The inferiority factory

Often I have been asked who and what has had the most profound influence in my life. immediately things like Common’s Be, my grandmother’s firm hand and even cartoons like Recess and Doug are amongst the things that quickly come to mind. But perhaps no other entity has had a more profound influence on me more than my teachers. It is almost a cliché that educators play a great role in shaping the mindsets of a society’s citizens. Taylor Mali sums it up best when a lawyers asks him what he make he says, “Teachers make a difference”.

As matric exams are in full flight and the ANC YL is calling for nationalization in order for people to get free primary and tertiary education, perhaps there has come a time for us to conduct a clinical survey of our education system. More and more we are noticing that excellence is becoming a foreign entity in our primary and high school education systems. Standards are being set so low that we can hardly see the bar.

Many of the subjects require knowledge of just 30% of the actual material. 30%! I hate to be the bearer of bad news but when you come from that kind of s system no one can honestly expect you to excel in anything. This education system is producing a generation of learners that are at a distinct disadvantage. In a world where links are becoming more and more vital, can we honestly say that our children are equipped for the world? Are we confident in taking a student from any class in the country and pitting them against their counterparts in Japan, Brazil or any other country in the world? Certainly not.

The trouble is that this lowering of standards has a ripple on effect whether we like to acknowledge it or not. Recent studies have shown that many tertiary institutions around the country are noticing subsiding levels of literacy and numeracy amongst new enrollees and undergrad students. And indeed many of us I am sure have noticed this. Those awkward moments when a person who is at tertiary level and is studying a vital subject cannot construct a sentence or even a logical argument. The trouble with our education system ladies and gentleman is that it is primarily based on imparting information, rather than encouraging a culture of curiosity and critical thinking.

Equally notable is the fact that the education disparities in the education system are becoming a metaphor for the divided society we are. Whilst some public schools are burgeoning and have the latest gizmos and gadgets other schools use the shade of a tree as the classroom. and whilst some regions in the country are achieving admirable pass rates others are plagued by maladministration and other things that take away priority form the learning and teaching process. There is no holistic message being delivered and I fear that we have hit a dead end.

Less and less I am hearing my contemporaries want to become teachers or talk about how they want to give back and make a difference. Many of those that graduated from this system in shambles have no desire to go back and try and change it and really who can blame them?

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