OPINION: Our learning spaces must empower our society

2017-03-16 06:03
opinionlukhanyo mangona

opinionlukhanyo mangona

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On Friday, February 25, I spent my afternoon in a productive manner, at a time when most folks generally take the afternoon as winding down time.

Earlier in the week I had happened upon a notice from the folks at Inkululeko In Mind, a Pan-Africanist and Black Consciousness youth movement that seeks to liberate the mind of the African child through seminars, poetry and study groups.

They hold their discussions on the last Friday of every month. The notice screamed: “How can we integrate libraries, schools and community”.

As a person who has a secret love affair with the functionality of all three tenets of society, I hobbled to the event.

When I first saw the notice, I had mused that these little rascals have put the proverbial finger-on-the-pulse and appraised the establishment.

That they had put on their thinking caps and yanked a stick on the social problem.

Whilst listening in on the conversation, I thought it was proper to diagnose why there is no synergy in our educational institutions.

When you work in these circles, you hear the rhetoric of the need to strengthen the working relationship between these three institutions but what actually happens leaves much to be desired.

I think it is proper to first diagnose the goings-on in the relationship of these institutions.

We need to look first at the situational analysis of education.

These are the parents who form part of the community institution. Last week Minister Pravin Gordhan gave education a lion’s share of the budget allocation as has been the tradition in our country.

However, the question is whether the shareholder get a return on investment for the money.

Do we listen to and give value to the shareholders.

In any company, shareholders jealously guard their investment to ensure a good return.

Parents sheepishly walk into schools with a cap-in-hand, as if asking for alms. We need to ask ourselves why this is the case for the shareholders, instead of as proud shareholders to check in on their investment.

Schools have always enjoyed the historic role of moulding society.

The folks who are manning those spaces have always been afforded the dignity and respect they deserve because of the enormity of the responsibility that sits on their shoulders.

I empathise with these professionals because they are treated unfairly by district officials.

They are made to work under unbearable conditions, insufficient learning and teaching tools notwithstanding.

We need to ask what kind of teaching cadre we have in our education. Also we need ask the questions around the issues of agency. Do we have activist teachers coming out of academia? Why there seems to be a dying flame of educational passion.

Is this cadre willing to reach out and be of service to the shareholders?

My favourite on this love affair with these three is the libraries.

It is very important to be grateful for the increase in the number of libraries. But, are our libraries welcoming environments.

Libraries are spaces where people, especially the youths are there to explore knowledge.

They are spaces to facilitate economic participation for citizens. Our libraries are spaces where people engage with librarians in acquiring knowledge.

As activists we always imagined libraries as organised mess with people acquiring knowledge with librarians responding passionately with their knowledge needs.

The constant policing of our library spaces with security guards is a hindrance, especially to young people who want to share information.

Engaging on this critical question raised by these youth is never a simple task, but we have put some pointers regarding this.

First there needs to be a genuine attempt to ensure synergy in the working relationship between these institutions.

We need to change the rhetorical speak to genuine action if we are to arrest the crisis of Black education.

There also needs to be a sense of ownership of our institutions. These institutions cannot operate as if they are doing us a favour.

We need to shine a light on the quality and agency of the professionals that are manning these spaces.

These control measure should be spaces like School Governing Bodies that are innovative and thought generating. Another quality control measure is to install a local library committee that will give community voice and advice for professionals working in library spaces. Their current top down approach is not working for community interests.

.Mangona manages Masifundisane Tutoring Service(MaTS), an entity that specialises in tutoring Mathematics and Science to African children.

Contacted him on 0817793730.

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