Unfortunately, the majority of South African youth face major hardships from the very beginning of their educational development.
In 1994, one-third of school-age children were reportedly illiterate and at least 2 million children were reportedly not enrolled in school because of high costs.
And even though school enrollment is no longer an issue, with 97 percent of school-age children currently attending school in South Africa, the low quality of the education has had a crippling effect on young people’s careers, with nearly 71 percent of the population between the ages of 14 and 34 unemployed, according to Aljazeera.
Consequently, Mrs. Obama made sure to re-emphasize the power of education, while using the sacrifices of others to propel oneself forward:
“But I want you to remember this: No one is born a rocket scientist. No one is born as President of the United States or of South Africa. No one is born being smart or successful. You become smart and successful through hard work –- by doing those math problems, writing those papers; by getting things wrong, and then trying and trying again until you finally get them right.
“And if you get discouraged, if you ever think about giving up, I want you to think about those students in Little Rock and Soweto. I want you to think about all the people throughout history who sacrificed so much for all of us.”
The First Lady’s most-recent stop in South Africa is her second country in her Africa tour. On Thursday, the First Lady met with First Lady Mariame Sall of Senegal before visiting an all-girls middle school in Dakar.
This visit is Mrs. Obama’s second time in South Africa. In 2011, she met with 76 women at the top of their fields at the Young African Leaders forum.
Mrs. Obama Tells Students To Stay Focused In South Africa
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