Koketso Moeti
Koketso Moeti

The other side of the education crisis…

Education has taken centre stage recently. Rightfully so, it’s a powerful tool in breaking not only the cycle of poverty but many other negative cycles. There’s no doubt there’s a huge crisis.

Many scream “undelivered textbooks”, “striking teachers” and “political interference” as the crux but it’s much deeper than that. There’s very little said about the content and quality of the curriculum at both basic and tertiary education. Like the media, education can influence the way people think. So it’s essential we ask what kind of citizens we want to develop when coming up with plans to fix the system.

Another often unspoken contributing factor is that education has become devalued. For many students school is about “finishing so I can get a job with a good salary”. This attitude is reinforced regularly. I have often heard parents coax their children to school by saying “if you don’t finish school, you’ll never get a job” and also “if you don’t finish school you’ll end up being so and so’s tea girl or gardener”. As well-intentioned as this may be, it creates students who don’t value and appreciate learning but rather see it as a one-way ticket to riches. Beyond that, it kills curiosity. Students need to apply their minds and go beyond what they’re taught. The message they get is what they learn is enough to “secure them a better future” so why go beyond that. What we’re then left with is unfulfilled potential. We create citizens only able to repeat what they’re told rather than apply their minds and learning in a way that could benefit the nation.

Our teachers are often criticised. If we intend to solve this problem we need to understand that they are increasingly dealing with situations they’re not trained to handle. Pupils attempt abortions on school premises. Some go into labour while in class. Grieving learners and even abused ones are but a few examples of what some teachers regularly have to deal with. Teacher training needs to evolve somewhat to ensure they are equipped with at least the most basic skills required to handle such incidents. Confident, respected and empowered teachers are essential to overcoming this crisis.

The education system, like all other systems, cannot be fixed by a single individual or body. It needs all of us to actively participate. It needs communities who know the social ills prevalent to offer teachers the support they need. Even something as seemingly small as making the teacher aware that a pupil is having certain difficulties at home may make a difference. We need people to go to the schools in their areas at the beginning of the school year and make sure the textbooks arrive timeously. Fixing our education system also entails that teachers, lecturers and parents not produce professional consumers but citizens that seek to meaningfully apply their learning and knowledge.

So apart from the work done to fix school infrastructure and ensure textbooks arrive on time, we all have something to contribute. Let’s put some meaning into all those tweets, posts and endless complaints by taking action to solve it.

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  • 41 Responses to “The other side of the education crisis…”

    1. Mr. Direct #

      @Author

      I like the fact that you take ownership of the problem, even though it is not your duty. This kind of thinking can inspire an entire generation. Keep it up!

      My only concern is that not everybody is going to agree on the way the crisis should be resolved. Personally, I would be able to give a few suggestions, but I am no expert in the field, and therefore need to rely on the expertise of others to apply the right solutions in the right places at the right time.

      I would be willing to apply pressure on these experts, but how to do this? With limited/no access to government ministers, or senior management at the Education departments, how do the general citizenry push the decision makers to do something?

      Other than violent protests, what can be done? Anyone have any ideas?

      November 21, 2012 at 11:59 am
    2. A well balanced article that brings some sanity to the hysteria created by the usual suspects – the DA and their sidekicks organizations together with mainstream media.

      Just as they constantly point to government corruption as the sole reason of our racial socioeconomic disparity, they also deflect attention from our unequal education system by fabricating hysteria about late textbooks, OBE, bad teachers, bad students etc. etc. ! Meanwhile, they’ve raised the costs of attending private schools and universities and had the gall to proclaim Afrikaans an African language, to slow down the integration of our schools and tertiary institutions.

      Sadly, even some university graduates can’t find jobs makes some intelligent school kids somewhat skeptical of the use of an education in uplifting their economic condition.

      Our private sector economy (where the majority of jobs are created) is still largely controlled by the 1% and not much will change anytime soon unless we make some radical changes e.g. land reform, nationalization etc, to unlock the wealth still trapped in the grip of apartheid’s beneficiaries.

      So as long as they can scapegoat government and focus mainstream media on senseless distractions, they can continue to enjoy the fruits of apartheid!

      November 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm
    3. Jens Bierbrauer #

      I like the writer’s thoughts. Encouraging curiosity is essential. That starts in our homes and communities. It means not answering a child’s “why” with “because full stop”. If you don’t know the answers to a child’s questions, shouldn’t you find out? What sort of adult is proud of ignorance and passes that on?

