The F-word: When conspiracy theories ring true

2013-09-02 10:00

There is a school of thought that says the South African government has a vested interest in keeping the majority in the same material position as they have always been.

According to this view, for as long as the number of poor people remains the same, the governing party will always have something to sell the majority of the electorate: hope for a better life soon.

The theory goes that once the material conditions have been sorted out, the people will become preoccupied by what presently seems like issues that have nothing to do with them, such as why the president spends more than R200?million of state money on his private home.

The governing party’s collusion with the adult Cosas, otherwise known as the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union, to undermine the chances of black children attaining an education that would make them as little dependent on the state as possible, supports the theory that the state and governing party are half-hearted about decisively changing the plight of the poorest of the poor.

The latest such collusion has been the basic education ministry deciding against competency testing for those who grade matric exams.

This is because Sadtu does not like it as some of their members would fail the test.

It seems very logical that a teacher must display understanding of the subject they are entrusted with grading.

It becomes even more vital if the grade the teacher gives has a bearing on the learner’s entire future, including what career they may follow.

Furthermore, it removes the subjective nature of who is chosen to grade and thereby takes power from the principal, who could choose to recommend their incompetent friends or even teachers who do not even teach matric, as is required, and punish competent teachers they happen to dislike for any odd reason.

But the state would rather nurture the ANC-Sadtu relationship than do what is in the best interests of South African children.

It may or may not be their intention, but the connivance by the governing party in return for electoral and material support perpetuates the gloomy prospects that many children are forced to endure schools where Sadtu holds sway.

Sadtu and the ANC have become two sides of the same coin when it comes to ensuring that 19 years into democracy, South African children, mainly black and poor, remain in an education system that will still make them hewers of wood and drawers of water.

Young people leaving schools without any useful skills and destined to spend their youth on street corners, is one example of the state perpetuating the apartheid regime’s Bantu education state of affairs.

We could demand that the governing party and the union put the children’s interests first but that would be a futile exercise akin to asking cattle to vote on whether a traditional ceremony should take place.

The ANC and Sadtu are never going to give up their power and privileges voluntarily.

It is parents who must put a stop to all this nonsense and ensure that their disadvantaged children have better prospects than they did.

Providing social grants for vulnerable children and study loans for tertiary students who have the potential but do not have the means is a gigantic step towards averting hunger and giving families hope.

But this is diminished by a state that provides basic education that is so poor that the child cannot benefit from the funding the state provides at the tertiary level.

The state must either get serious about the education it provides to the historically marginalised to enable them to create a better life for themselves, or contend seriously with the view that it has merely warehoused black interests while freeing the erstwhile oppressors to do what apartheid limited them from doing.

It is as basic as that.

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