Mopeli an embodiment of education

2019-11-20 06:01
Tshegofatso Leeuw Social Observer

Tshegofatso Leeuw Social Observer

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The late Dr Tsiame Kenneth Mopeli, former chief minister of Qwaqwa, lived to embrace education as a value in life.

Testimony is the many graduates to emerge from institutions in the former homeland. Three teacher training colleges in the former homeland also add to this testimony.

Mopeli was born in Namahadi in 1930. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) at the University of South Africa in 1954.

He worked as a teacher and radio announcer for the South African Broadcasting Corporation. His qualifications bear testimony that he valued education. What would it take for the current government to study and implement the Mopeli Education Policies?

In 1984 I had to leave Bloemfontein for education opportunies in Qwaqwa. I witnessed many ethnic groups interacted at the University of the North Uniqwa (currently the University of the Free State Qwaqwa). To me it immediately demonstrated that Dr Mopeli believed in quality education and the role it plays human development.

One could go as far as saying through education he contributed to advancing the liberation struggle during the apartheid era and beyond.

The key policy points still relevant to the current government include developing human capacity to empower people and bridge inequality. This may be attained through, among others, developing and providing cutting-edge programmes, supplying graduates with knowledge and skills relevant to the present socio-economic state.

In this article, the author traverses the history of the liberation struggle through the eyes of those who cared to write about it, who walked and lectured at the then University of the North campus in Qwaqwa.

It is argued that, while the reason for the existence of the former was to build capacity among the civil servants and the provision of teaching qualifications for the latter (colleges), those higher education institutions made far-reaching contributions in dealing with oppression and advancing the liberation struggle during the apartheid era and beyond.

Some activists, being progressive and conscious lec­turers, challenged the oppressive tendencies. These include the Bantu Education Act, 1953 (Act 47 of 1953) and the Group Areas Act, 1950 (Act 41 of 1950).

The Bantu Education Act drew its misguided logic from the Hendrick Verwoerd ideology. This includes being charged of African education, which he believed should be adapted to the economic life of Africans in South Africa. At the ANC conference in 2012, however, Thabo Mbeki then argues: “What was the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics which it could not use in life?

Education was a priority under the government of the Qwaqwa homeland, as 350 schools were built across villages. This is further an indication towards the realisation of education as a vehicle in the struggle for liberation.

The assertion that access to education needs to be tackled, seems an idea the former homeland government realised during the oppression, and which the democratic dispensation perfected.

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