      Dave, there are multiple sites of blame in this education crisis. Aren’t you curious about the government’s role?

      November 21, 2012 at 6:33 pm
    4. This is really for Mr Direct and to a point, Koketso Moeti – there are political parties out there, old and new, who I am sure would be interested in your ideas and concerns. We are a constitutional democracy and that democracy functions through a party political system, so get involved at that level. You might find the newer smaller parties more responsive, less hidebound by their own commitments to policy & etc.

      Then you can also get involved at a micro level. I like the idea that children should be communicated with to understand their needs and problems before they end up in labour in the classroom or such-like. I would favour every school having at least one resident psychologist. Why not set up a counseling service at your local high or primary school – with approval of course – approach the schools, see what they say. They may welcome the help. They may not. But the only way to find out is to try. Be active, see where it takes you.

      For Dave Harris – when it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck the obvious conclusion is it’s a duck. So why knock the opposition and the media for stating the obvious. They probably have a few valid points that land reform and nationalisation ain’t going to fix but which a functioning education system will fix.

      November 22, 2012 at 8:24 am
    5. Olds #

      “Fixing our education system also entails that teachers, lecturers and parents not produce professional consumers but citizens that seek to meaningfully apply their learning and knowledge.”

      Firstly – teachers, lecturers and parents have very little say over what children learn anymore and children are for the most part produced on the street and taught by their peers by means of cellphone since they became untouchables with the advent of the child jjustice Act (2010)

      Secondly, this forum seems to be a place where people do endless analysis of what went wrong, who is to blame and how they so loathe each others kind and what type of payback is in order.

      We all know what is wrong and how to fix it. Our education problem is not even unique and shared where ever children were given the right not to listen anyone and to learn whatever they want (drugs, sex, crime seems to be the only subjects studied).

      We were all childre once. If left to your own devices and with no fear of repercussiions you would not, say, pick up a Math book and avidly start studying, unless of cousre it was needed to build something that was going to make a lot of noise, annoy some grownup or destroy something.

      Bring back the parents right to dicipline and that would be a good start. Then, cut back the money spent at the top of the Education Dept and spend it at the bottom on teachers, schools and eqt. If parents these days pay for most of those things, what is the education budget spent…

      November 22, 2012 at 9:28 am
    6. This issue requires an innovative policy approach. READ: Policy Forecast: Education and Social Cohesion in SA, 2012 to 2022 (8mb) http://wp.me/p2LXv0-y

      November 22, 2012 at 10:02 am
    7. Oldfox #

      Koketso,
      I agree with everything you wrote, except for the point about what the parents say will happen if one does not finish school. Parents and teachers have used that argument for perhaps two generations now. When I was at school in the mid 1960s, we were told we’d become ‘dustmen’ (guys who empty garbage bins into a truck) if we did not finish school. In those days, only a tiny minority from our ‘community’ became doctors or wealthy business persons. So we did not see education as a “one way ticket to riches”, not at all.
      One South African teacher who emigrted to the UK, told his pupils about the dustmen story, whereupon one pupil indignantly replied: ” there is nothing wrong with being a dustman, my father is one”.

      November 22, 2012 at 10:07 am
    8. Lindie Koorts #

      A very good article and I couldn’t agree more. There is an enormous difference between education and training. Education is built on curiosity, it stimulates and it enriches – and that is what we want for everyone inside and outside the system, including our teachers! It is also a very valid point with regards to the issues teachers face on a daily basis. In a country such as ours, a degree in education ought to be combined with a degree in social work, since our teachers are truly on the front line, and in one of the best positions to make a difference in young people’s lives.

      November 22, 2012 at 10:11 am
    9. Oldfox #

      South Africa would have a good educational system (for the 20% of pupils who get a reasonable education) if we were living in the 19th century. We DON’T have an adequate system for the early 21st century. The number of compulsory matric subjects is far too few, it’s 13 or so subjects in Spanish & Portuguese speaking countries, and 16 subjects in some East European countries. In Germany it’s 10 subjects up to and including the equivalent (roughly) of our Grade 10. In SA, three languages should be compulsory at school. All Swiss children speak at least the 3 main languages of Switzerland.

