Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” He could not have been more correct. The constitution gives us many human rights, but the most important one to me is the right to education. If you are educated, you have the power to understand and demand all the rights the constitution gives you.

If people are educated, they will be able to understand issues. If South Africans were educated, we would not have the xenophobia we have today. People would understand why there were people from other countries in their country. Instead of complaining about foreigners taking their jobs, they would use their education to compete for jobs. There are many job opportunities in South Africa, but there are very few people who are qualified for those opportunities.

Education enables you to contribute to the upliftment of your community and society at large. With an education, you can design and implement programmes that can assist those of your community who are less fortunate. The scientific and technological advances we see every day are possible because of education. The problems of unemployment, HIV/AIDS, and global warming will be solved by applying our educational skills. For an example, there are people who are trying to build electric cars with a view to saving our planet.

I cherish the right to education because it was hard-fought. Lives were lost in 1976 in a battle to secure the right to education. Those people did not die because they did not want to go to school, but they died because they wanted quality education. Today, I learn in a language that I understand. That increases opportunities for success. By going to school and learning, I am honouring the spirit of those who opened the doors of education for me.

Freedom gives you wings to fly. It opens up opportunities for one to realise one’s potential. George Washington was right to say that education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom. Nelson Mandela gave us this freedom, and with it came the right to education. It is our responsibility to exercise this right, not only for the betterment of ourselves, but also for the betterment of our communities. Government must make sure that there are enough schools with laboratories and libraries for children to learn. Equally, learners must not be forced to learn on empty stomachs or pay school fees when they cannot afford them.