Africa’s education standards too low.” These were the words of US talk show
queen, Oprah Winfrey and the title of a recent article I read.
I have to agree with her. Our current academic standards, sadly, only require a
30% average to pass. Yet most politicians preach that more people should go
into business, assist with the growth of our economy and become economically
independent as a country. Can we achieve this without addressing our deteriorating
most young men and women take these words, spoken by politicians, seriously (especially
when they look at our country’s unemployment statistics). I do not have a
problem with these young people’s desire to become professional business people
but I do have a problem with the government setting such low standards and
communities that accept these standards.
after year we compromise on quality for quantity, an educational quicksand that
we are finding ourselves battling to get out of.
are singing meaningless high notes of increased pass rates, allowing ourselves
to become victims of populism and as a result we are building a society of
underperforming professionals. Of course, funds are set aside to develop and
assist these emerging business people and professionals but the hard work
necessary to succeed in the respected fields is not worked on.
we put less than half the effort required in our work but expect success. What
are we saying? Are we saying that we agree with these standards, are we saying
that these low standards will not affect us in anyway? Are we not forgetting
that these same children will be the leaders of tomorrow? Are we not realising
how already the education system is affecting most of our municipalities and
the majority of our children are in government or model C schools and are
subjected to these utterly pathetic standards. Are we saying quality is only
for the rich? Did all those who fought for freedom hand it over to the wrong
people? Did we wish to be in a position of setting equal and higher standards
only to set them lower?
saw a lot of young people on Twitter
and Facebook write about how offended
they are that an “American came to insult us in our country.” The same American
who built and invested in a school that produced a hundred percent pass rate
and 188 distinctions out of our own underestimated children. Oprah Winfrey said
that “South Africa’s education standards are too low”. Oprah was responding to
a question on how South Africa could learn from the success of her Leadership
Academy for Girls. She went on to say that we underestimate the disadvantaged
and therefore set lower standards for them. “Business people can’t operate
successfully if they function with 30% to 40%,” she added. And yet this simple
thing seems to elude most of us.
government invests millions in school buildings. In Gauteng alone, 36 schools
will supposedly be opened this term (13 are already opened). Perhaps, this is a
way of compensating for poor standards. Yes, the burden will be lifted from
other schools and crowded classrooms will be addressed. This, in effect, will
allow room for individual attention and the pass rate might increase, but the
quality of education will most likely remain the same (which makes the entire
exercise of new schools futile). If the standards don’t improve, students will
still struggle to gain access to tertiary education. Most will then go to FET
colleges where the expectations for students have been adjusted downwards. The
colleges will graduate professionals with poor work ethics and standards.
is not the FET colleges that I have a problem with. Most of these colleges are
very good. I am, however, concerned with our indirect messages to the world and
the youth: that it is acceptable to settle for less even when the best is
possible. That the government will always somehow find something or some help
for you. This is a bit kind of mentality is will not help us as a country that
promises so much excellence and with such high expectations of economic wealth
our lower education sets students up for failure. Most of the students hardly
make it through their first year. Then most of these students decide to start a
small business: a tuck-shop, a fast food store, a hair salon or fruit and
veggie shop. Six months to a year those small businesses fail and they have to
rent out space to foreigners from a country with a better education system and
standard, a country that taught them great work ethics. These foreigners then
take our same exact idea, product or even service and make it ten times more
successful. Then we incite violence resulting in xenophobic attacks fuelled by
jealousy and groceries are taken from their shops.
a lot of our little went to school for the first time. Will the situation12
years from today be what we expected? Will they graduate from matric having
learnt hard work, determination and that competitiveness which is required in
universities and the workplace? Or will they become yet another group of pupils
that our government has set up for failure? Will they just be yet another group
of government’s dependants serving as a burden to our economy?
if our educational system remains the same, then sadly the future looks bleak
for our young ones.