      At school pupils should all learn something of economics, accounting, basic business principles, contracts & contract law, to name a few. Pupils should also learn some of the ‘soft’ skills, communications, conflict resolution etc.

      November 22, 2012 at 10:22 am
    10. @Jens Bierbrauer
      “Aren’t you curious about the government’s role?”
      Did you perhaps mean the enormous effort of our government in transforming the evil Bantu Education system and including 80% of our children whose families were deliberately oppressed for centuries, in a mere 18 years?!!

      @johnb
      ” why knock the opposition and the media for stating the obvious”
      Education and wealth are two sides of the same coin in democracies across the world. The DA and its media mafia are determined to prolonged their privileges of the wealthy beneficiaries of apartheid for as long as they can. This is why the DA only pays lip service to education transformation while most beneficiaries of apartheid enjoy the best education money can buy.

      @Olds
      “Our education problem is not even unique”
      You must be living on a different planet from the rest of us! SA’s education inequality is a relic of apartheid that is unique in human history.

      November 22, 2012 at 10:30 am
    11. Momma Cyndi #

      How?
      If the parents don’t have the knowledge, the power or the resources then they can’t help to fix anything. This type of problem doesn’t occur in places where the parents have the ability to help because they don’t allow it. It is the rural areas where the parents have no resources that it happens.

      SA is a crazy parallel universe. One side has the time, knowledge and resources to fight a system when it fails. The other side has no options at all.

      In middle class suburbia, most kids learn to love stories and to be curious from before they even get into the schooling system. We don’t have to go to work before the kid is out of bed and we don’t return after the kid is back in bed. In our side of the universe, we know if our kids have books or if the teacher arrived at school drunk (if at all) and we get up on our back legs and shout / threaten / demand. Don’t ever underestimate the nutritional problems either – a hungry or malnourished child cannot learn. Our world works because we have the power to make it work

      The problem is that those two universes are on a massive collision course. We can’t afford to have two thirds of our children growing up half literate and with 6 babies before they are 30.

      We either have a government or we don’t. We either do everything for ourselves or pay taxes and employ someone to do it. Having it both ways cannot work

      November 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm
    12. Olds #

      @Dave – yes, it seems I do. I live on the one where if you Google “dumbing down” you come up with many links that isn’t justSouth African.

      You might even have something other than a fanatical disgust with the DA to offer if you start researching other topics than “Apartheid in South Africa under the Evil Boers” which btw wasn’t even a century long.

      Why do you dislike the DA so much, did you discover they don’t have a gravy train?

      November 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm
    13. manquat #

      Another problem many face is the huge gap between university and work. More companies need to do more recruitment and try to make their practices as labor-intensive as possible. The gap between school and work needs to close. There are too many useless degrees out there. There are so many degrees that do jack for the learner. For example a BA and soft psychology BCom and management degrees. I think that the incentive of going to college is not worth it in SA. Many successful people in SA don’t have a degree.

      November 23, 2012 at 2:17 am
    14. DeeGee #

      @Harris: “Our private sector economy (where the majority of jobs are created) is still largely controlled by the 1% and not much will change anytime soon unless we make some radical changes e.g. land reform, nationalization etc, to unlock the wealth still trapped in the grip of apartheid’s beneficiaries.”

      I have real issue with this line of thinking. Firstly, a dependency attitude that the private sector must provide. This they will do, but I note you make no mention of entrepreneurship. This I find an insult to the young men and women who are going it alone and forging their own paths. Having said that, I also encounter young guys and gals who have good ideas, but they fade away as they realise the work involved. Better to stay in your comfortable 9-6 job (as it is these days) than go out and do something on your own. The 1% you talk about (assuming it is even correct) will remain the 1% unless people get off their butts and put plans into action. Secondly, nationalisation won’t do a damn thing, other than shift existing means of production from the private sector to the state. No value-add at all. I’m disheartened that you still don’t get this. Thirdly, how does land reform unlock wealth, when urbanisation is still top of people’s priorities? And what about a thorough audit of who ACTUALLY owns the land first. Methinks we may all be a bit surprised by the results.

      But then I fall into the trap again and again. No point in trying to rationalise with an…

      November 23, 2012 at 4:37 am
    15. @DeeGee
      “entrepreneurship” IS part of the private sector, duh! Its shameful that you stereotype a certain section of our population as lazy!

