Words of wisdom for youth ahead of election

2014-05-05 00:00

Eric Ngcobo has a message of caution for South Africa’s young voters: “Just because we have freedom does not mean everything must be free”.

As a multi-award winning author, Ngcobo said he was “proud” of the peaceful route chosen by South Africa, but said he was concerned at the lack of calls for “hard work” in this campaign season.

“The youth must work hard beyond what is expected if they want a future,” said Ngcobo.

But the Umlazi resident — who grew up on the farms in New Germany — said the education system had “let down the African child”.

“The education of black children needs to be improved. We are not where I thought we would be,” he said. “The education received in the township schools is not the same as that in the former Model C and private schools.

Teachers at township schools behave badly and officials overlooking the township schools will send their children to Model C or private schools and then neglect their responsibilities. Bantu education was terrible but what we have allowed education in the township and rural schools to become is shocking”.

The wordsmith, slight of frame, grey and well groomed, said language was the foundation of life, and that grammar was fundamental.

“Grammar is not being taught in our township schools, yet it is the foundation of communication and empowerment. Education is the key to our future. Without this core pillar we will not innovate, grow and create a country with a viable future,” he said.

While having made up his mind on who to vote for, Ngcobo admitted he was “fairly apolitical” until election season.

“If we look at a country like Japan which has no real natural resources it has turned education into its resource which has resulted in the country becoming a global leader in geo-politics, technology and innovation. Their schools have a minimum pass rate of 80% and open six days a week for 10 hours a day. Our pass mark is 35%.

“The Japanese exist in the high performance zone. Schooling forms the basis for a person’s future. If we set our bar low we will not be high performers. The Japanese excel to make great products because they expect themselves to produce the best. If we use our same pass basis as a measure of national performance our products being produced would be sub-standard,” said Ngcobo.

Ngcobo said it was “generally worrying that high ranked officials and politicians are involved” in corruption, creating a perception that money meant for service delivery was stolen: “But I still don’t see any other issue facing this country being greater than education.

“I also see more young Africans in university and technikons. I appreciate their desire to learn but they need to excel above what the pass rate is. Many of the youth believe freedom means everything is for free.

Hew said he would vote for a “party that can make a difference … whether they are popular or not.”

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