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Elimu
 
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Affirmative Action & Education

08 January 2014, 09:34

This won't be long at all. There is a conceptual and logical problem with encouraging a purely race based affirmative action policy in education, from the level of teachers to the level of students. I do believe everybody, from the DA with their 'BEE for jobs not millionaires' to the ANC with their liberation struggle to Julius and his folks who just want black people to be awesome and perfectly well off when those darned whites just give up the land.
The whole point of BEE is that because of Apartheid there were people who were really put into a sticky wicket, undeservingly for most. Most of them are black - so it makes sense that we base an economic policy to fix these poverty-stricken lives on race... right?
Okay, so let's assume a particular university has 200 Medical student slots. There are students from all over the country competing to get into this school. But our government have decided we need to help those who have potential but are disadvantaged - Race based affirmative action to the rescue. So we take it to the extreme and give like... 20 white people seats and a few indians too. The rest are reserved for the blacks, the supposedly disadvantaged people.
But here's a massive problem: now there's the black guy who studies at Maritzburg College or Westville Boys High, is richer than 3/4 of the white students on the bench and he is competing against a poor black child whose parents weren't able to break out of the system and poverty cycle with '94. Both born frees, both blacks, but worlds apart. If we really want to help this poorer child who has potential to get a job and go back to help his community, we can't make him compete against the (forgive this word) - coconut. It's just not fair, it's like making him compete against the whites of old. A black child who goes to a former Model C school is a beneficiary of Apartheid in the same way white children today are constantly told they have inherited 'white privilege.'
So before we even get to the other moral aspects of it, it's already a stupid policy in that we won't be helping poor blacks to break the cycle of poverty - we'll just be giving coconuts (like me) and easier ride! And then, if there's a black child and a white child that go to the same school and have a reasonably similar source of income - how can you really judge them differently. That's just flat out wrong. Furthermore, is a poor white or poor Indian or poor coloured worth less than a poor black child? This is not the country I want to grow up in.
No, if we really want to help anybody we need to identify schools which are underperforming and, first and foremost fix them up. Then we need to identify areas where children are probably going to struggle to do better. It's a fact that if you have the internet and tons of books and rich, educated parents, and another kid just has his textbook and his teacher's best guess, and you are getting within ten percent of each other... that child is probably a better student than you (regardless of either of your races). You can't go to a top-notch school and give us mediocre results and then trust on Affirmative Action to get in, you're cheating the child who really needed the benefit of the doubt.
It's really not that difficult to identify schools - and the money we spend will be saved in making sure only the best get in, come back and help those communities and plus I'd be willing to pay money to ensure we aren't being hypocrites.
Finally, we need to make sure that when it comes to teaching, only the best will do. I would think the point of reconciliation and transformation is that those people who used to teach the segregated white kids, and those fantastic administrators who built world famous schools, should now relocate to the townships and start teaching the children of their domestic workers - net so goed as hulle hulle eie kinders gewys het (just as well as they taught their own children). Isn't that better pay back (literally, paying back) than just denying them a job and smiling at them as they fly off to Australia?
We could offer them incentives and offer them all the money, and offer to not interfere with their plans for the schools (provided they aren't crazy) and then sit back and watch the former oppressed be given the same treatment as the former advantaged.
That's real transformation, not this ostrich that we have now which has wings but can't actually fly. Fix Affirmative Action in schools, it's not helping anybody! And fix the standards because anything they could achieve in Apartheid schools we can achieve today, granted you give us half a chance with decent teachers, infrastructure and textbooks!
Amandla!Open Opportunity Society for All (or Yay Cape Town!)Viva Comrades! Black Empowerment.Agang (Build!)--- other minor parties can insert their phrases in here too ---

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