Edjukashun ees wot, wun kan tel,
Wil teech peepil hau thay shud spel,
Bit, frum resint sampuls
Wun seez az egzampuls,
Eat jest izint dun vary wel!
For the side view theme of EDUCATION, I have an observation relating to a recent speech by researcher Nic Spaull in which he stated that SA school performance 1996 to 2011 rates an F. He blames high absenteeism and low subject knowledge among teachers, as well as the failure of pupils to acquire the most basic literacy and numeracy skills. The second part sounds a bit silly. How do pupils acquire such skills from unskilled teachers? That is hardly the pupils’ failure.
He claims, however, that ‘the post-apartheid government inherited a divided and mostly dysfunctional education system’.
This, I dispute. I came into contact with a number of black schools before and after that time, and found them to be well-run, efficient, and motivated. They did a remarkable job of overcoming the handicaps of overcrowding/culture/home life/language medium with which the majority of black scholars had to contend.
Elder Daughter was one of the highly qualified (Master’s Degree) whites teaching in black schools through most of the 1990s, first in a ‘township’ type, and then in a so-called ‘farm’ school. She was passionate about what she was doing, and achieved remarkable results.
Then BEE began to be implemented to an ever-increasing and idiotic extent, and some highly unsuitable people were drafted in while the really experienced staff became sidelined. Finally, dedication and enthusiasm were not enough, and the family moved to UK where a distinguished school has the benefit of her expertise. A similar pattern applied to my son-in-law, a professional in hospital services.
On the education side, however, if only those in power had kept the common sense to rise above idealism. Even if in nothing else, they should have retained within the teaching profession the best ones for the jobs regardless of race, colour or creed. Excellence breeds excellence, and we would by now have had the products of such educations, equipped to pass on the same standards.
As it is, the whole pattern of competence is showing a steady decline. Adjusting marks to a ‘mean’ is simply wearing blindfolds, and it should be faced that many or most black school leavers are now at a far lower level of actual knowledge and ability than their (admittedly too few) counterparts during the apartheid era.
Even now, it is not too late to encourage back the more qualified and suitable people to carry forward this vital responsibility – out of retirement, back from countries they emigrated to with great regret and reluctance, or away from less vital sectors.
Sadly, this would require a level of mature thinking which is seldom, if ever, displayed by the current regime.
And, to close with, our contribution to education over the weekend – educating indigenous plant enthusiasts about show gardens. This is a shot of the stand while I was setting it up.
© Colonialist August 2012 (WordPress/Letterdash)