Guide to ANC Policy Conference for All South Africans

2017-06-30 16:50

Every South African is encouraged to discuss and debate the ANC Policy documents, published widely in the public domain. That is understandable and appreciated.

I am entering the discussion focusing on Policy Document Number 5 named: Education, Health, Science and Technology.

I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve, that is speaking directly on the ground. A real life practical scenario will be drawn. People are tired of clichés and being given soothing syrup. The call is for something direct and specific. There is nothing so tranquilizing and so stabilizing like an iron tonic truth.

THE DEPARTURE

Vade mecum

But let us first underline three general points that are generally known facts.

ONE: For the past 23 years the country did not function for the majority of South Africans. The ushered democratic dispensation served the interests of a narrow, idle class while the majority of South Africans went deeper into poverty, frustrations and suffering.

As things currently stands unemployment among youth swings around and above 50%.

How do I simplify this statement? This way: For the past 23 years the space called South Africa was organized to serve the interests of people whose appetite for looting outstrips their capacity to do anything of worth to the people who vote for them.

TWO: The world is moving towards and inclusive society. The ploy of using race as a method to win elections is dying. During the local government elections two things happened that brought this fact home. 1. The ANC relied on race to tackle its major opponent DA saying to the people, it is a white party. What happened? ANC lost key metros. 2. The ANC relied on race to appeal to EFF for coalition with them. What happened? The fact is that the ANC is an old party that does not move with the times.

Former Harvard and Princeton professor Cornel West, an Africanist hard hitting firebrand has stated the matter boldly. He said: “I would rather have a white president eradicating poverty than a black president tied to Wall Street and drones.”

Before the voting the narrative was very solid. Do not vote for DA, it is a white party. But people went ahead and voted DA. What were they saying? They were making the same statement, “I would rather vote for a white party than a black corrupt party that take the majority of Black people for granted as if they are not human enough.

THREE: South Africa is a car with gear in reverse but with slogans of Moving South Africa Forward. We are in a backward motion. We are a backward nation. We moved backward into junk; we moved backward and entered a recession.  We have moved backward such that South African school pupils are behind the rest of Africa in terms of math and literacy. We have moved backward where the economy is shedding jobs fast. The gear is in reverse and yet, in a case of grand delusion – we think we are moving forward.

But don’t take my word for it. According to Lindiwe Sisulu the notable ANC stalwart born and nurtured by the ANC has said recently that ANC is decaying. I have different types of dictionaries in my residence; all speak of decaying as something decomposing, dead and rotting. The Collins Dictionary is sharp pointed in its description of decay: When something such as a dead body decays, it is gradually destroyed by a natural process.

Lindiwe Sisulu has a great reputation of not being gadfly, nor viewed as one who speaks flippantly, voicing intemperate opinion to shock or awe.

A glance across the pervasive poverty and suffering among Black people give concrete demonstration of the lack of solidarity among Black people. Here is the government voted by the majority of Black people and yet does not work for them and does not have the will to do so. The poor masses are put at arm’s length as the connected are looting and concerned with personal privileges.

THE DISCUSSION

An Oasis in the Desert: Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do

I am discussing the ANC’s Policy Document Number 5 named: Education, Health, Science and Technology.

Several questions are asked upfront in this policy document. One of those questions is: Please propose one action or policy change that the ANC should do or adopt in each sector, namely education; health; science, technology and innovation, to get the country closer to radical socioeconomic transformation?

In discussing this policy document, let me relate personal experiences from my own life with the hope that they will help in expanding perspectives during the course of the policy conference.

I have attended and completed my high school education before the ANC rule.

The high school I attended was on a huge hectare plot. The school was far ahead in terms of the natural beauty of its environment with well-kept gardens. It was the pride of the community, so every individual contributed to its well-being.

The two taps of water made sure the plants and gardens were well watered. The taps never got dry – water was always flowing; you turned the tap, water came not dripping or slowly but pouring and gushing in great force. This was fresh healthy water. Today under ANC rule we are told water system in communities is not being maintained by corrupt municipalities and it is not that safe to drink tap water. The clear example is the Brits communities where brown water was coming from their taps making a lot of people getting sick.

But natural environment; flowers and water from taps do not make a great school. It is the content and the character in the classrooms. So how was teaching and learning taking place in our classooms?

Our teachers were a cohesive teaching team, very passionate about what they were doing. They competed with each in delivering the best quality lessons. More importantly they worked as a team. Sometimes a geography teacher will come along with an agricultural teacher  to give an agricultural perspective on an issue that overlaps into agricultural field.

