Friday Rant – Education

I have cherry picked certain statements out of the Minister’s speech and reproduced them below. We are a year on after the speech and I certainly cannot see any change, if anything we (YES, we, as every citizen of South Africa is to blame for allowing this to happen) have seen a further slide into anarchy and mayhem.

If we really cared we would be placing competent persons in the positions of power. If we can fire a President then we can fire anyone. Or was Mbeki deployed to a comfortable retirement? No matter – the fact that we were able to fire him is proof enough that we can act!

See below the quoted sections for my TWISTED take on the pronouncements by Mrs Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education.

Quotes from Mrs Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education’s Speech:

On 11 August 2011, I saw a disturbing editorial in The Star, on riots in Britain. The newspaper called it ‘a timely riot’. It said the protest was not political. “The rioters had no agenda”.

It blamed the unrest on ‘a disaffected criminal fringe made up of people who felt they have no stake in society’. It concluded the burning and looting in the erstwhile colonial empire highlighted ‘the dangers posed by economic inequality and a troubled education system.’

Two questions sprung to mind: How does society produce “a disaffected criminal fringe, made up of people who felt they have no stake in society?” and, “does this ring alarm bells for the SAOU Principal Symposium?” (see 1 below)

This report came in a year we chose to focus on creating a delivery-driven education system that will help improve quality.

Of course, if this was apartheid South Africa, we would not worry about equal education and skills development. In 1945 JN Le Roux of the National Party said: “We should not give the natives any academic education. If we do, who is going to do the manual labour in the community?” (see 2 below)

Commenting on the Basic Education Accord, FEDUSA’s General Secretary, Mr Dennis George, proposed a viable path towards quality learning and teaching:

“We must identify the rotten apples within the system. Ineffective and lazy teachers, corrupt training providers and poorly performing structures must be identified and dealt with.” (see 3 below)

We do have challenges. When we talk quality, we do so aware of the need to improve teachers’ working conditions. Our problems have a history. So, they must be appraised in context.

During a visit to South Africa, Robert McNamara, ex-president of the World Bank, said about the state of education in apartheid South Africa in 1982: “I have seen very few countries in the world that have such inadequate educational conditions. I was shocked at what I saw in some of the rural areas and homelands. Education is of fundamental importance. There is no social, political, or economic problem you can solve without adequate education.” (see 4 below)

We would not have come this far without partnerships, thus the logic of the Basic Education and the National Skills accords. We value our social partners.

The principal is the nerve centre for school improvement. When leadership is strong, even the most challenged schools thrive. But when it is weak, schools fail.

Lastly, allow me to remind the Symposium of this commitment we made when we signed the Basic Education Accord: “All parties agree to work together to change the mindset among teachers, learners and parents in order to rebuild dysfunctional parts of the basic education system and ensure quality education delivery for learners, particularly in poorly-performing schools.” (see 5 below)

Dear Minister – my edits to your speech and answers to your questions:

  1. You are doing quite well so far in producing ‘a disaffected criminal fringe’ – the formula for doing so is right in front of you, Minister. In fact your department has been doing an admirable job in ensuring that swathes of our society feel that they have no stake in it. Of course it rings alarm bells, but only for those principals who are NOT part of the cadre deployment system.
  2. Le Roux should have rather followed the communist way of oppression, but, you cannot deny that the National Party showed you the way dear Minister – denying the youth a quality education makes the populace pliable and dependent upon their political masters and willing to vote for their ‘liberators’ again and again. Effectively the National Party gave you the millions of votes needed to overturn apartheid. What you do to retain your voters trust will be telling, though.
  3. Classic playground transference going on here from Dennis George – The line should have read; “We must identify the rotten apples within the system. Ineffective and lazy politicians, corrupt administration staff and poorly performing structures must be identified and dealt with.”
  4. Again, dear Minister, the answer is front of you – McNamara said; “There is no social, political, or economic problem you can solve without adequate education.” Please NOTE, he said ‘adequate’ and not ‘quality’ – I am afraid that the vast majority of our youth will rate their education as ‘below adequate’
  5. Again, dear Minister, you have forgotten to include yourself, your staff, and the various administration departments chock-full of political deployees in your sweeping statement. In effect you are laying the blame at the lowest echelons of education and not at feet of the functionaries who are the ones farging everything up at the moment.

Stop and think about every school that has had to dig into reserves and increase school fees just to keep standards up. Every single one of those parents will not be granted relief in the form of a tax rebate. Angie has created a tax upon a tax and is hitting the educated people hard – could this be seen as a reparation tax?

A hat tip to Ramon Thomas for the inspiration to write about the poor state of education after his tweet to me last night:

Address at 16th #SAOU School Principal Symposium by Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education @ #edchatsa #fb
about 16 hours ago via webReplyRetweetFavorite