      Nationalization has proven to be the best antidote to the plundering of a country’s natural resources by rapacious multinational.

      Urgent land reform is vital to repair the economic damage of centuries of land theft by whites under colonialism and apartheid.

      November 23, 2012 at 11:30 am
    16. Olds #

      @Manquat – i do not agree with more labour intensive production. More unskilled/semiskilled creates more problems for management which means lower quality at higher cost, this lowers the competitive edge of a company which means the company can no longer compete and close down. This leads to everyone, skiled/unskiled losing their jobs. Rather like trying to fit too many people on a liferaft, it capsizes and everyone dies.

      I do agree with their being way too many useless degrees running around looking for a job. Every field needs many technically skilled diploma workers for every degreed person. Why have so many apprentice shops been closed, especially in government parastatals like Metro Rail? These used to provide the children who could not afford to, or simply did not have the aptitude for university with excellent technical qualifications that was very tradable in the public sector and once completed could always be converted to a degree with further studies at a later stage.

      The biggest problem since the .com bubble is that kids these days do not want to make the effort to acquire quality skills, they want to get rich overnight with an “easy” degree.

      November 23, 2012 at 11:46 am
    17. Reducto #

      @Harris: “fabricating hysteria about late textbooks”

      You will blindly defend anything the ANC does. You are a defender of the indefensible. No reasonable person would find no problem with textbooks delivered as late in the academic year as October. All you can do is make ridiculous, baseless claims against those organisations that went out of their way to fight for the rights of students.

      Not a word of condemnation from Harris that court action was required as late as October to force delivery of books. Where else in the world would a department of education get away with that? Where else in the world would someone like Angie still be in the job?

      November 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm
    18. RubinBanana #

      Rather than waffle about things or respond to trolls like Dave, let me try and be a bit more specific:
      As a retired scientist/businessman I decided to do something positive. So I went and offered my services to a high school that is largely a coloured school.
      I was welcomed with open arms.
      Since I started late in the year (end of August) I took ten (the best) of the Grade 10′s and tried to teach them mathematics.
      On day 1 I gave a simple test to determine how much they already knew. Here are some of the questions and the results I got:

      1. How many cents are there in a Rand?
      Four responded with “10″; one did not even answer.
      2. What is 123.456 x 100?
      One or two got it right. Typical answer was: 12300.456
      3. A car travels at 120kms per hour. How far does it go in 2 1/2 hours?
      No-one had any idea.

      One student got 0 out of 10. The highest mark was 9 out of 10.

      At the end of the term I gave another test, somewhat more difficult. Strangely, the student who got 0 out of 10 got by far the highest mark. She afterwards told me she went home every night and went through what I had taught them. The others apparently did not do that.
      It seems that they are being taught a wide spectrum of things, but end up with a fuzzy knowledge of everything. Nothing is clear in their minds.
      I discussed it with the principal just before finals started, who kindly directed me to the Inspector. That was two weeks ago. I have not heard anything from her.
      What do you clever…

      November 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm
    19. Koketso Moeti

      @Momma Cyndi, if all of us who read this post saw your child walking into a fire and didn’t stop him or her- would you be okay with that? If my child held a knife and started to run, would you leave her to do it knowing full well that she may fall and stab herself? If the answer to these questions is no, then why are you suggesting that those who are able to do something should not ensure that even those with parents who are not able to do anything (according to you, by the way) can get by. It is exactly that mentality that keeps children suffering, because as a society we fail to realise that your child is mine, just as my child is yours and all children are OUR children. The future of SA does not reside in the hands of some of its children- it lies with all our children, so unless we collectively uplift the education system for all kids- the future will remain rather bleak…

      November 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm
    20. Koketso Moeti

      I am loving these discussions, solving the education crisis is essential for us to progress as a nation. But until there’s less blaming and more solving very little will happen. Until we each can meaningfully find ways to contribute to solving it, very little will change, the problems mentioned in the post are but a few of many. Surely each of us can find somewhere where we can contribute, right…?

      November 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm
    21. Oldfox #

      @ RubinBanana,

      Shocking story. Reminds me of a report that stated the majority of teachers in Southern Africa in a survey last year or 2010, thought that if 60 units of something increases to 75 units, the increase is 15%.

