Let’s wake up to re­al­ity

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

THE TIME has come for John God­siff (Cape Points, Jan­uary 23) to be­come much more pre­cise about the re­la­tion­ship he sees be­tween ed­u­ca­tion and so­ci­ety.

The DA is wholly com­mit­ted in pol­icy and prac­tice to the build­ing of a so­ci­ety where op­por­tu­ni­ties – to meet life’s ne­ces­si­ties and make so­cial, cul­tural and po­lit­i­cal progress – are open to all.

Our coun­try is trapped in the pol­i­tics of the tribe, the big-chief syn­drome and eth­nic nepo­tism – in both black and white so­ci­ety.

Nepo­tism and the crony so­ci­ety is ev­ery­where, a legacy of the Na­tional Party’s apartheid klep­toc­racy and the ANC’s Lenin­ist cen­tral­ism.

Free­dom re­quires that we bring the largely feu­dal pa­tron­age ma­chine crafted by the last gen­er­a­tion of ANC and SACP per­son­nel to be trained by the Soviet Union to an end by build­ing an al­ter­na­tive ap­proach which we call the “open-op­por­tu­nity so­ci­ety”.

The con­cept was dis­tilled through two cen­turies of thought and rests on two fun­da­men­tal pil­lars

The first is a be­lief in the com­pelling im­por­tance of a mod­ern sta­teof-the-art ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem avail­able to all in or­der to both cul­ti­vate inde- pen­dently think­ing cit­i­zens, without which a vi­brant democ­racy is not pos­si­ble, and to get the brains of our young peo­ple geared to­wards par­tic­i­pat­ing in a mod­ern glob­alised econ­omy. The sec­ond pil­lar is, quite sim­ply, that gov­ern­ments can­not cre­ate sus­tain­able jobs. Pub­lic ser­vice jobs are cre­ated to pro­vide ser­vices to cit­i­zens – but it is the pri­vate sec­tor that cre­ates jobs that gen­er­ate wealth. It does so in a man­ner that gov­ern­ment sim­ply can­not.

Com­pare the ef­fi­ciency with which Home Af­fairs ren­ders cit­i­zen­ship ser­vices to Pick n Pay’s dis­tri­bu­tion of ev­ery­thing a house­hold needs – and more – at a com­pet­i­tive price.

To make pri­vate en­ter­prise the en­gine of growth re­quires that we roll up our sleeves and get to work, that we use ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to get an ed­u­ca­tion and ac­quire a skill, that we stop think­ing that gov­ern­ment is a cow to be milked and we cease the whinge­ing and whin­ing and get on with life.

Few are so naïve as to think that ed­u­ca­tion will solve the na­tion’s prob­lems. It is, how­ever, one of many key as­sets that gov­ern­ment fi­nances, con­trols and man­ages. In the West­ern Cape – where the DA gov­erns – there is a clear, de­lib­er­ate and or­gan­ised plan to re­form our school sys­tem led by Don­ald Grant.

Grant fo­cuses on ac­count­abil­ity and school lead­er­ship as the key driv­ers of change. The vi­sion and plans are on the WCED web­site http://wced.wcape.gov.za/

Click on the Back to School 2010 but­ton and you can se­lect a range of op­tions that are self ex­plana­tory.

Left with empty cof­fers by the pre­vi­ous ANC-led pro­vin­cial ad­min­is­tra­tion, progress here will be­come vis­i­ble over the next num­ber of years. God­siff sug­gests that gov­ern­ment should do more than that but he does not say ex­actly what.

Here are some pos­si­bil­i­ties. We could for ex­am­ple use our tax sys­tem to make (late) mar­riage and hav­ing small fam­i­lies very at­trac­tive in fi­nan­cial terms; use the jus­tice sys­tem to more ef­fi­ciently com­pel ab­sent fathers to meet their main­te­nance pay­ments; cal­i­brate our so­cial wel­fare sys­tem to make it at­trac­tive for di­vorced moth­ers and fathers to stay in touch with their chil­dren; and make it highly unattrac­tive and costly for young women to fall preg­nant. We could (and should) pro­vide spe­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties for young women to ob­tain a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion.

The re­li­gious sec­tor, pri­vate en­ter­prise and the pub­lic sec­tor should pro­vide crèches for the chil­dren of work­ing class fam­i­lies. Then the rest of gov­ern­ment should take the drugs off the street, en­able small busi­nesses to de­velop and pat MEC Robin Carlisle on the back for his ster­ling work on pub­lic trans­port in the West­ern Cape.

The DA has no vi­sion, Mr God­siff ? Wake up man, you are in deep slum­ber.

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