Driving the future

2013-03-14 00:00

THIS week my nephew passed his driving licence test. Next week he’s set aside time to apply for admission to tertiary studies.

A proud South African born-free, he is sliding into adult life using the no-frills access of a wholesome country life.

Like his uncle’s village days some years earlier, his also come without the choice of private schools, violin lessons, underwater polo and other big-city perks.

Remarkably, we got by without the extras — both in my generation and, it appears, in his.

The celebration for me is in the conversations we have managed on everyday stuff. It is easy to form perceptions of what may become of our youth, depending on who you listen to and the views they have on public schools.

We do what uncles and nephews have done for generations. We talk about bikes, his girlfriends, his career dreams and now and again, the state of the land’s affairs. With strong and reasoned spice.

Schooled entirely on outcomes-based education, I cannot judge his algebraic capacity, mostly because my own Model C education failed to inspire me to any great heights on that subject.

Along with other nervous family members, I await the matric examination at the end of this year to judge his 12 years of preparation for it.

For now, I get the sense he knows how to use his calculator, iPad, electronic toothbrush and common sense with equal skill.

While he relies somewhat on state institutions, such as the high school in the town, to acquire these basic skills, he also taps into the old vault of wisdom on offer from family and community.

This is where our secret weapons are loaded and sharpened: the strength of the circles around us and the willingness of a community to look out for our best interests.

Shaping the role my nephew will play in future, not only depends on the abilities of those who deliver textbooks and the knowledge they contain.

There is an onion of layers around the textbooks he studies from. At every interaction with those that peel their layer, his confidence is strengthened and his role gets better defined.

He becomes a man through everything he absorbs from his community — those who live in the direct space around him as well as those he invites into it, by virtue of trust and relations.

I contribute from far away, but my views on life, society and the future we dream of add to the pile of information he needs to consider.

With the lion’s share of the 2013 national budget once again going to education, there can be no confusion about its importance on the macro agenda.

The investment beyond my tax money into a system that fights a poor reputation and delivery issues also goes into the fibre that stitches it.

The granny sweating at the kitchen table to make sense of a geography assignment; the lift clubs that deliver hungry children home from a day’s learning; many thankless heroes who do not qualify for the victor ludorum trophy at the end of the year.

May we all find our link in the chain that educates the future of this country. And may the powers we appoint spend our trust (and tax money) wisely.

There is a new driver on the road and he’s heading for the future.

— Fin24.

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