      November 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm
    22. DeeGee #

      Harris, which section of the population did I stereotype as lazy? Come on, even by your extremely low standards, that is low… Your argument clearly indicates that the private sector is part of the problem, not the solution, as your original post claims (Our private sector economy (where the majority of jobs are created) is still largely controlled by the 1%), which goes on to your usual rant of beneficiaries of Apartheid. But now you claim that entrepreneurship is the very part of that sector. You understand that small business is the backbone of every economy worldwide. So which one is it Harris – is private sector owned by your fabricated 1 %, or is it a representation of all our economic stakeholders, whatever shape or colour they take?

      Please provide evidence of your claim of “Nationalization has proven to be the best antidote to the plundering of a country’s natural resources by rapacious multinational”. I’d be most interested, as would many others.

      And here I fall into the trap again – rationalising with an irrational person. Silly old me!

      November 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm
    23. Oldfox #

      I was skeptical of the Partners For Progress intiative championed by Louise Van Rhyn. It is about having business leaders partner with school principals, one business leader & one principal partner for one year initially.
      I went to one of her presentations, and left convinced that this is one initiative that will work in SA, at least in urban areas.
      The strength of this approach lies in the fact that a principal can get not only all his staff to contribute more than they do at present, but importantly, to get many/most parents involved. An example was given where this In fact happened at one school.

      Personally, I would like to introduce computer programing and robotics at one or two township schools. I would donate the hardware myself.

      November 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm
    24. Marianne de Leuca #

      @ RubinBanana

      If you haven’t already done so, you may be interested to read Prof Jonathan Jansen’s assessment of the teaching of mathematics in South Africa.

      It is the text of his 2012 Helen Suzman Memorial Lecture:

      “The Mathematics of Democracy”

      http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page71656?oid=342614&sn=Detail&pid=71616

      November 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm
    25. Momma Cyndi #

      Koketso Moeti

      Oh honey, you have so misunderstood my worries around this!

      I am not in a rural village in Limpopo or Eastern Cape or any of the other desperately needy places. There is a limited amount that I can do. Our Department of Education, on the other hand, is in these places (supposedly). You are probably much better acquainted with the awe which an ‘educated’ person receives in rural areas and the reluctance to give offense to them.

      My Mom-in-law was a kindergarten teacher in a very, very rough neighborhood. She would get kids in who didn’t know how to sit on a chair or use a bathroom. Never once did she ‘wash her hands’ of the child or claim that it wasn’t her ‘responsibility’. Either she taught the child right and gave it the love and direction that was missing at home or they would never get that. Now why can’t our Minister at least pretend to wish that she could instill that kind of humanity into our teachers?

      Like the vast majority of mothers, I would walk into that fire to get your child out of it. My argument is that I can’t do that if I am not there to see it. Why can we not expect others to do the same? Teachers are there. Are they not human? Should they not do any stopping? Does our weird duel universe put them into the ‘suburban’ world which then will prevent them from doing anything in the ‘poor’ universe? Why are Model C teachers held to a different standard?

      (Just to clarify, my darling Mom-in-law was a…

      November 23, 2012 at 9:09 pm
    26. Momma Cyndi #

      RubinBanana

      One of my ex employees tried to help a school in Mamelodi. She was told that she didn’t have a teaching degree so she could not even be on school premises but a donation would be welcome – she has a Masters in Chemistry. Go figure.

      November 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm
    27. There are many reasons why our education system is problematic… the most significant of which is that almost no one actually understands that it has been re-engineered to fulfill the requirement for our evolution into a ‘Knowledge based’ economy.

      Considering that the idea that all citizens should have had at least ten years of schooling is an idea that is less than 2 decades old, and that the “learners” [as they are now called] of today have to absorb information at 6 escalating levels of cognisance, which was barely acknowledged in any but the most superior private schools two decades ago, the results are really rather remarkable.

      For instance i have just finished evaluating results in my grade Eight exam paper… the second of two two hour papers on matters economic. My learners are all people who are essentially first generation learners.

      As part of the paper they were required to calculate, compare and evaluate four ratios applied to a Balance Sheet to assess resp’: solvency, liquidity, gearing [ie debt/equity]ratios and net asset values.

      For the exam i selected four balance sheets published last week in the Star’s Business Report, which the Star distributes twice weekly to many schools in our [so-called by the kids] Ghetto quarter of Jozi. The were: Metmar Ltd, Pic n Pay Ltd, Tongaat-Hullet Ltd, and Lewis Group Ltd. I assume all my fellow commentators are familaier with this process. Grade Eights are discovering it. Results follow.

