When the World Economic Forum revealed that South Africa was the fifth country with the worst quality of education in the world (no 140/144) I cringed with disbelief as to how could this be true.
Surely this couldn’t be true because we produced the most famous statesman in the world. There must be a mistake because we are the richest economy in the African continent. Why do we have a status as one of the world’s leading gold and platinum producers, if we do not pour that money into growing our economy.
What further perturbed me was the fact that Zimbabwe was no 30 which translates that their education system is first rate compared to SA’s. What? Zimbabwe? This couldn’t be true. This is a country plagued by poverty and inequality because the Western world has imposed sanctions of their long ruling president Robert Mugabe. A number of Zimbabweans are fleeing that country and finding refugee in South Africa. Surely Zimbabwe could not have a better education system I said.
But then it dawned on me that despite these challenges, education is something that Robert Mugabe takes very seriously. He is after all an intelligent man with numerous academic degrees and accolades to his name. While we are stuck with a President that fails to fire a minister who did not make sure that textbooks are delivered to schools in her capacity as Minister of Education.
Now I am not blaming Angie Motshekga for the dire state that this country’s education system is in but when leaders who are elected into office fail to carry out simple tasks like these we are in trouble.
Mampele Rampele, Desmond Tutu and Professor Jonathan Jansen have all called on government to fix the ticking time bomb that is education in this country. Instead Zuma replies with an attitude that “we inherited a problem child from the apartheid government which we still trying to rehabilitate.”
Instead of playing the blame game our leaders should be engaging with academics and specialists in the field to try and fix this ailing system. Hire a minister and officials who are there to make change not to spurlge on the latest German luxury car because the ministerial handbook allows them to. Not to rely with a simple “I did not know” when asked why children have no textbooks six months into the school year.
When universities reject students because they are illiterate and cannot count, it’s a reflection that their teachers did a botch job as educators. We need to hire hardworking, dedicated teachers to eviscerate the problem of numeracy and illiteracy in this country.
What is now known as the Marikana massacre is an explain of what happens when a nation is lacking skills, inability to create lucrative job opportunities and quality education not being accessible to most South African’s. This was far more complex than some miners demanding better pay but a reflection of what happens when government fails to better the lives of those who contribute to this country’s economy.
After 18 years of democracy no one is expecting miracles but rather a government that listens to the electorate, delivers on its promises and provide quality education that will translate to the obliteration of poverty, curbing of unemployment and reducing crime.
Therefore government I say to say spare some of the attention you pay to Julius Malema and will start making some headway in tackling SA’s education conundrum…
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