A sad state of affairs

THERE can be no spinning the fact that any education system that gets almost half of its students fail to graduate from high school is a disgrace. The sooner we accept that we are continuing to fail our children, the better the chances that we can start doing something to correct this sorry state of affairs.

THERE can be no spinning the fact that any education system that gets almost half of its students fail to graduate from high school is a disgrace. The sooner we accept that we are continuing to fail our children, the better the chances that we can start doing something to correct this sorry state of affairs.

We must acknowledge that there is something drastically wrong with our education policy.

We cannot gainsay the effects of the social and economic factors in determining learners' chances of passing and failing. But a responsive education system will design plans around these realities rather than return to them as excuses once another failure is recorded.

Leaving it as percentages hides the shameful truth that over 200000 learners failed out of the 550000 who wrote. Of those who passed, we know that many more will have meaningless pieces of paper that do not enable them to enrol for higher education nor get decent jobs.

We need to acknowledge that the blame for this lies with a much greater number of institutions than the government and its policy makers. We have failed collectively, along with the about 220000 children who have to repeat matric.

Many parents still treat schools as no more than day- care centres. They only get an idea of what their children are up against every day when they see their report cards.

Big business is no better. The fixation with the cream of the crop that happens to be a tiny minority of all learners who go through the system can only have a limited effect.

While there is merit in rewarding the smartest and those who work hard, the ignored average student remains a societal burden and a less than efficient future employee.

It is always a sign of bad times when the president of the country must actually mention in his state of the nation that teachers must go to class on time. And teach. But with anarchists who go under the banner of teachers' union Sadtu, it has become necessary to do so.

There is no delicate way of saying that Sadtu has had a destructive contribution to the culture of teaching and learning in our schools, especially so at those where black children go.

The ruling party, if it is truly interested in improving the state and quality of our children's education, must at worst revisit its relationship with this union.

Otherwise, they will be complicit in its apparent aim of ensuring that black children remain no more than hewers of wood and drawers of water.

There definitely is much room for improvement for all of us with regards to education.

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