Fo­cus on qual­ity rather than quan­tity

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Tha­bile Mange

MIN­IS­TER of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Angie Mot­shekga has of­fi­cially an­nounced the ma­tric re­sults, and the class of 2016 has done us proud.

That said, many pupils who are able and ca­pa­ble will join the queue of the un­em­ployed.

High fees at higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions bar many from fur­ther­ing their stud­ies, and this will con­tinue for many years to come.

But I di­gress. The govern­ment pumps a lot of money into ed­u­ca­tion; it doesn’t rate among the best in the world and is even rated lower than coun­tries that have far smaller GDPs than ours.

This shows that throw­ing money at the prob­lem is not the so­lu­tion. The prob­lem is the govern­ment is con­cerned about quan­tity (num­bers) and not qual­ity. That re­sults in our ed­u­ca­tion be­ing of in­fe­rior qual­ity. Hence we don’t in­no­vate and in­vent new things.

That means the coun­try will con­tinue re­ly­ing on other coun­tries for so­lu­tions.

In ad­di­tion, the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem doesn’t pre­pare pupils for the job mar­ket and en­trepreneur­ship.

The econ­omy is ail­ing and needs a se­ri­ous boost, and en­trepreneur­ship is part of the an­swer. Yet we are pro­duc­ing fewer en­trepreneurs.

The per­ti­nent ques­tion is: Are we bank­rupt of ideas on how to solve our ed­u­ca­tion prob­lems?

The an­swer is a re­sound­ing “no”.

The govern­ment is not will­ing to lis­ten to any­one, par­tic­u­larly ex­perts.

It seems to en­joy hear­ing its own voice. In essence, there is no po­lit­i­cal will to solve the chal­lenges we are fac­ing in ed­u­ca­tion. But this is noth­ing new. Dur­ing the apartheid era, the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem favoured the mi­nor­ity as op­posed to the ma­jor­ity peo­ple of this coun­try.

Black peo­ple had in­fe­rior ed­u­ca­tion and few at­tended univer­sity.

We con­tinue to suf­fer the con­se­quences of that un­just pol­icy even to­day.

In­ter­est­ingly, the same in­fe­rior apartheid-era ed­u­ca­tion pro­duced great lead­ers such as Robert Sobukwe, Nel­son Man­dela and Zepha­nia Mothopeng.

There is no rea­son why it can­not pro­duce more great lead­ers in our democ­racy.

I know it of­fends many when we com­pare the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem of to­day to that of the apartheid era, and un­der­stand­ably so.

Apartheid was a di­a­bolic sys­tem. But it forms part of the coun­try’s his­tory. So we can­not run away from it. And we’ll keep mak­ing ref­er­ence to it.

That said, pupils will have to make the most of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, even if it’s not rated among the best in the world. The young­sters will have to use it to bet­ter their lives and pro­vide so­lu­tions to the coun­try’s prob­lems.

There is no other way. Joburg SOME years back, Ja­pan set out a 10-year plan to make all its ci­ti­zens lit­er­ate and nu­mer­ate. It was a re­sound­ing suc­cess.

Pon­der­ing this, I con­cluded that one of the dif­fer­ences be­tween Ja­panese and South African teach­ers is that in Ja­pan teach­ers are highly re­spected. Our teach­ers, and their pro­fes­sion, are gen­er­ally held in low re­gard.

This no­tion, re­flec­tive of a cap­i­tal­ist so­ci­ety, is re­in­forced

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