This is a discussion on sensible and hopefully in-depth education policy. No quips about "Showerhead's lack of a Matric" because that won't help anybody pass. Some of these points are obvious, others aren't so obvious. I hope we can focus on the latter and all sensible comments are appreciated.
INTRODUCTION Obviously our education system is a mess - we don't even have to go into it. Our opposition parties have some proposals on some general principles and first steps which I think will go a long way. Safer schools, qualified teachers, lower teacher to student ratio. I applaud them but I hope we can help to discuss some more in-depth, less obvious solution to education problems.
Agang's Policy: http://agangsa.org.za/pages/education-policyDA Policy: http://www.da.org.za/our_policies.htm?action=view-policy&policy=614COPE's website still needs a lot of work.
THE CURRICULUMFirst, Science. So we've got the qualified teachers and stocked the labs and everything. My question: should Physical Science be one subject or should we separate Physics and Chemistry. I think this exposes a fundamental question relevant to the whole system:-- Are we trying to develop well-roudned and knowledgable citizens (in which case they should be one subject because together they give a powerful, basic description of the physical world) or are we trying to prepare students for an effective varsity career (in which case they should be separate to give more time for students to study and go more in depth in one than the other).
The same question repeats for Biology. If I want to be a game ranger, it is important that I need to know a little bit from all biology, but biology is so vast in scale and scope that in the same class you can get two people with wildly differing opinions on what it is they are studying. If we want to make well rounded students then we should keep it one subject. However, we aren't doing our future doctors any favours by testing population ecology and human impact on the environment as roughly 50% of their grade (which it was this year, in Grade 11).
I think that most of this 'basic' information should be taught earlier on and high school should be the stepping stone to specializing. Firstly because SP is very easy currently and if we make it a tad more sophisticated earlier, hopefully students will be prepared for High School better. Secondly, most people forget this stuff within a decade of matriculation so I don't see the point of spending time and money on what will not help them as soon as possible. Obviously, this is debatable.
Next up: Languages. The DA reckon students should have the right to learn in their language of choice (the constitution adds 'Wherever possible') but I think that's just politicking so as not to offend our highly tribal society. I personally don't think the Afrikaans tribe is doing anybody any favours by allowing their kids to be educated in Afrikaans, and likewise for the Zulu or Venda or whomever (although it really is mostly Afrikaans which is supported across the whole syllabus). English should be the medium of instruction for all subjects at all levels.
Furthermore, I think we should get rid of the 'First Additional Language' category. Majority of students have no interest and simply fail it (despite being brilliant in other subjects) whilst those that have interest could simply learn it somewhere else. The only language taught in school should be English. English literature and all other languages should be separate subjects. I'm not 100% on this idea which I why I hope for vigorous debate on languages. But removing FAL means more teaching time for other subjects and less failing. I doubt it will erode national unity though.
This is not to say we shouldn't value languages and diversity! But I just don't think it's currently a priority such that it should be a compulsory subject. Also, if you want your son to learn Science in Zulu or Afrikaans, go buy a popular science magazine in it. And if there aren't any, well it goes to show that these same societies aren't encouraging science within their own people - why should the state do so then?
Scrap Life Orientation. Almost all of it's topics (from AIDS to Democracy) can be taught in the context of most other subjects.
OTHER THOUGHTSThere was a suggestion from a teacher of mine that our social benefits related to children should be directly linked to school. All students should be given a student ID and stores can be allowed to give discounts to students. If you want child grant it can be facilitated by the school - if the child is not attending school the family gets no grant, etc.
I also suggest we should promote private catering companies to do work in schools. Yes, lots of money, but we produce the most gold in the world and our President steals money to build mansions - I think we can afford investing in our students. In too many schools teachers are responsible for cooking, instead we should have a public private partnership between store owners, caterers and schools. Here's what I envision:-- Shoppers at Pick 'n Pay are given the option to pay a certain percentage of their purchase to the store to help them buy food and what not for impoverished schools. Better than giving the money to the government. The stores also give the food at a discounted price and get to parade as being in support of children to the community.-- Catering companies hire local unemployed to cook proper meals for the children - this should take the burden off of families and also should attract more children to school. (Obviously we need to ensure there is no funny business on subsidized food). Helen Zille came up with the idea that even more than lunch, schools should serve breakfast to provide energy for the rest of the day, and encourage kids to get to school early in the morning.***I'm pretty sure the economics of this plan are probably terrible. But is it fixable?
*******************************Well, that's everything I've got. Pretty meaty, I know, but people are willing to write hundreds of words just to insult Julius Malema on a personal capacity and to read pages worth of trivial debate between atheism and Christianity. Seeing as we're heading to an election year, and we have a few parties that are starting to look like they want to be policy based (e.g Agang, the new Collective for Democracy), why not discuss something relevant, worthwhile, and complex.
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