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Disadvantaged and Schooled to Fail

03 January 2013, 07:26

Firstly, as a reader you need to know that I am a product of the Canadian education system, specifically the Quebec Education Department. Our pass rate was 60% out of 7 compulsory subjects (English Lt., English Comp., French Oral, French written, Algebra, Geometry and History) and 3 electives mine were Biology, Chemistry and Physics. 

At age 52 after a successful business career in Canada, I found employment at the University of the North in 1990 and spent the next eleven years attached to the Office of the Vice Chancellor.  What I found disturbing was the number of subjects incoming students were able to gain a matric pass with. Students in Limpopo were not getting a qualification that would allow them to become the best they could be. They were costing the country millions to end up being underqualified when compared to the rest of the world. 

Then along came 1994 and I thought ah! now things will change for the better. When I casually said to the Chairman of Council, why is South  Africa going to implement Outcomes-Based Education across the board. I was informed it was a good system. I am not qualified to judge its merits.  What I do know is that the many Black students I dealt with were from disadvantaged schools and were admitted on marks that should have kept  them out of any university, and those kids coming up behind them would need time and resources to get them up to the level of what were the Model “C”. To throw them together with a single new curriculum, would make many who just couldn’t cope feel inadequate. Learning is not supposed to do that, it is supposed to instil knowledge and confidence.  To rectify the  psychological damage of failure, the pass rate was lowered. Now we have disadvantaged students being further disadvantaged by not meeting the standards required by universities and/or business. 

Now let’s jump to 2012 in Limpopo. This province has the highest density of Black population in the country. We are still dealing with disadvantaged students. They have been deprived of the tools needed to learn and pass…No Books!  For nine months no books! What happens -  mostly blame passing.  Responsibility is not high on the list of qualifications required of holders of public office, in fact frequently adequate qualification and experience are overlooked.  The young people of Limpopo, particularly those in the rural areas require much more of a government that is supposed to be improving their lot in life. 

If this country can fund multi-millions on luxury living for public servants, and more millions on ANC parties, and overseas trips for events that are then not attended, then surely something major can be done, starting at kindergarten level to give these children a chance in life.  After all, that is what the ANC promised and 18 years on. It hasn’t happened.  If you say you care, then show that you do! Make quality education across the country a priority! No more excuses!

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