Constructive engagement needed

2015-09-24 06:00

THE vandalism at UKZN by protesting students is a reflection of the dire state that our educational institutions are in.

The cost of the destruction caused by the rampaging students is estimated at R32 million.

There is also speculation of criminal elements involved in the mayhem, but this has to be investigated. The matric examinations last year were marred by mass copying, with limited headway being made in terms of investigations and bringing the perpetrators to book.

Some schools implicated in the mass copying have hijacked investigations by the Department of Education officials.

Pupils in a school in Ndwedwe, where investigations were supposed to commence, protested with teachers and departmental officials vehicles were stoned. They were eventually rescued by security personnel.

These situations are a typical case of the tail wagging the dog which can easily spiral out of control if left unchecked.

Stats South Africa have released figures of 100 000 pupils who fell pregnant in the 2014 academic year.

Life orientation as a subject in schools will have to be questioned, as the curriculum is designed to educate learners, among other things, about teenage pregnancies. Could the child support social grant be a motivating factor for learners wanting to fall pregnant?

This is an untenable situation which is negatively impacting on our limited finances, taking into account approximately six million citizens in South Africa are taxpayers.

Constructive engagement between the university management and students at UKZN is imperative.

Students have a right to agitate to receive the best education possible.

They need financial assistance however, they have to acknowledge the fact that there are limitations to the amount of assistance that government can afford through the National Financial­ Aid Scheme. Students are protesting a new policy to award top performing students first. This policy seems fair as students who perpetually fail are blocking the system for other capable students.

Is there something in our education system that is creating this sense of entitlement for students wanting to enter tertiary institutions?

Could it be a case where students who fail have their marks upwardly adjusted giving them a false sense of hope?

This could possibly be one of the multitude of reasons to explain the instability and destruction at UKZN.

Vijay Surujpal

Via email

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