Nur­tur­ing tal­ent of all kids

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

JOHN God­siff (Week­end Ar­gus, De­cem­ber 12) writes an in­ter­est­ing let­ter about the prob­lems in ed­u­ca­tion.

He says its root cause pre­cedes school­ing.

Vari­a­tion in the ge­netic en­dow­ment of chil­dren is crit­i­cal to suc­cess, as is the qual­ity of par­ent­ing, he says.

Once in school, good teach­ers re­turn­ing to old school ba­sics like read­ing, writ­ing and arith­metic should be the norm. There must be a spe­cial fo­cus on girls, to en­sure that an un­wanted preg­nancy does not ruin their lives.

Fi­nally, schools must have the abil­ity to cur­tail out­side in­flu­ences that un­der­mine the in­tegrity of good ed­u­ca­tion.

The Demo­cratic Al­liance is in agree­ment with God­siff ’s points.

But we would like to am­plify one point that could eas­ily be mis­un­der­stood, which is the re­la­tion­ship be­tween ge­netic en­dow­ment, ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties and jus­tice.

It is demon­stra­bly true that there are dif­fer­ences in brain­power be­tween one in­di­vid­ual and an­other.

This is an as­set and should be recog­nised as such. Some­times dif­fer­ences in brain power re­sult in some of us be­ing smarter than oth­ers and the alert teacher is usu­ally able to recog­nise this re­al­ity in the class­room.

Please re­mem­ber that in­equal­ity in “smart­ness” is a cul­tural con­struct based on ge­netic en­dow­ment.

The point to be drawn from this is that a school sys­tem must be able to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for the var­i­ous tal­ents of all chil­dren.

It is a mat­ter of jus­tice. Ev­ery child ought to have the op­por­tu­nity to ben­e­fit from the pub­lic ben­e­fit of school­ing be­cause it is its right, as much as it is our moral obli­ga­tion to pro­vide it.

In pol­icy terms it means our pub­lic re­sources must be spent in a man­ner that ben­e­fits the child.

It is the Demo­cratic Al­liance’s view that the ANC-led gov­ern­ment has not sup­plied re­sources in a man­ner that ben­e­fits the child.

The child should have well-trained, dis­ci­plined and sup­ported teach­ers in class, teach­ing in ably ad­min­is­tered and well-led schools us­ing mod­ern tech­nolo­gies and teach­ing as­sets that fo­cus on the ba­sics of read­ing, writ­ing and arith­metic.

The ANC has mis­spent money on min­istries, ad­min­is­tra­tion and all man­ner of mis­guided projects – some­times in ca­hoots with the trade unions – all of which have noth­ing to do with the school-go­ing child.

Still, there is a re­newed com­mit­ment to im­prove ed­u­ca­tion and God- siff ought to recog­nise that politi­cians and ad­min­is­tra­tors only have con­trol over the school sys­tem and not over par­ents.

We can but ap­peal to par­ents to do their bit.

Some par­ents have great dif­fi­culty in do­ing so be­cause they have con­straints.

In my con­stituency, Mitchells Plain, many com­mit­ted par­ents both have to work and re­turn home very late ev­ery day, too tired to spend time with their chil­dren.

In work­ing class and im­pov­er­ished ar­eas, there­fore, we ought to pro­vide fa­cil­i­ties for chil­dren to be cared for af­ter school­ing.

Fi­nally, I can­not agree more with God­siff that we must look af­ter our girls and stop the epi­demic of teenage preg­nan­cies that ruin so many lives.

ED­U­CA­TION CALL: The sys­tem must be able to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for the var­i­ous tal­ents of all chil­dren, says the DA’s Wil­mot James.

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