General

Playing catch up in the classroom

The link between poverty and education is an old story. Education has always been used as a means to an end and as is the case in South Africa, the end is for education to be a tool to get people out of the poverty trap. To illustrate the poverty trap: if a child comes…

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Where do we go from here?

When the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) recently published its most comprehensive and most drastic report on climate change to date, the president of the United States, Mr Barack Obama, called it a “call to action”. It remains to be seen if the leader of the biggest economy on the planet will live up…

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Floating schools and how access to technology broadens access to education

Until I read about Mosammet Reba Khatun from Bangladesh, I had never heard about solar-powered floating schools. Mosammet teaches in a remote river basin where access to schools is very difficult, especially during the monsoon season. The boat is an interesting model for making education accessible in poor communities because the boat picks the learners…

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‘There is something inhuman about stealing from the poor’

Theft is a debilitating thing, whether it is petty theft or “grand larceny”; whether it is theft during a burglary, as we recently experienced, or the kind of GRAND theft perpetrated by politicians who have access to public money, or corporations that do so via dubious legislation, which allows them to pay minimal corporate taxes…

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Psychonauts: Blasting off into mindspace

“I didn’t know if it was my birth I was re-experiencing; or my death, which was yet to come. This is the actual core of where all of reality is emanating from. This is where meaning comes from. Symbols were pouring out, they were intertwined, every symbol and letter in every language was pouring out…

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A queer understanding of community?

By Matthew Clayton* & Thorne Godinho** It should come as no surprise that South Africa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community is stratified along similar race and class lines as the rest of South African society. The big umbrella that is the LGBTI term actually falls short of being big enough to cover white…

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What do good grades mean?

“I find it difficult to answer why the Netherlands is doing so well because what do grades mean? To which countries do you compare?” These are the words of a young teacher, Cees, from the Netherlands. The question he poses is an important one for understanding the complexities in global education. Education is measured according…

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I love Paris in the springtime…

How many people still know that song, I wonder. Or the one where Dean Martin sings “Oh, what I’d give for a moment or two, under the bridges of Paris with you … ” The point is that Paris is, and has been for a long time, one of — if not THE — most…

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The powerful politics of love

South Africans have woken up each morning for the past month to the intimate politics of love (and loss) on their television screens and newspapers pages. The death of Reeva Steenkamp and the ongoing trial has placed questions of love and how we love at the centre of the social consciousness. Although unrelated from the…

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Biology is not destiny

South African men’s lives have changed remarkably little over the last few centuries — according to the bulk of my undergraduate students. Such an understanding seems common knowledge in the communities from which most of my students are drawn. Since time immemorial, the dominant narrative goes, South African men have “always” been breadwinning heads of…

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