The chalk line
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.