Whilst the atrocities of Apartheid linger, I have to say my bit in regards to the ongoing belief that Apartheid is still the reason for the total collapse in our Education system here in South Africa. The following observations refer only to where I live in Gauteng as I cannot speak for what goes on in the Western Cape or Limpopo for that matter.
My children are at a Public School in the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg and the following remarks come from watching a pattern developing over the last four years.
My eldest child is in Grade 7 and we have been very involved with his school career, from academic and sports pretty much since the start. I started wondering why certain friends of his were battling back in Grade 4 and have watched quite closely to see if my ‘opinion’ could become actual fact.
We are fortunate that the school provides all textbooks, has good sporting facilities, good teachers and a strong Principal. All of this being an important foundation for any school to succeed. So, if all of this is available, why are a number of children still failing?
It is evident that there is a huge gap when it comes to ‘homework ethic’. This, the school has tried to correct by ensuring that even the Grade R children receive a small amount of homework which has to be completed over a period of time. Thus, creating a ‘Homework routine’.
Is it working you ask? Yes, however, not in all cases. Why Not? Well it seems that the onus is on the parents to ensure that their children complete their homework and unless you have this involvement, children will be children and they will go play rather than getting what needs to be done out of the way. If the Homework is continually not completed, a ‘Demerit system’ has been introduced.
So now we have parents complaining that the children have too much work. Not really, as it is more that the parents seem to think that it is the teachers jobs to do all the work in school hours as they, as parents are far too busy to be ‘involved’ in the education of their own flesh and blood. It is often the case that some children are not able to complete the work in the allocated time and need to finish off at home. Frequently, the homework given is merely revision of the lessons and if it is not completed, the children will battle when it comes time for cycle tests. Many households have both parents out at work that return home late at night. This is not an excuse; it is a simple matter of instilling discipline in the child and following it up daily with the question of ‘have you done your Homework’?.
My next observation involves whether the parents pay school fees or not. It is understandable that not everyone can afford the monthly fee and many children’s fees are subsidised in full.
I have now developed an issue with this, as I have observed that a number of my child’s friends whose fees are subsidised in full, lack any parental involvement in their education. How can there be any commitment unless one actually pays a small portion towards your child’s education, no matter how little. We have cases where the school has sent letters home, called the parents in to discuss marks or the total lack of ‘homework ethic’, or the number of Demerits that have been ‘racked up’, and still the parents do absolutely nothing. What do they care, the world owes them and this mentality is passed on to their children.
So how can the children failing in this case, be the fault of Apartheid. Yes, there is a right to education, however with so few good teachers and schools out there, the mindset needs to change and people need to understand that education is a privilege. It is the responsibility of those same parents who were actual victims of Apartheid to ensure that their children grab the opportunity with both hands and ensure that they do their absolute best. And unless this mindset changes, it does not matter what our Government does to try and improve the education system, the children will not succeed in life.