Most of the teachers were university graduates from University of the North (University of Limpopo) for all I know. There were few from colleges. This is where I came to appreciate the value of university education. Those teachers who came from university were vastly different; they were philosophical and beaming with air of leadership and authority. With insufficient resources they were doing the things they were doing: imparting knowledge in a friendly environment where we were groomed for the world.

During the agricultural classes, we had time to go outdoors to experience what we learned from text books in real life. We studied different kinds of soil:  sand, clay, silt, peat, chalk and loam. It was quite an enjoyment going outdoors in the sunshine to touch, breath, feel and observe. And we were doing this self-directed without supervision.

It is important in learning that the principles of thrill, passion, and purpose are entrenched.

Gardening was more like sport. The physical science teacher will tell us: gardening is great sport, one of the best games in all the world, full of mystery, suspense, and expectancy. What can be more enjoyable than watching plants grow – to help each plant, like a little baby: gently watering it, pruning it, and enjoying the process of seeing it blossom and bearing sweet fruits?

Sport was central to our education. We had softball, soccer, boxing, volleyball, karate, and table tennis. I remember the other time the school principal gave a speech he entitled, The Utilization of Leisure Time.

In recollection, one of the key things he said was that: Sport is not an end in itself, but a means to super health, genuine lasting pleasure, self-control and the formation of character. Through sport you gain self-mastery, alertness, skill and poise, physical power and mental discipline. Always play your games, for the fun of the game, for the pure love of the sport. And when you win enjoy the thrill of victory, when you lose enjoy the comradeship with your team members as you console each other and regroup.

More importantly play your sport for the health benefits you get.

I have found what he said was timeless and is still relevant even today. In those days, school principals were respected as leaders of society on par with traditional rulers sometimes even serving as advisers to them.

And so there we were: We had water, our teachers were smart and committed, and life was good, our consciousnesses were expanding through committed guidance from committed teachers.

The school was an oasis in the desert, in the midst of the most vicious inhuman system of apartheid. We wrestled with apartheid and won. We refused to bog down and breakdown under the heavy might of the evil of apartheid. We won the war; the war was that black people are inferior. We refused to swallow that narrative. We considered ourselves superior to whites. We were in a desert, but we found water where there was no water, we found trees to sit under and cool off where there were no trees. We determined our own destiny. 

Pain and adversity are powerful vehicles to promote personal growth. Nothing helps you learn, grow and mature than digging deeper when under suffering.

CURRENT STATUS

An Obscene Picture

The typical school under the ANC rule is characterised by: buildings in dismal shape to the extent that class conscious rats abandon them for classless cockroaches; clogged, brackish gutters; schoolyards being havens of unruly behavior, broken windows, general environment ugly and unwelcoming for any learning. Distracted teachers, the schools run down through corruption by SADTU, an ANC affiliated teacher union.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what the National Planning Commission says:

Efforts to raise the quality of education for poor children have largely failed. Apart from a small minority of black children who attend former white schools and a small minority of schools performing well in largely black areas, the quality of public education remains poor. Literacy and numeracy test scores are low by African and global standards, despite the fact that government spends about 6% of GDP on education and South Africa’s teachers are among the highest paid in the world (in purchasing power parity terms). [Billions are spent in ever collapsing schools, where are the billions going?]

Now listen to this

The National Planning Commission continues:

“A study by the Human Sciences Research Council found that almost 20% of teachers are absent on Mondays and Fridays. Absentee rates increase to one-third at month end. Teachers in African schools teach an average of 3.5 hours a day compared with about 6.5 hours a day in former white schools... holding union meetings [by ANC’s allied teacher union SADTU] during school time is often the norm in townships schools”.

According to the National Planning Commission, 97% of Black students attend these so called schools.

South Africa’s trouble is that corruption has become a creed, that fraud is elevated to the stature of a religion, to the end that nothing matters to the leaders than looting.

CONCLUSION

Touch Down, Shakespeare comes to dinner

Shakespeare has stated the matter this way: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. But in ourselves, that we are underlings”.

South Africa’s sorry, saddening state is a direct result of crass, pedestrian thinking. Underlings have made us to be a backward country: junk and recession. Underlings have weakened our state institutions. Underlings have made us lose our position as the leader of Africa. Underlings have sapped our international reputations. Underlings have made South African students to be behind the rest of Africa in terms of math and literacy.

South Africa’s current ruler is both subject to dismal circumstances and a victim of his own severe limitations.

Oh before I forget, a brief note about the constant reference to apartheid in the ANC policy documents and the current trend where conversation revolves about white monopoly capital: You cannot solve any problem if you blame other people for it. It is time to take ownership and responsibility for your dismal failures.

Unless we take action, unless we fight now, the roof is going to crush on all our heads.

Join the conversation!

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