Get back to the basics


One of the surest signs that South Africa is failing its children is the latest rankings of our education system on a global survey as 140th out of 144 countries.

Even Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland beat us to it. Shamefully, Yemen, Haiti and Burundi are our soulmates in topping the charts of mediocrity.

Let’s take Haiti for example, with its population of 9,7-million.
According to World Bank statistics, 78% Haitians are classified poor and over 66% of the labour force is not in the formal economy.

Burundi, with a similar head count, is almost in the same league, with 66.9% classified poor. The life expectancy rate is 49,4 years and it has a predominantly youthful population at over 50%.

As a country with extraordinary wealth and resources, South Africa should not be in the same league as these countries Why is government reversing even the gains the apartheid government had made in black education prior to 1994?

Some serious soul-searching is needed if we are to revolutionise our education system.

Perhaps we should start by replacing the outdated discourse of the “national democratic revolution” with a discourse promoting a revolution in education!

This transformation needs to start with the elected officials, the civil servants, the unions, the governing bodies, the principals and the teachers.

If 5 000 out of 25 000 schools can do well, why can these teaching methodologies and management systems not be transferred to the weaker schools?

It is not as though we are starting from scratch.

Some of our schools function well and achieve world class standards, yet government refuses to learn from them and replicate their methodologies across the board.

Equally, many teachers do not belong in our schools, yet they are protected by our equally delinquent unions.

Performance management and ongoing training are no longer the sine qua non of the profession. Mediocrity gets rewarded and education unions are as complicit in keeping South Africa’s education standards low as are incompetent teachers.

They foster a culture of entitlement, laziness, delinquency and a lack of accountability among teachers, whose politics rather than commitment to the development of the child has become primary.

Hiring and firing are littered with labour regime obstacles and professionalism and accreditation are no longer key requisites of the profession. Teaching should be elevated to the stature it once had and should compete with some of the highest acknowledged professions.

A good start would be  abandon the asinine notions of “educators and learners” and a reversion to the original notion of teaching, as originating from the Latin docere, meaning to instruct, teach and tutor.

It implies that the person who does the instruction is trained to do so. Narrow definitions of teaching need to be replaced with holistic notions of educating the whole child.

Unless we depart from the straitjacket of teaching for the sake of teaching we shall never draw out the potential that resides in all our children.

The ANC government has abrogated its responsibility towards the education of the black child.

Consumed by  destructive internal politics, the ANC  have taken their eye off the ball. In the meantime, white South Africans, rightly, continue to educate their children in the best ways possible.


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