Addressing about 300 delegates who attended the policy council of Youth In Action in Durban on Sunday, she said decolonising education is more than just changing content in the curriculum.
It was about a new way of thinking and doing things and must start with the decolonisation of the mind, she said. For this to happen, black people first had to overcome their inferiority complex.
“A lot of people still have that complex, just as women have that complex. We can never reach our full potential if we still have that complex.”
Dlamini Zuma said it would also mean teachers would have to be trained in a new fashion, one which is decolonised. Decolonising education could only be achieved when adequate infrastructure was provided to schools. “Infrastructure is very important because it gives you dignity. If you have a nice school, you feel good about it and you learn better.”
Dlamini Zuma urged young people to put education first and delay things like having children until after they have completed their studies.
“You can finish your education and still have ample time to have children.”
The former AU Commission chairperson also spoke of the role technology could play in addressing some of the problems in education.
Technology could serve as an extension of the “physical” space at universities, she said.
“Through technology you can also have the best maths teachers assisting and teaching in other schools. Technology is important but we need to have broadband everywhere. We must also demand broadband.”
Dlamini Zuma said skills development was another issue that needed to be focused on. “You cannot modernise a country if the people do not have skills. We cannot use the ocean as an economic space if we do not have skills.”
She said education could serve as an “equaliser” in society. “When we are both engineers, it does not matter that I come from a poor background.”
Dlamini Zuma said inequality in South Africa was the reason why radical socio-economic transformation was needed.
She said the majority of the population being excluded from the economy was unsustainable.
“We are not saying that those who are in the economy must get out, we are saying South Africa belongs to all who live in it.”