Dear Mr Lesufi, what example are you setting?

2018-01-26 11:52

A LETTER TO MR LESUFI CONCERNING HOERSKOOL OVERVAAL

Sir,

I am a teacher from another province at a high school that serves approximately 1 000 learners. The language of learning and teaching at the school is English. The 50 or so teachers at the school are certainly a racial mix; perhaps not strictly demographic, but then I don’t want to denigrate my colleagues there by rating them as Indian, white, Coloured, African or other. The learners are majority African.

I am trying to imagine what would happen if we were ‘forced’ to accept 55 Afrikaans speaking learners, even if we were given two Afrikaans speaking educators. Those two Afrikaans speaking educators would have to teach nine subjects in Grade 8 – and you have a problem right there in terms of timetabling. 

Yes, we have some members of staff who could assist them, but they would not be teaching their specialities. Would you expect a Geography teacher who has some fluency in Afrikaans to teach Mathematics? I certainly could not offer any help, since I am only qualified to teach in English; I could teach in isiZulu (yes, I really could, though no one seems interested in espousing that particular issue), but not in Afrikaans. 

By the way, how are we going to welcome these two new members of staff in a staffroom where English and isiZulu are the main languages spoken? And how are these Afrikaans speaking learners going to fare among learners who speak mainly isiZulu, and some English?

I have to ask, with the greatest of respect, have you ever taught in a high school? And how many years ago was that? A single class in high school does not have one – or maybe two – educators. A Grade 8 or Grade 9 class has up to nine different teachers, because teaching requires specialization at high school, unless of course, you are not interested in content, but simply making a point.

I was very impressed with the determination you showed last year to root out sexual predators in schools. I have a personal interest in that issue, since my adopted son was sexually harassed by a male teacher when he was in Grade 9 at high school. Nasty stuff – do you know that in the province where I teach there were more than 9 000 girls of high school age who became pregnant in 2016? 

I admired your determination, but I wonder if you really understand the extent of the problem; not that it matters, since you seem to be championing another cause this year.

(I have pursued the matter of my adopted son for more than five years, with the Dept. of Education, and also with the Office of the Public Protector. Funny how no one seems interested. One of the officials I complain about is quite high up, close to the MEC’s office… perhaps that explains the ‘lack of interest’. Still, I keep plugging away, in the hope that someone will eventually realize that we are talking about the future of our children.)

Oh, and if you don’t mind me saying, SADTU is not such a good ally in this new cause. I am a fully paid up member, but I don’t claim to be in good standing, since I have tried a few times to be taken off their books, but it seems like they need my contribution too much. If SADTU members are protesting outside Hoerskool Overvaal, shouldn’t you be asking why there are not in the classes they are supposed to be teaching?

Anyway, back to the language issue. Stones, petrol bombs, booing; what are these images teaching the children at Hoerskool Overvaal? Are you not a little bit worried that they might be getting the wrong message? Err… it is your fault, by the way, you decided not to accept a court ruling… and what is that teaching the children? 

Last year you seriously impressed me by taking on an issue that is (horribly) close to my heart; this year, I’m not so sure. Can I appeal to you to focus on what is truly important? Education, at least in government schools, is shambolic, (145th out of 147 in Maths and Science). What you do today shapes the leaders of tomorrow. What sort of an example are you really giving?

Thank you for listening.

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