      November 24, 2012 at 7:48 am
    28. Results. Before moving on i should observe that what the kids are doing in my class, is no different to what they are doing all over the country… i do not have time to ‘teach’ [a word we no longer use btw] anything more than is required by the curriculum. I also have been re-traIined in the new system and work as exactly in accordance with its requirements as my aging body, will and spirit determine.

      The most important thing is that the kids have a job to do and their job is to LEARN [verb: note] and mine is to create, as much as is possible, an environment in which they are free to discover the answers for themselves… i may not give them the answers… They must LEARN what they are.

      Of course this is where the system is at a sticky point [often described too by Jonathan Jansen btw]. Eight of the top ten places are invariably taken by girls and the reverse for the bottom ten.

      Back to Grade 8. Their task with the ratios was in order of learning skill to be demonstrated: a knowledge… the contents of each ratio formula. b. Comprehension: of the ratio and how it worked plus c] Application how to apply to task, [these are all known as Lower order thinking skills. d] Thereafter select the relevant information from each balance sheet and calculate the ratio. [ Analytic skill level 4]

      November 24, 2012 at 8:13 am
    29. Moving on… and i hope i am not boring you.

      Level five is called Synthesis and requires the learners to compare the range of answers they have extracted and find similarities and variances. Then finally they have to demonstrate level 6 …evaluation. They were presented with a problem to solve having been [mythically] left a large sum of money from a successful ‘tenderpreneurial’ relative [some familiarity is essential in formulating bridges from the known to the unknown.] They want to invest it on the stock market so where should they put it of the four.

      Curiously, based on the maths and their instructions regarding the ratios, the majority chose Lewis Group as their first choice and Pick n Pay as their worst. I leave it to those more familiar with the market to determine whether that was good or bad.

      The top learner [girl] scored 95%. Three others scored above 80% … the top ten average [8 girls] was 76%. The bottom ten [8 boys] was 26%.

      There are three things about this that are important. 1. Boys are a big part of the problem with education. 2. Learning everything about how an economy works, from basic personal budgeting to the fractional reserve multiplier, is a basic part of every schoolkid’s education, 3. Most adults cannot read a Balance Sheet and are therefore at the mercy of every thieving financial hustler who is out to get their money.

      Finally the core problem with Education is not the curriculum but the problem of superimposing a ….

      November 24, 2012 at 8:32 am
    30. 21st century technology based construct into a 19th century business model…

      It is a ‘work in progress’ and while the results may be disappointing consider just how far we have come in such a short time.

      November 24, 2012 at 8:34 am
    31. @Reducto
      Actually, nowhere else in the world has legal action been taken against a Minister of Education for the late delivery of textbooks!!! Its a travesty to use our court system to engage in such gutter politics. But then the DA and their sidekicks have no shame in exploiting the politics of division to cling to power. Sies!

      @RubinBanana
      Taking an incident that could happen in any school anywhere in the word and then embelishing it to propogate you great white savior myth shows how little you understand of the nature of real education which goes far beyond your simpleminded notions.

      @DeeGeee
      Re-read your comments again.
      ” your usual rant of beneficiaries of Apartheid”
      Seems like you’re choosing to deny reality. The continued enjoyment of the ill-gotten gains of apartheid must end soon!

      For starters, just looking at South America, we see clear evidence of nationalization creating economic and social stability in so many countries. The poster child being Brazil. Why do I have to spell out the obvious?

      November 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm
    32. Reducto #

      @Harris: “Actually, nowhere else in the world has legal action been taken against a Minister of Education for the late delivery of textbooks!!! Its a travesty to use our court system to engage in such gutter politics. ”

      Yes, nowhere else, because where else in the world have textbooks been delivered that late? Where else in the world has court action been required as late in the academic year as October because textbooks have not been delivered? Where else in the world has court action been required, as of necessity, to force delivery of textbooks?

      You forget, we have a justiciable Bill of Rights. It is perfectly legitimate to litigate when a right such as education is threatened.

      Nobody started instituting court action over late delivery as a matter of days or even weeks, but only when half the academic year had gone by. And then months after the initial court order, it was necessary for Section 27 to go back to court on behalf of some schools because books had still not been delivered.

