Thursday, August 2, 2012

Education in SA

South African Education: The Rot From Within

In light of recent events, as exposed by the media houses within the country, it seems as though our 'education system' is at a brink of or is at collapse. The question many have failed to ask amidst their passionate submissions about the subject is; did we actually have a system of education in the land? And if there was ever such a thing, did it work? I mean, we must have a litmus upon which we can deduct that the current system is, as it is being said, a failure. It is a healthy aspect of the 'humanity' to be emotional about things we feel passionate about. I for one am passionate about the education of ourselves and our children in this country we call South Africa. Yet, I refuse to be emotional about it.For, what purpose do emotions serve in such critical matters. Instead I choose to dissect the matter, as far as my mental capacity allows. *sigh*.

Education. What is education? Where does it come from? And who is it really for? Some background information tells me that this beast called Education, is in fact a lab product of psychologists such as B.F Skinner. The idea was to formulate a system of learning which was precise, methodical and manageable. For whom, remains a mystery. Essentially all flavors of the worlds education, come from Skinner and the likes. And as such the common thread among them is the lack off a holistic approach to learning. The focus is solely on how to make learning efficient. The rabbits and rats, 'who' were used for experimentation, to this day have no use for such a thing. You enter the schooling system and leave it having being bombarded with Terabytes of information, and have no idea what to use it for and how to use it.

So there exists a dislocation between learning and purpose. Which would explain why we have a low percentage of people in the world who are actually interested in learning, i.e. 3% of the world's population comprises of intellectuals. And this has been the case since the beginning of time. There has always been one or two wise men per village and yet life went on without a hitch. Fast forward to today, everyone is required to be a wise guy to function in the world, which brings me to another short coming of the system,the dislocation between talent and learning. There is no room for rooting out and enhancing ones talents in the current set up of education. You find that children who are extremely skilled learners are trapped in levels of schooling which undermine their abilities. This is a flaw of the Skinner approach to learning, grouping children by age stifles each individuals progress and also boldly assumes that all children at that particular age are not knowledgeable of certain information.

Educators complain about children not having an interest in reading. So the question becomes; why are our children not interested in books? This is not a phenomenon unique to South Africa. The USA did run into a similar problem in the 50s. They put their heads together and realized that the issue was not with the grades, but the lack of interest or the boredom that came with the material the children were given at schools. It is the same case for the Bantu community, the books we have a really not interesting to the children. Hence they end up in the dumpsters of Limpopo. Even as an adult I have difficulty reading boring books.

We can only count the number of people in this country who are truly interested in the art of teaching. Most people take up the profession as a 'way out' of bread-less-ness and into bread winning. So you get educators, ministers of education, education advisers and inspectors, who are not in the least interested in the actual education of our kids or ourselves. In reality teaching is not an attractive career to most of our people and I believe this is not because of lack of interest, rather it is the lack of pay. The profession is among the lowest paying of disciplines. A by-product of a system which does not cater for individual talent. It is also a fact that the post-Apartheid government has never been interested in educating the Bantu community, otherwise Bantu schools would not be sitting without proper resources.

You have to ask why there is so much investment into upgrading jailhouses. Shouldn't we be trying to invest more in methods of preventing the need for jailhouses in the first place? If this government can organize such things as the SADC, COP17, The FIFA world cup and NEPAD with ease, then it is clear that the expertise and funds to redesign the education system have always been there. So what we need to ask is; what exactly are the intentions of our government regarding education? Why are we having so much difficulty pinning down the most basic of all necessities? Having placed blame on the government and done so rightfully, let me examine this monster further.

There is one very critical causality of this rot in society, besides the government setup itself. The citizen. The bulk of the citizens in this country and continent(to be broad)is made up mostly of products of oppression. This causes the mental problem of overlooking very important things in life. The Africans simply attach all that is progress and civilization to their oppressors/masters. There is no real drive to improve our own communities, but there is a drive to migrate out of our communities. If we are really an honest people then we should question our insistence on sending our kids off to schools outside our communities. The excuse of 'better resources' is old and tired, stupid in fact. The schools outside our communities are in such desirable conditions because of the interest of the parents there. These colonialist folks do not sit and watch, should there be a deterioration in their schools. In fact they made sure that their governments back then built them the schools they wanted and with all the resources they needed. So what did the Bantu community do, now that it too has a government?

We aught to rethink our political positions as Bantu folks. We cannot keep playing the ballot game with people who care less about the conditions of our communities. Nor should we maintain our ineptitude in matters that affect us directly. Taking to the streets does not bring about any change. We have known this for years, yet we keep doing it and when we do, we never follow through. Perhaps it is time we reshuffled our political stand point. I submit that each black community should detach itself from all these self-profiting organizations and set up their own inter-community governing bodies. The idea that we can continue to sponsor people who are accountable to these organizations and not our communities, is indicative of lax thinking among ourselves. For how long are we going to keep migrating from our own communities? How long are we going to live next to broken down schools?

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