Motshekga is wrong. Education is in crisis

2012-06-23 14:24

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga says the failure of the state to deliver textbooks to some schools before the end of the first half of the school year is “a problem, not a crisis”.

Now we know we have an education crisis in this country.

If leaving South African teachers and learners to their own devices for this long does not qualify as a crisis, we shudder to think what, in the minister’s experience, would constitute one.

It took a non-governmental organisation to take that took the education department to court to get the textbooks.

Under apartheid, millions of South Africans, particularly black South Africans, went to schools where the provision of books was a hit and miss affair.

While unacceptable, it was expected of a government whose stated intention and unequivocal policy was to create a mass of workers who would be no more than hewers of wood and drawers of water.

They endured an education system that was by design meant to create haves and have-nots.

The minister, of all people, should know this, as education was used as a site of the struggle against apartheid inequality and oppression.

Motshekga’s remark is a callous one.

For her to say there is no crisis comes close to apartheid “Justice” Minister Jimmy Kruger saying Steve Biko’s death in police detention left him cold.

Maybe our education minister has become too accustomed to a state that has no qualms about churning out young people into the economy who are at best literate enough to write their names; who are products of an education system that adds little value to their lives or to the economy.

The minister is wrong. We have a crisis. No amount of nonchalance or evasion by the education department can change the fact that when children have to rely on courts to get textbooks it means we have deep-seated problems in our education system.

To the minister it may be about logistics.

But for the millions who saw government’s act as spitting in the faces of the poor who see education as a way out of poverty, this is a state that does not value education any more than the apartheid state did.

At the current rate, South African children will once more be rendered hewers of wood and drawers of water.
This time it is happening under the watch of a popularly elected, former liberation army.

It is a crisis.

In a free South Africa, another Hector Pieterson should not have to die for education in order for Motshekga to accept there is a crisis.

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