Daily Maverick

THE GHOSTS OF APARTHEID’S POLICIES STILL HAUNT US

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I was born in 1948, went to Hamilton Primary School and Hillview High School in Pretoria, and paid school fees each term. My parents, my sister and I lived in a one bedroom rented flat. I had hopes of going to university, but my mother could not afford to pay any fees or transport monies.

I had to go to work at 17 to contribute to rent and food. I managed to get a job working in a laboratory at the Institute for Pathology at the University of Pretoria. I then enrolled at the technikon to study medical laboratory technology after hours. Classes began at 6.15pm and continued without a break until 10.45pm, at which time our lecturer prayed that we got home safely. A fellow female student and I walked home and arrived at 11.45pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Friday was a night off from classes.

We paid our own fees from our salaries we earned in our full day jobs. We both passed our required basic courses and then specialise­d. Four and a half years later we graduated as qualified medical laboratory technologi­sts. Please can you tell me what education was given to me for free? Dawn Dalby Response to those who objected to my letter: The apartheid government subsidised the education of white children and denied black children a decent education, even if you paid. According to Alistair Boddy-Evans in School Enrollment in Apartheid Era South Africa, “in 1982, the apartheid government of South Africa spent an average of R1,211 on education for each white child and only R146 for each black child. The quality of teaching staff also differed. Roughly a third of all white teachers had a university degree, the rest had all passed the standard 10 matriculat­ion exam. Only 2.3% of black teachers had a university degree and 82% had not even reached matric ... The disparity in teaching experience­d in white and black classrooms and the fact that black people were usually taught in their second (or third) language, rather than their primary one, meant that black children were much more likely to fail the endof-year assessment­s.”

In addition, Boddy-Evans writes that “job reservatio­n in SA kept white-collar jobs firmly in the hands of whites. Employment opportunit­ies for blacks in South Africa were generally manual jobs and unskilled positions.”

I did not write that all white South Africans voted Nat. I said most did, which allowed the Nats a sweeping majority. White South Africans may have bought land but black people who lived on the land before colonialis­m were kicked off. Generation­al white wealth is based on the increasing resale value of this land. The 1913 Natives Land Act opened the door for white ownership of 87% of land, leaving black people to scramble for what was left.

Heather Robertson

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