      You’re a shameless propaganda troll who will blindly defend the ANC no matter what, and will smear good faith organisations like Section 27, with no evidence.

      Dave Harris, defender of the indefensible. Enough said.

      November 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm
    33. DeeGee #

      Harris. Always looking backwards. Never forwards. My argument is based on creating new wealth. Beneficiaries of Apartheid – well, that must also include our ‘black chips’, right??

      Something for you to consider: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/world/americas/dismay-over-argentinas-nationalization-plan.html?_r=0

      November 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm
    34. Marianne de Leuca #

      @ Dave Harris

      Although what RubinBanana described could have happened in any country in the world, perhaps you should consider what he said in the light of the fact that South Africa came last in a ranking of 62 countries in the quality of maths and science education. Prof Jonathan Jansen has said that our children can excel if they are given the opportunity, circumstances and motivation to succeed. I agree that this problem has its roots in Apartheid, but that is not the sole cause and so much more could have been done in the past 18 years. We are going backwards, not forwards.

      Yes, the DA and their ‘sidekicks’ as you call them did shout loudly about the fact that no textbooks were delivered to children in Limpopo. But they were not the only ones so you can hardly say that they were ‘exploiting the politics of division’, or whatever. What is shameful is that you apparently find that situation acceptable and not worthy of court action to rectify it. Why do you have such low standards, or do you think that the affected children don’t deserve better than that? Isn’t that Apartheid thinking?

      November 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm
    35. jandr0 #

      @Koketso: I like your thinking. Yes, non-delivery of text books, endless striking and political interference is not the ONLY problem.

      Sadly, however, just as a house must be built on a solid foundation, those issues are key to the solid foundation required to address education in South Africa.

      That is why I suspect they are getting most of the attention.

      But, like you say, that does not mean we should not also think about how we improve education, and in particular for me, the level of engagement and quality of education.

      Unfortunately I don’t have time left to do more – there is only so many hours in a day, and I am putting much of my extra time into upliftment of people in my business.

      FWIW.

      1. Agree on “curiosity.” In our line of business, fault isolation skills are critical, yet the ingrained approach from most new employees we skill up further is on rote learning. It takes us an interminably long time (at great cost to our company) to tone down the rote learning approach by instilling the necessary curiosity, hypothesising and problem solving approach that does not seem to come with (most) education in South Africa.

      2. Agree on “content and quality.” Saying that there are people with a degree that cannot get a job does not surprise me as much any more. I have interviewed (and employed) people with recent degrees, and the quality is often atrocious.

      The loser’s cop-out? Blame apartheid, like Dave Harris.

      November 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm
    36. Oldfox #

      I got this link via Twitter. ‘Time to see the world through young people’ http://gu.com/p/3bnn3/tw
      8 young Africans from across Africa gave their views on Africa’s employment crises. I liked this view the best, from a 21 year old young woman, Kaddijatou Manneh from the Gambia. She writes:

      ” I’d like to reform the education system. You quickly realise that they are only pushing us from one grade to another, the education system is not giving us relevant and quality information. It’s more theoretical, we’re not taught skills that are practical, skills that we can apply in our personal lives, it’s not giving us skills that make us think out of the box.

      I’d bring in an education system where you have the teacher and the student interacting with one another, where you’re challenged to come up with innovative ideas, to come up with new ways of doing things, with ways of exploring new territories, a system that is relevant to the needs of the people, which would ensure that even if young people can’t have access to employment opportunities, they would be able to come up with opportunities for themselves and also for their colleagues.

      Education is the way of putting one’s potential to maximum use. It’s the foundation of everything, it’s the cornerstone.”

      November 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm
    37. RubinBanana #

