Nur­ture trumps ed­u­ca­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

THE CEN­TRAL point in my let­ter to Week­end Ar­gus has been com­pletely missed by Dr Wil­mot James and the DA (Week­end Ar­gus, Jan­uary 9).

Po­lit­i­cal leaders think that fix­ing our so­ci­etal prob­lems starts with ed­u­ca­tion. They think that if they can get ed­u­ca­tion right, then the rest of so­ci­ety’s prob­lems will even­tu­ally self­cor­rect. I dis­agree.

The prob­lems we see in ed­u­ca­tion to­day are the out­come of a deeper root cause which is re­spon­si­ble for a mul­ti­tude of se­ri­ous so­cial prob­lems. This cause is grossly in­ad­e­quate par­ent­ing.

The root cause of se­ri­ous so­ci­etal prob­lems in many com­mu­ni­ties is teenage preg­nan­cies and too-early moth­er­hood and no re­spon­si­bil­ity ex­er­cised by the fathers.

If you could elim­i­nate this teenage preg­nancy prob­lem, then other prob­lems would self-cor­rect.

The Week­end Ar­gus pho­to­graph of ma­tric star Aboo-Bakr Ben­jamin pos­ing with his broth­ers and his lit­tle sis­ter (who, very sig­nif­i­cantly, is hold­ing a chil­dren’s book) is the per­fect il­lus­tra­tion of my con­tention that the key to a good ed­u­ca­tion starts in the fam­ily. And this is es­pe­cially so in pover­tyrid­den sur­round­ings, as Aboo’s ex­am­ple il­lus­trates.

It does not start at school, as our ed­u­ca­tion­ists would have you be­lieve. In­ci­den­tally, miss­ing from this pic­ture are the real stars: Aboo’s par­ents. If only there were more like them. And if only their con­tri­bu­tion was ac­tively recog­nised by the au­thor­i­ties who seem wil­fully obliv­i­ous to the crit­i­cal role played by par­ents.

A pop­u­lar Chi­nese def­i­ni­tion of in­san­ity is to keep on do­ing the same thing, and ex­pect a dif­fer­ent out­come each time.

So it is with the DA’s “so­lu­tion” for the ed­u­ca­tion prob­lem. Their pro­pos­als are noth­ing more than “bet­ter” im­ple­men­ta­tion of so­lu­tions that have been tried in the past.

There is noth­ing in their core vi­sion that is a rad­i­cal change from the past. The DA is be­ing disin­gen­u­ous in try­ing to con­vince the pub­lic that they have fixed the prob­lem. The ed­u­ca­tion re­sults at the end of this year, or next year, or in 20 years’ time, will not dif­fer sig­nif­i­cantly from what we are get­ting now. And why should they when the grossly dis­parate qual­ity of the raw ma­te­rial en­ter­ing the ed­u­ca­tion pipe­line is left un­changed?

Dr James agrees with my point that teenage preg­nancy is a huge prob­lem and a key blight on es­cap­ing the poverty trap, yet the DA has no thoughts what­so­ever – let alone any strat­egy – to counter this.

It is as­ton­ish­ing that a rul­ing party can ac­knowl­edge a se­ri­ous prob­lem, yet ad­mit to do­ing noth­ing. He­len Zille and the DA have lost the plot. The party is be­ing pop­u­lated by “hand­wringers” and hen­sop­pers whose only tal­ent is to find an ex­cuse at ev­ery turn, when the sit­u­a­tion is in­creas­ingly des­per­ate and de­mands ev­er­more bold and decisive action.

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