Concerned, but not alarmed

2015-01-11 15:00

I am concerned, not alarmed, by the drop in the pass rate. I am concerned, but not alarmed, by the number of kids who did not even make matric and who add to the high rate of youth unemployment with their minimal skills.

I am concerned, but not alarmed, by the poor maths and science ­results. We have to be the best to compete globally.

We need a high level of skills to develop as a nation. We have to fight Ebola and Aids, and look at southern skies through our own ­telescopes built by our own scientists, and we need to make our own contribution to citizenship. We live in a scientific and technological world, while we also stress language acquisition, dignity and common humanity unaffected by ­inequalities.

I am concerned, but not alarmed, by the reports of cheating. There should be none. Systems must be enhanced.

The Annual National Assessments, poor as they show our reading and counting to be, are evidence that the department is stressing ­foundations of learning.

Get the basics right early on, preferably at early childhood ­development level as the national planning commission tells us, and quality is guaranteed right through the system. Tell teachers where to be on which dates, give them workbooks and they will avoid many of the mistakes of outcomes-based education. Still, we need ­critical thinking.

While we need to study further, at university or Further Education and Training level, even a bachelor’s pass does not guarantee admission to the few places available. We have to build more institutions if we are to develop and grow as a nation.

The role of communities and parents remains crucial – whether to find study space for pupils or to put pressure on school principals and departmental officials. Parents must become more involved with their children on a daily basis.

Teachers have to rise to the occasion. Despite legitimate grievances, despite much inequality and real poverty, teachers are the front line of liberation. They have to be role models to the young and encourage their academic, sports and cultural pursuits. The voice of pupils, and increasing participation, depends on the teacher.

So while there is much to be done, we are also slowly making progress. Slowly we are getting there and realising the potential of our young.

Bloch is visiting adjunct professor at the Wits School of Governance

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