of watching from the sidelines.

Professionals and the intelligentsia are a critical reservoir of knowledge in any society.
You are also a good barometer of the progress we are making in the advancement of
our country.
It is for this reason that in 2009, we set very high targets for socio-economic
advancement and also especially for education in our country.
We undertook to consciously produce more professionals in various fields.
For example, in 2011, we undertook to produce by 2014, more than 50 000 engineers,
more than 50 000 animal and human health graduates and more than 40 000 teacher
We are fully aware that our target of producing more than 40 000 teachers by this year
2014, is still not sufficient to meet the future demand for teachers, particularly at the
Foundation Phase.
Without good teachers, our targets of boosting the level of education and skills
development in the country will fall flat.
I am therefore mobilizing you as professionals to partner with us in promoting teacher
development and empowerment as well as in supporting education in every part of the
At the higher education level, we also set high targets in 2011 which we are still working
to meet. We committed ourselves to increase the numbers of honours graduates to
more than 75 000, masters graduates to more than 17 000, and doctoral graduates to
more than 5000 by 2014.
The challenge in meeting these targets fully, is that the production of these skills is
threatened by an ageing lecturing workforce at higher education institutions.

One fifth of academics will retire within a decade, and many of these are professors.
This means that most experienced academics will be leaving higher education. We are
also concerned that limited numbers of younger researchers are entering the field.

The country needs to produce more researchers and more young lecturers during this

The focus of government, through the Department of Higher Education, is to grow the
number of graduates from black communities and attract them into academic careers.
We need to make academia exciting for our youth.

We know that we are competing with more exciting careers for our youth such as
information and communications technologies, broadcasting, or business.

We will need your support to promote academia to ensure that this country produces
more progressive intellectuals to move the country forward to prosperity.

We believe that the establishment of new universities will contribute to producing more
academics to help us move the country forward. We made history in establishing two
brand new universities, namely, Sol T Plaatje University in the Northern Cape and the
University of Mpumalanga with a campus opened in Nelspruit.

Work is also advanced to establish the new science university here in Gauteng.
Ladies and Gentlemen
In addition to expanding universities, we are also paying particular focus on the
Technical and Vocational Education Training colleges to promote them as centres of
critical skills that our economy so desperately need.
We launched the Decade of the Artisan Campaign early this year. We appeal to you as
professionals holding powerful positions in many institutions to support us by opening
up your companies and institutions to learnerships for these young people or to assist
us in campaigns to promote learnerships and internships.

We urge you to familiarize yourselves with the Youth Employment Accord and
contribute to its implementation by promoting youth development and youth
employment in our country.
Together we should move South Africa forward.
The last time we met I said our country had achieved a lot in a few years of freedom.
Let me reiterate this. We thank all of you for contributing to the country’s success as we
mark 20 years of freedom.
We can count progress in consolidating democracy. There is also progress in the
improvement of the quality of life.
One of the yardsticks we use to check the level of development in our country is to track
the growth of the middle class in the country, especially the black middle class.
Many different approaches have been adopted to define the middle-class.
In a 2008 report, Stats SA used household services data from various surveys to
describe the middle-class household.
A household with a middle-class standard of living was defined as one which resides in
formal housing, and which has access to the following services: a water tap and flush
toilet within the residence, electricity as the main source of lighting, electricity or gas as
the main source for cooking, and a landline telephone or cell phone.
The report estimates that in 1996, 19% of all households in South Africa with a middle-
class standard of living were black African. In 2006, this figure had increased to 41%.
That is visible progress indeed.
Population census data provides additional information on education.


During Census 1996, only five thousand five hundred and sixty nine (5 569) black
African individuals aged 20 and above were recorded as having an honours degree as
their highest level of education, compared to thirty one thousand one hundred and
eighty seven (31 187) white individuals.
In 2011, the number of black Africans aged 20 and above with an honours degree had
increased to one hundred and twenty three six hundred and seven (123 607) compared
to one hundred and twenty seven two hundred and seven (127 207) whites.
The interest of our youth in education is remarkable indeed. It augurs well for the future.
Black Africans with a masters or doctorate degree increased from seven thousand three
hundred and ninety five (7 395) individuals in 1996 compared to seventy thousand six
hundred an ninety two (70 692) individuals in 2011.
Between 1994 and 2014 there has also been significant gains in black African
employment within the workforce.
In 1994, 63% of the employed workforce consisted of black African workers, which is
5,6 million individuals out of a total of 8,9 million. This has increased to 73% in 2014
which is 10 million out of 15 million working people.
When broken down by occupational levels, the data show an increased black African
presence within skilled occupations. In 1994, 46% of managerial, professional and
technical workers were black African, which was 846 thousand individuals out of a total
of 1,8 million. This year, 2014, this has increased to 52% which is 1,9 million out of 3,8
million individuals.
This indicates an improved quality of life each year and an improvement in the living
standards of our people. There is no doubt that in 20 years of freedom, we have a
really, really good story to tell!
I must emphasise how pleased I am that education is the theme of our conference.

Education is the most effective instrument that we can use as a ladder out of poverty for
many of our young people. It thus remains the apex priority for the ANC and our
We urge you to make it your apex priority as well, as progressive professionals.
Higher education on its own is a powerful tool of emancipating our people.
It is also powerful tool that will enable us to produce progressive intellectuals to
participate in the battle of ideas and the ideological struggle that will move our country
I trust that in your deliberations you will find time to reflect on the role that universities
must play to create and produce full and complete human beings, as opposed to just
potential workers?
We must do everything possible to ensure that our universities never become what
Antonio Gramsci described as “incubators of little monsters aridly trained for a job, with
no general ideas, no general culture, no intellectual stimulation, but only with an
infallible eye and a firm hand”.
Graduates must emerge from universities as complete humans who have full
appreciation of the history of our country, its present and its future.
Students must emerge from universities as patriotic citizens willing to participate both in
the conceptualization and implementation of our progressive programme to transform
This must not be seen as an attempt at indoctrination or a threat to institutional
autonomy, but rather as an intervention that reinforces academic freedom.
Academic freedom must be understood as allowing all views and different ideological
strands to find expression without favour or prejudice.

Universities will not be universities if they are one sided and produce only conformists
and apologists who are bent on the retention of the status quo, especially economically
and socially.
In other words, academic freedom must mean the freedom of universities from the
ideological stranglehold of any social class, religion, ethnic group and race.
We therefore need to reflect with regards to what extent our universities now reflect the
changes that our country has been undergoing since 1994.
It is the responsibility of organizations such as yours to keep universities constantly
engaged on social issues that can move our country forward. Our institutions should not
become institutions that exist merely to legitimize opinions of one group over the other.
Ladies and gentlemen
Allow me to wish you, the Progressive Professionals Forum, a happy one year
Your existence is important for the expansion of the marketplace of ideas to build our
We wish you nothing but success in all your endeavours.
I thank you.
Issued by The Presidency

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