As we mark 25 years since the dawn of our democracy, it is proper to review what has happened in the last quarter century.
It is clear that education has to be the big loser.
During apartheid, education was segregated according to the colour of one’s skin.
Whites had the best education, followed by Indians, then coloureds, and blacks were at the bottom of the heap.
Whites had the best possible education in the world – except in African history, where they were taught racially prejudiced rubbish about everything black, and hero-worshipped everything Caucasian, in line with the teachings of apartheid mastermind Hendrik Verwoerd.
Under our new dispensation, education for whites has continued to be good, with changes in the teaching of history.
With regard to black education, it became fragmented, with the ANC elite and tenderpreneurs taking their children to private schools where they have a similar education to that given to whites, while the bulk of the black community is condemned to even lower standards than under apartheid.
The pass mark on certain subjects has now been placed at 30%, down from the pass mark that was acceptable under apartheid.
Arithmetic has been downgraded to what is called mathematics literacy. Shameful indeed.
At the heart of the country’s education problems is the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu). Most of its members have a low sense of responsibility and take no pride in their work.
When the department of education wanted to conduct competency tests for teachers to verify their skills profile in their respective subjects, Sadtu rejected it because they knew that many of their members taught subjects they were not competent in.
An inquiry into Sadtu was commissioned, and it showed that most principals were appointed fraudulently, and that jobs were sold to the highest bidders.
That inquiry report has not been published.
The children of most Sadtu members attend private schools and former Model C schools where their parents are not teaching, because those parents know that the education they deliver schools is garbage and not good enough for their own children.
It makes one wonder how Sadtu can think that what they teach in our schools is good for the nation.
That tells you how patriotic they are. It is all about shameful self-interest.
Now and again, we are told that Sadtu members cannot be disciplined or fired from their jobs because of the union’s immoral political connection with the ANC government.
It’s an electoral and political fix, with the worst possible outcome for the future of our nation.
For the ANC to have outperformed the apartheid regime in a race to debilitate black education is a crime that has done – and continues to do – incalculable damage to the nation.
Everyone knows that, despite the catastrophic failures of the Zanu-PF regime in Zimbabwe, education there is still superior to what is available for most black children in South Africa.
We can see that in the Zimbabwean refugees who have come here to get a better life for themselves and their families.
This is very threatening for Africa’s most developed economy.
The success of any nation anywhere in the world depends on the quality of education it delivers to its children.
Whether it is China, Singapore, Japan, India, Germany or Hungary ... they all have a better education system than ours.
It was recently established in research by Professor Sarah Howie, the national research coordinator for the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, that most of our Grade 4 pupils cannot read and write properly.
How can we compete with our peers with such low education standards? Are we deliberately producing a nation of failures?
We are ready to be colonised by choice through lack of knowledge and information.
When the majority of our pupils pass this low level, the country will perform at that very same level.
The confidence of our children goes down; they can only have an inferiority complex when meeting their counterparts from other countries.
Our standards are suicidally low.
The ANC and its alliance partner Sadtu have failed to provide our children with quality education.
Verwoerd would be impressed with their performance.
For education, it has been 25 wasted years. We should have done far, far better.
Makgoale is a rank and file member of the ANC