SA has just commemorated the sacrifices made by the youth of the country, especially Sowetans, in the fight for liberation and freedom during the Soweto uprisings of June 16 1976. The projected objectives of that catastrophe are still to be realised.

Not much has been achieved since many school kids died for equal access to education and a refusal to be taught in Afrikaans - the language of the apartheid system which treated blacks as sub-humans.

Education plays a pivotal role towards socioeconomic growth, productivity, creativity and social cohesion. In a country with high unemployment and economic inequalities, education must be the cornerstone that holds pieces together. However, the aspirations of the youths of 1976 still linger on 36 years later - and 18 years into a democratic dispensation with a black leadership at the helm of the country's governance.

Socioeconomic gaps have widened and access to good education is a luxury reserved for the rich. Education, more especially in public schools, has become a political tool for lazy and inept politicians ready to (ab)use it as a bargaining chip.

Children in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape provinces have become sacrificial lambs for callous and snobbish politicians. Their indifference towards these children's education and future is overwhelming.

In the Eastern Cape pupils attend classes in dilapidated mud huts while kneeling or squatting on a dusty floor to take notes, and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says there is no crisis. In Limpopo open spaces with signs posted on trees are called classrooms and the children go for half of the academic year without books - yet Ms Motshekga thinks a court case forcing her department to do its job is sensationalisation.

Over the weekend I perused the performance rate of schools in my region, and it reveals a worrying statistic: an average of 80% of pupils from grade 8-12 failed their first term.

I jogged past Tshehlo High School, which used to be the envy of every child growing up in the region of Ga-Chuene, but now almost all the windows are broken. My alma mater, Leshikishiki Senior Secondary School - where some of us spent most of our time fetching water from nearby rivers to have additional blocks built - is a skeleton of its former self.

Does the minister truly believe that she is preparing these kids to compete fairly and equally at an international level in a few years ? Her actions are worse than Bantu education.

How do we expect our children to learn, grow, be nourished and get intellectually stimulated when education resources are diverted towards the wellbeing of officials and their family members?

The youth are being failed by this inept system and soon they will grow tired of useless promises from arrogant officials. And I will certainly join them in the revolution. Steve Biko, Tsietsi Mashinini, Khotso Seatlholo and others must be turning in their graves knowing that their struggle for liberation was in vain, truly in vain.

Phillimon Mnisi

Johannesburg