The birth of a new Bantu education: the progression policy

2016-12-08 11:21

Like many other people, I thought the struggle activist Dr. Mamphela Ramphele was insane when she remarked education was better under apartheid, but there are things under our current education minister and her policy makers that seem to confirm Mamphela’s assertions. A case in point is the current progression policy that the basic education department enforces on us teachers. Under the policy, a learner can only stay in one phase once, provided the learner 1) is never absent from school for more than 20 school days; 2) there is evidence that the she/he has submitted all the formal assessment tasks. These two criteria in particular education officials say are indicative of a learner’s commitment to her/his academic work. How shocking and sad.

Although this country has made tremendous strides as far as access to basic education is concerned, the quality thereof has remained the greatest source of despondency for me and many other South Africans.

Academic performance of the progressed

It is no surprise that the progressed learners hardly do well in the phase to which they were progressed. To substantiate, all 10 progressed learners from grade 9 that I taught this year in grade 10 unsurprisingly never made it to grade 11. The picture looks bleaker as I include others from other grades in our further education and training (FET) phase.  Of course they will definitely move to grade 11 in 2018 because they have already failed their current grade.

The aim is to perpetuate endemic socio-economic inequalities

The reason for continued deliberate deterioration of the standards of education in this country is to ensure, one would argue, that the majority of our people remain in abject poverty; thus keep as many black people as possible dependent on the state thereby stay in power ‘until Jesus comes back’. The aim is to ensure that South Africa has as many young people as possible stuck in the shackles of socio-economic inequalities that we read about daily. The aim is to ensure that all the romantic and poetic assertions contained in the NDP (National Development Plan) remain just that—poetic, idealistic and romantic.

They should just forget

There are a number of initiatives that seek to attract young and highly talented teachers in the teaching profession, like Fundza Lushaka bursary scheme, but with these demoralising and demeaning policies, those teachers will not choose teaching as a profession. It is for this reason that when you ask any teacher if they took teaching as first option, most of them will say a big no. Teaching profession has lost the respect that it once had in our parents’ era mainly because those who run it don’t hold it in high esteem. There will be a time when being educated and/ or certificated in South Africa will be like combing your hair in your spare time.

In closing, how does a learner take their education seriously if they know they will be progressed to the next grade albeit terrible academic marks? That’s for you Mrs Motshega.

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