“We now live in a constitutional democracy, with a Constitution that enshrines the rights of all, regardless of race, colour or creed,” he said.
President Zuma was speaking on Thursday in Soweto during the 40th anniversary of 16 June 1976, which is commemorated as Youth Day.
On this day, hundreds of young people protested against the apartheid government and their imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.
It was on this day that hundreds of young people lost their lives in the struggle for liberation, which started a revolt that spread to other parts of the country, crafting today’s South Africa that is democratic, non-racist, non-sexist and belonging to all who live in it.
Addressing thousands of young people at Orlando Stadium, President Zuma said South Africa is today a country where government has systematic programmes of providing basic services that improve the quality of life to its people.
“Millions of people now have access to water, electricity, housing, hospital care, quality education and other services which has led to an improvement in the quality of life,” President Zuma said.
He said government is aware that some people are still waiting for these services given the backlogs but South Africa is a much better place than it was in 1976.
“Each year we build new schools and refurbish others to improve the learning environment. Government has built 795 schools since 2009 at a cost of R23 billion.
“Government built 78 new libraries in addition to the 304 libraries that have been upgraded. At least 80 percent of South Africa’s public schools are now no-fee schools and nine million children are exempted from paying school fees in an effort to improve access to education.
“Nine million children also receive free meals at school, as hunger must not prevent children from poor households from performing at their optimal level in school,” President Zuma said.
Government is also building three new universities and 12 technical education colleges to expand access to higher education.
Additionally, government is also investing more in information and communication technologies in education.
“The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding for training at vocational training colleges, known as TVET colleges, has increased from R318 million in 2010 to R2.3 billion in 2016.
“This is aimed at promoting technical education and providing more electricians, welders, plumbers and other artisans for the economy. But the struggle continues. We will never rest until we achieve a more equal and prosperous society, a society without poverty and unemployment,” President Zuma said.