Put ed­u­ca­tion sec­ond? That is pure hog­wash

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

JOHN God­siff says that ed­u­cat­ing chil­dren is use­less and will not suc­ceed in ad­vanc­ing this coun­try. Be­fore ed­u­ca­tion works, he says we need the home life of chil­dren to change and for the par­ents to be­come bet­ter par­ents. The prob­lem, he says, is “grossly in­ad­e­quate par­ent­ing” and teenage preg­nan­cies.

It will only take a mo­ment for any think­ing per­son to re­alise the use­less­ness of say­ing “First fix poverty and dys­func­tional fam­i­lies, and only then can you suc­cess­fully ed­u­cate our chil­dren”.

Al­though Mr God­siff con­demns the DA for not solv­ing the is­sue of in­ad­e­quate par­ent­ing, he him­self, in over three col­umns of newsprint, makes not one prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tion how to tackle the prob­lem of in­ad­e­quate par­ent­ing.

It is of course the other way round, – ed­u­ca­tion is a pow­er­ful in­stru­ment, prob­a­bly the ONLY in­stru­ment – which will im­prove the qual­ity of life of the poor in any coun­try.

So­cial ills, in­clud­ing teenage preg­nan­cies about which Mr God­siff is so ob­sessed, are di­rectly re­lated to poverty. It is be­yond the power of any gov­ern­ment to solve the prob­lem of poverty un­less they ed­u­cate peo­ple so they can find em­ploy­ment.

Give a per­son a job and in­come, and you give that per­son the pos­si­bil- ity of es­tab­lish­ing a home and rais­ing him or her­self from the de­spair of job­less­ness and poverty. And how do peo­ple get jobs? By ob­tain­ing an ed­u­ca­tion! The sin­gle great­est bar­rier to a poor per­son get­ting a job is bad or no ed­u­ca­tion. Teach a per­son to read and write, and you give that per­son a huge boost in find­ing em­ploy­ment.

That is the power of ed­u­ca­tion as a tool for so­cial im­prove­ment. Un­til this coun­try im­proves the ed­u­ca­tion of our chil­dren, we will not solve the so­cial is­sues re­lated to poverty. The idea that we can some­how solve the so­cial is­sues first and THEN de­liver ed­u­ca­tion is im­prac­ti­cal and harm­ful non­sense.

There are en­cour­ag­ing signs that af­ter 15 largely wasted years, our present Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion is recog­nis­ing the need to go back to ba­sics and aban­don poli­cies like Out­comes Based Ed­u­ca­tion, and in­stead to fo­cus on im­prov­ing lit­er­acy, nu­mer­acy and knowl­edge of English.

Ev­ery teacher who teaches a child to read and write and ex­press him­self, is do­ing some­thing con­crete to­wards solv­ing the so­cial is­sues in this coun­try and en­sur­ing that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions be­come bet­ter par­ents, and live bet­ter lives.

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