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The fuse has been lit but the President says all is well.

04 February 2013, 11:07

Education as most people know is in a sorry state and is rated near the bottom even in Africa. That is in spite of its massive budget and numerous investigations as to reasons for this state of affairs.

We now know most of the reasons why the system has failed but not how to fix it.  Outcome Based Education (OBE) is the main culprit and several attempts to modify it and to bring back some of the features of the old system have been introduced but with little success.

It has been in use for so long and teachers have been trained to apply its principles so that is difficult for them to change to a different approach.

But why did the ANC-"experts" decide on it in spite of the fact that it had been a failure everywhere and England got rid of it through an act of parliament  after more than twenty years when they found that 16year olds could not read and write properly and struggled with basic maths ?

It is because the system allows average and below average pupils to pass with relative ease. Another fallacy is that teachers only have to be facilitators , since by using OBE learners discover knowledge and do not need highly qualified teachers . Learners will for example "discover" maths whilst solving problems and the old approach was to teach them maths in order to solve problems.

So thousands of poorly selected and poorly trained teachers were sent out to "facilitate" and all the learners "discovered" was that they had very little knowledge to show for their efforts.

Experienced teachers who complained that the system wasn't working were forced to toe the line and many left as a result and some joined private schools.  Most model-C schools on the quiet kept on using the trusted chalk and talk method where a lot of explaining , repetition and drill was done.

An additional problem was the closing of special or opportunity classes that catered for learners with learning problems or lacking the capacity to benefit from ordinary education. There are large numbers of these "handicapped" children in our society suffering from foetal alcohol syndrome or being mentally impaired because of drug abuse by their mothers during pregnancy or by themselves. They disrupt classes , cause chaos and make successful teaching impossible.

I believe that all learners should be tested and those of more or less similar ability should be grouped together  (streaming) and should be taught together. Children with serious problems should be taught by specially trained teachers like it used to be and for others a little less impaired there should be vocational schools of which there are still a few in operation.

Hundreds of thousands of unfortunate souls drop out of school between Grades 1 and 12 with little chance of getting jobs. They represent the ticking time bomb we all fear and will partake in violent uprisings like we now see all over the country.  

In the mean time the goverment wastes money like water spending millions on Nkandla , sending soldiers to protect corrupt regimes , sponsoring Zimbabwe , Swaziland and Cuba and spending billions on war planes that seldom fly and submarines that will never be used except as curiosities in the dry docks.

If they had appointed competent people on merit in goverment service in stead of incompetent cadres , they could have used the money wasted on consultants to build schools and train teachers .

But in Davos in Switzerland  Zuma grins happily at his audience and tells them that all is fine with our special democracy . And FNB is bullied into submission for using an advertisement the ANC dislikes. 

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