Einstein's genius, Darwin's exact plodding scientific mind and Tolstoi's literary gifts have all passed me by. Wonder why? According to Benjamin Franklin "The gifts of the intellect proceed directly from God and man cannot prevent their unequal distribution" Well, I do and I don't quite agree with the good fellow. Yes there are and will always be, people of enormous talent and genius. Mozart a child prodigy was born into a musical background, where all his talents and genius were furthered and pushed. Einstein I am sure, came from a family where learning was prized and held high. Charles Darwin would never have arrived at his world stopping observation's if he had been born into an illiterate family. So we come to the first important point, literacy and background (here I mean respect for learning ) do count.
As we are struggle to find our way out of a Post Apartheid and colonial heritage, equal opportunity/education must be one of the most important keys. Please note, equal opportunity, does not mean equal outcome. The law, cannot inject ability.The law can also not command parents to take an interest in their school -going children's school work, an enormously important factor in learning.
When the law starts trying to make everyone equal, grotesque things start happening. See the ANC's attempts to equalize education, when standards are dropped so that "everybody passes. " Accomplishment has been abandoned for pressing one's bottom to the school bench for x-years and coming out with zilch meaningful achievement.
Equal opportunity means that schools function well with motivated teachers , in a supportive and friendly environment. Teaching materials must be there and access to good books and computers must be available. This is all a far cry from the dumbing down policies of the ANC. Blunt Blade Nzimande of higher education and his counterpart for basic education , are educational disasters on two legs. When the minister of basic education promised, post scandal, to send books to the Limpopo kids who have no desks, no schoolbooks, mud-huts for classrooms so that "they can catch -up on their own", the circle really closed in my mind, as I thought,"this woman really does not understand a thing"
The concept's of LIFE LONG LEARNING and ADULT EDUCATION, where one can go back and plug in the holes or catch up on new developments are still new to us in SA, but need to be developed. I never hear such words coming from our higher or lower education ministers. So much for visionary thinking.
And so, in the end, we shall come to the beginning, LITERACY! Literacy and equal opportunity are the keys. We will not always produce Mozarts, Bill Gates and Eisteins, but we will build a fairer and more equal society.