      My dear Dave
      Do you always have to make such an ass of yourself?
      I did not take an “incident” that could “happen” anywhere; I gave some facts to illustrate just how bad things are.
      As it turns out, I have the full co-operation of the principal and the teacher and will be working with them and other neighbourhood schools early next year to try and come up with remedies. I know I do not have all the answers, but I can at least make some suggestions
      The school incidentally had a 4 percent pass rate in the recent math record exam for matrics, so they know how bad things are.
      I do not have a teaching diploma for maths, but have been helping kids here and in the UK, and they keep on coming back for more, so I don’t think I am doing too badly. I could be making money but I am not. I teach for the love of it. It gives me a thrill to see the kids opening up.
      So if anyone, Dave included, wants to detract from what I am trying to do, feel free! I am having fun! I even enjoy Dave’s ridiculous comments.
      I just wonder what people like Dave are doing themselves to improve the situation (other than blaming the legacy of apartheid, of course!)
      If anyone has positive suggestions, I would appreciate it.
      I hope to report back from time to time on progress, if the editors will allow me to do that.
      @Momma Cyndi: I have heard of similar incidents. Fortunately I am getting total co-operation.
      @ Marianne de Leuca: I have read the article and agree fully, but am trying to do…

      November 24, 2012 at 11:25 pm
    38. @RubinBanana
      Interesting, how your anecdotal experiences, boastful as they are, suddenly become “facts” – what arrogance! Your agenda of self-promotion is pretty obvious to everyone. Sies!
      Whats laughable though is how you still have the gall to call other’s comments “ridiculous”. LOL

      @Marianne de Leuca
      Using our valuable judicial resources to engage in gutter politics simply prevents our government from focusing on reducing crime and corruption in our society. I find it disturbing that you can’t see how this problem could have been resolved diplomatically through some form of arbitration between the ANC and the DA. Are you honestly telling me the the DA really cares about the education of black kids when they stubbornly refused to fully integrate schools until 1994??!!!

      @jandr0
      No, its not just apartheid that’s to blame but the white tribal DA that only pays lip service to education reform so that they can continue to enjoy their schools and universities bu marginalizing black (African, Coloured and Indian) children using Afrikaans and costly private/model-c schools!

      November 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm
    39. Momma Cyndi #

      Talking to an old school friend about this article yesterday (big ups to Koketso for making us talk about this – that is good journalism). She reminded me of where our excitement for knowledge came from.

      Does anyone remember the ‘tours’ that came through Africa? The exhibition on the tomb of Tutankhamen (which turned us all into amateur archaeologists) or the giant whale skeleton which you could walk around inside of (which turned us all into oceanographers) and the most spectacular model of the space craft and the moon rock (which turned us all into astronautical engineers) – to mention just a few.

      Recently there was a lovely story about a school where they took on a project to take photos at varying heights over SA. The kids oganised a weather balloon from the weather service and got a camera donated. They then did all the calculations to take into consideration all of the various likely scenarios. That must have inspired a lot more interest in math and science than sitting in a class could ever do.

      The concept of OBE is teaching the practical application of knowledge. The lack of resources means it cannot work. Maybe a middle ground would work by going back to the old fashioned method of concentrating on the teaching the three ‘r’s’ and showing how the information can be used in a practical manner? I’m sure that there are some university students who would be happy to put on a ‘tour’ of their projects. Bridge building week is hilarious fun.

      November 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm
    40. Reducto #

      @Harris: “I find it disturbing that you can’t see how this problem could have been resolved diplomatically through some form of arbitration between the ANC and the DA.”

      Dear Shameless propaganda troll,

      1. It was not the DA that took the matter to court.

      2. Textbooks had not been delivered to some schools as late as October, despite a court ruling earlier in the year. The education department was dragging its heels every step of the way. And you think arbitration would have worked?

      November 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm
    41. greatgodpan #

      i dont believe the govt is capable of educating our children…..neither should they be……dangerous thing allowing a govt to be totally responsible for indoctrinating your children……yes the govt is responsible for the basics….the curricullem….but the curricullem alone cannot produce well balanced individuals……only reading a diversity of literatue on a diversity of subjects can produce well educated people…….the prescribed reading materials at school cannot do this…..we the parents have to take over from here and teach our children to read……encourage your children by making diverse reading materials available in your home,restrict tv and electronics……..extra mural activities are also required and parents have to start getting involved in these……simple things like building the sets for school plays can teach kids valuable life skills (design,materials,tools)……baking the cookies for cake sales teaches valuable economic life skills (recipies are akin to scientific formulae as in cheesemaking) ……this is real education……….THE PARENTS HAVE TO GET INVOLVED IN EDUCATING THEIR OWN KIDS………..but many parents themselves are worked to death trying to make ends meet and dont have the time for their own kids……….which indicates that our whole society and economy is geared in a very anti social way………….the family is the basic of a well balanced and structured society……employers take no

      November 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm

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