THERE ARE abilities one is born with and others that are learned. That’s the difference between nature and nurture. The ANC emphasises the latter and thinks the welfare of South Africa will be promoted with unhindered access to free higher education. The truth is that you can’t teach a snail to play the piano.
What we need is a process that will continue for decades. School teaching must improve. The starting point is that better teachers must be trained and appointed while inefficient ones must be dismissed. That will eventually lead to better candidates entering higher education.
The quality of higher education is determined by primary and secondary education. It’s just foolish to have two Ministers of Education. A single minister with (if necessary) two deputies – one for schools and one for higher education – would be better.
It’s also important for the Minister of Education to be as non-ideological as possible. A Communist is exactly the opposite of what’s required here. According to the Nzimande plan, university entrance standards will be lowered. Pressure on achievement will be eased, because students will be spending their time there free.
Is the current university situation not bad enough? Note what the council of the University of Stellenbosch decided on 21 February 2009: As part of its vision for 2015 it wants 84% of students to pass, 34% must be non-white and 40% must be postgraduate. Is this kind of manipulation not destructive of academic values?
In order to achieve a higher “success rate” among non-whites, the admission and passing standards will necessarily have to be lowered; more so, because the University of Stellenbosch has decided to commit itself as far as possible to appointing non-whites as lecturers. A university that openly recruits students and lecturers on the basis of race and sex rather than academic merit has no credible future as an academic institute.