Reject the Grade 9 plan

2019-11-06 06:01
Edgar Legoale Social Observer

Edgar Legoale Social Observer

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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela.

South Africa, our beloved country, is where it is today because of the sacrifices by many fallen and living heroes and heroines. During the hard times of the atrocious apartheid regime, they fought while studying, because they understood the value of education.

Going to school was never a mistake given the challenges we are faced with today, except that the past system deprived some South Africans, especially Africans from quality education by imposing an inferior syllabus. Despite biased and harsh conditions, the oppressed majority persevered, hence many black graduates emerged at various higher learning institutions.

The gains of the fallen and living heroes and heroines will be rendered useless today if we shift the goal posts another inch.

I’m referring to the proposal of the South African Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, that Grade 9 should be seen as the second school exit with a General Education Certificate. First, it was lowering the pass mark from 40% to 30%.

The implementation of Motshekga’s plan will impact negatively on many things. It will increase the number of people who still believe it is unnecessary to further their studies and acquire skills, and it will impact negatively on South Africa’s economic growth. The government should create a culture of learning, instead of worsening the situation.

I reject this plan and appeal to all South Africans to do so. The Minister wants to impress and to be seen as working hard to curb dropout, failure and repetition, instead of looking at the future of the country.

I find no logic behind Motshekga’s reasoning and justification in effectively “toying” around with the African child’s education as they are the ones who bear the brunt of a practically dysfunctional curriculum. If implemented, the plan could potentially cripple the school system and exacerbate the problems of unemployment that we are struggling with. It could lead to the rise of gangsters, alcohol and substance abuse.

Surely, one should be forgiven for wondering if the Minister isn’t somehow dictating to everyone in the department on national matters. Or maybe those who are supposed to be working with her, are simply unqualified.

Laziness, mediocrity and sheer incompetence must never be tolerated. Proper planning and execution must be the order of the day if we are serious to tackle the challenges that are purported to have prompted lowering the bar. Failure rate, repetitions and drop-out cannot be dealt with by degrading the standard of education.

We are in 2019, when everything seems to be getting out of hand because of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Instead of planning to accommodate this era, our Minister is disgracing the nation. Coding and robotics curricula should be included in General Education and Training from Grade R to 9 and this should be the focus – though it’s very late for us.

Teachers must be reskilled to keep up with the world. I can tell when a child born after 2000 is taught by a 1980’s teacher who needs capacity training.

The Minister must confide to the nation and tell us whose mandate she is pushing.

Even if this would have been another way of making Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions (TVET’s) more alive, it cannot work as they are failed by not funding students. Our TVETs are not properly equipped, yet the department wants a solution that has the potential of increasing the numbers of those studying there after Grade 9.

What exactly does the Minister want or aim to achieve?

  • Grade 12 is the minimum entry for employment, yet they struggle to find jobs. Then you create yet another level as the General Education Certificate for learners at 14. That’s effectively saying teenagers can go and sit at home because they are certificated! To do what? Legoale, an activist, ANCYL member and Youth Development Practitioner writes in his personal capacity.
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