Is Africa not worth studying?

2012-06-22 07:44

When will education in this country become relevant to the needs and aspirations of an African child?

Some of you might make statistical arguments as to why an African-centred education is not desirable in a global economy. But all these arguments are nonsense.

Since some quarters of our society see red every time it is said science and technology should be taught in our languages, for now let us exclude science from the discussion. Is there any other reason why the rest of the subjects are not taught in our languages?

Is there any reason why economics content is not based on the African economies? Pupils still learn the economic histories of European and American societies.

What is wrong with providing an economic history of Africa? Wouldn’t that give pupils a better chance to be good in the subject since what is being taught is what they know and can identify with? Wouldn’t that allow them to further develop economic theories when they reach varsity level since all these would be part of their everyday lives?

Are you telling me that twenty years into democracy we have failed to make changes even in small matters like these? When a Mosotho child is taught history at school and is told about all the European figures and states, none of which they know, how alienated is that child?

I must say that our government has let me down when it comes to education. They have gone all out to import education models that have not been tried anywhere else in the world.

Higher Education seems to be worse off than Basic Education in its content.

I am currently a student at Unisa studying for a BA with majors in Linguistics and Theory of Literature. Initially I had wanted to major in Sesotho (African Languages), but after my first semester I dropped the subject. I was raised in a Basotho society and studied Sesotho first language at school.

So I expect studying Sesotho at varsity to be in line with the level of education I got back in school. The subject was not even close to being Sesotho. In fact, it looks to me like one of those “learn to communicate in Sesotho” types. For starters, none of the content is in Sesotho! None of the content is about Basotho.

Everything about the subject is English.

The lead lecturer is Afrikaans. I do not care how educated you might be, no person from another culture can learn Sesotho and end up knowing more Sesotho than I do.

What is the result of this madness? It leads to fewer and fewer African students studying Africa and its people.

It leads to more and more African students failing these subjects because they have absolutely nothing to do with Africa and its people.

Everything about our education system is foreign to me as a student. Linguistics, theory of literature, African philosophy; nothing is remotely African about these subjects. Are you telling me that Africans do not have ancient (classic) languages to be studied? That Africa did not have any form of civilisation before the arrival of settlers? Are you telling me that Africa does not have any form of philosophy worthy of study?

And guess what, I am dropping these subjects as well. They just do not appeal to me. In fact, I will go as far as to say they teach our children lies because they propose that Africa does not have anything worthy of study.

Having said that, a question must be directed at the ANC, as the liberating movement.

Does the ANC see nothing wrong in this system? If memory serves, South Africa has never had a white minister of education, so why do black ministers of education find this acceptable?

By extension, can we honestly say we are surprised when African students do not take an active interest in education? The few academics we have heard of who have fought for change in education have all been conveniently “redeployed”. Where are the Professor Malegapuru Makgobas of this world?

I am left wondering if South Africa is not a curse to the rest of the continent. Our democracy seems to have come at too high a price for the African child who must live in a democratic South Africa.

Some of us learnt biology, geography, accounting, general science, maths and other subjects in Sesotho in the old Qwaqwa.

Yet today, people claim science and technology are too advanced for our languages.

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