What is Wrong With Education?

 

I wanted to tell you how I achieved a personal milestone.

My thoughts on this went all the way back to my high school years, remembering those few, dedicated teachers who each made a valuable contribution towards igniting my passion for literature and books. There are also those who saw no value in achieving this. They are a reflection of all that is wrong with my country’s educational systems and lack of outcomes today.

They lack the desire, diligence and skills to teach the children they are entrusted with, only collecting the monthly pay cheque. If this is not forthcoming they go on strike, leaving children to their own devices. South Africa’s government under Jacob Zuma, who has no education, recently chose to blame racism and apartheid for the lack of delivery towards the country’s youth who in spite of spurious affirmative action policies to help them still cannot find meaningful work. The spectre of racism reared its ugly head spectacularly among the country’s youth who never experienced the grim realities of oppression under apartheid. The youth have been empowered with the freedom to choose their destinies, but this freedom appears to benefit only the middle and higher classes in South Africa. The racial conflicts affect all groups. Instead of leading from the front to rid us all of unfair prejudice and discrimination, Zuma’s government blames apartheid to shield their incompetence and lack of political will.This is tragic and disgraceful, because the country has the resources to deliver a good education to most of its children in spite of race, colour, class or creed.

The Western Cape government fairs little better. They blame Zuma rather than explain their own lack of delivery and the drop in the number of students passing the matriculation exam. Instead of using the resources provided to them by the national government, they close schools. The explanations that they’ve given to date  mirror good works of fiction. Their city council counterparts puff with pride in obsessively declaring that the City of Cape Town is the best run in the country. Mandatory audits declare that they are clean as a whistle, free of corruption, maladministration and incompetence. But they cannot and will not provide free transport to the students and their older peers who head out each day to seek work, usually on foot. Instead they demolish well-structured houses to make way for their elaborate transport networks. Children travelling long distances to school each day are often late for class. Much like the teachers, the contracted bus drivers are rude and abusive. And if they don’t get their way, they go on strike too.

student violence courtney africa

PICTURE BY COURTNEY AFRICA

Today, some teachers reward their unlearned pupils with a pass on condition that the children return sexual favours.

Recently, the Cape Times propagated across its front page alleged incidents of racism on the campus of one of the city’s universities. Unnamed sources in the report were not credible and no counter arguments were given fair and equitable comment. The paper manufactured racist clashes between ‘black’ and ‘white’ students, for once portraying the minority group as the victims. A small group of students chose to disrupt campus business and prevent other students from attending classes. The anarchists claimed that they were denied the opportunity to register for another year of study mainly because they had not paid their previous year’s tuition fees. Sadly, this is standard practice at most functioning universities across the globe. Tertiary education is expensive. The students’ plight, in spite of their violent behaviour, is understandable. But the newspaper’s behaviour during the course of its reporting is unacceptable. Disguising their agenda’s as “transformation”, the paper is a true reflection of a lack of proper education.

The students who attacked their campus and the newspaper that published their actions should have reflected on the true causes of being denied access to a proper education. Through selective ignorance they chose not to bang on the door of the government’s minister of “higher education” and call on him for comment on why he cannot and will not dispense billions in available funds to needy students. After all, not only are these funds available, but both Blade Nzimande and Zuma promised this delivery just before the country’s last general elections. Promises not kept and the lack of delivery is a problem not unique to my beloved city.

I wondered why these students did not make use of their ‘free’ time visiting the city’s free libraries acquiring knowledge and other resources so long. Perhaps they are not interested in reading or working towards a qualification? Or perhaps they burnt down their local library?

I wanted to tell you about those who helped me get an education. And, no, the government, past or present, did not help me. I will return to this positive story another day.

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