The chalk line

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

THREE WEEKS ago Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma laid down the law to school princi- pals who at­tended a meet­ing with him in Dur­ban, telling them they should ban teach­ers from their schools who did not dress ap­pro­pri­ately or who did not re­spect school hours.

It was a zero-tol­er­ance speech that was ap­plauded for set­ting stan­dards for teach­ers to up­hold. Zuma was praised for his prom­ise to make sur­prise vis­its to schools to check on teach­ers.

How­ever, in the days since that im­bizo, com­men­tary and anal­y­sis from a range of ed­u­ca­tion­ists has sug­gested that the trou­bles in our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem go far deeper than teacher dress codes or their mere pres­ence in class­rooms.

Last week a pre­sen­ta­tion to Par­lia­ment on the out­come of the Na­tional Bench­marks Test Project re­vealed the ex­tent of the fail­ure of the sys­tem to de­liver an equal ed­u­ca­tion for all. The project was de­signed to as­sess the suit­abil­ity of stu­dents for higher aca­demic study, and re­vealed that our Na­tional Se­nior Cer­tifi­cate re­sults are an un­re­li­able gauge of suc­cess in sub­jects such as math­e­mat­ics.

To­day we carry an ex­tract from a new book by Graeme Bloch, who fin­gers an ex­cess of ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties for teach­ers as part of the prob­lem in our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, and also points to our fail­ure

to hold teach­ers prop­erly ac­count­able.

Bloch ques­tions the im­pact on youngsters of a gen­eral law­less­ness that pre­vails in our so­ci­ety and the lack of role mod­els be­yond the class­room.

Clearly the prepa­ra­tion of young peo­ple for their roles in so­ci­ety is not a task for teach­ers alone. We are all re­spon­si­ble for meet­ing this chal­lenge.

But, in par­tic­u­lar, it is those who set the wider frame­work for our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem who should be held to ac­count. Without ad­e­quate re­sources, train­ing and ca­pac­ity for teach­ers to do their dif­fi­cult

jobs, fail­ure is en­tirely pre­dictable.

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