Section 29 of the Constitution of South Africa includes a right to education. It states that everyone has the right to a basic education, including adult and further education. The state must make education progressively available and accessible to all.
We have the money and we have the government that allocates the largest part of government expenditure to education. It’s not about money, but a lack of vision, political will, and commitment by you and me as citizens. Despite these resources, our education system is still the worse on the entire African continent.
The standard of education in South Africa is too low and with the new curriculum, the quality of the matric pass has been sacrificed at the expense of quantity. Students who don’t make the grade to pass primary and secondary class examinations are pushed through the grades and most of them entering university are ill prepared and lacking the basic reading, writing, comprehension and numeracy skills required at university level.
Effective education in a school depends on the quality of the teachers. It is the intent, energy and commitment of the teachers that are the indicators of quality, rather than the qualifications and years of experience.
The quality of people teaching in government schools is scary. South Africa did not have professional teachers, “we have workers” who are not high level professionals”.
It is shocking, despite being qualified on paper, many of the country’s teachers do not understand their subjects or how to teach them. It defeats the purpose of education which is that the pupils need to learn for themselves how to do the work.
We are not producing quality students for universities. It is clear to me that we have the wrong people teaching our children. We are still not attracting the best and the brightest into teaching. In fact, we are training students who often they themselves know only of dysfunctional schools and the lack of discipline in their own experience.
Attend any graduation ceremony and watch the students from the medicine, law and accounting faculties walk across the stage to get their degrees. They are all excited, enthusiastic and full of energy. Then watch the education students traipse across the stage. They are slow moving and depressed and lacking in energy and enthusiasm.
Teacher accountability is critical, otherwise we won’t succeed. When teachers lack commitment there has to be consequences. Until the incompetent teachers are fired, our children’s education will remain a disaster.
Sadly the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) does not encourage teachers to pay more attention to their job or improve the quality of teaching they offer or our incompetent African National Congress led government will do nothing to solve the problem. Teachers in South Africa are under worked and overpaid.
We still have a long way to go to make sure that we prepare young people for matric exams in such a way that they derive the necessary skills that are articulated in the curriculum.
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