Let's stop glorifying underachievement by our children

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We don't expect too many African pupils to be in the top list of matric super-performers.

It would seem to me we are spending too much time politicking instead of channeling energies to what will take us forward.

Where are the meetings to teach our youth to be men and women of character, and workshops to help them become the best that they can be? If they don't exist, where will this 21st century new African person come from?

Straight 7 As are somewhat not associated with pupils except for a handful who are exceptional rather than the general rule.

It makes us uncomfortable to face this truth of low expectations and under-performance by African matric students, but it is what it is.

We must state at the outset that there is absolutely nothing wrong with African pupils. They have it in their DNA to be excellent students. The poor background and a high rate of unemployment is no excuse.

We cannot for a moment suggest this under achievement is a symptom of low brain power inherent among African students.

Worse, after 25 years of democracy and freedom, blaming apartheid does not help. Blaming the past is neither a solution nor does it change the past.

The challenge is the attitude of the African parents.

Rarely do we sit our children down to demand an explanation why they are not getting 75% in their academic performance.

Even with bright ones, parents are satisfied that they have passed, moving to the next grade with 39%.

There was no outrage, or taking to the streets, when the standards were lowered to have students pass to the next grade with only 30%.

Yet boosting the confidence and courage of African students is not insurmountable. Very few of us respond when asked to attend a discussion of our children's performance or behaviour.

We are far too busy living to work rather than work to live.

We are absent to serve on the school governing bodies or assist in raising funds for the school.

But clearly, we are not there to make the necessary intervention to improve our children's grades.

Yet it is not enough that in many African countries, the top list is dominated by pupils from the minority groups.

The indigenous groups are conspicuous by their absence.

The streets are full of youth without any purpose, but who drift along aimlessly.

We attend prize-giving ceremonies and are content to have our children not bring back any prize. They get prizes for good behaviour.

Striving for excellence does not mean trying to be better than the next student. It means setting above par goals for yourself.

We have to encourage and insist that our children unleash their potential to realise that the world is their oyster.

If they work hard they can be anything they want to be.

This lackadaisical attitude is a major contribution to deteriorating educational standards.

This lack of achievement on the part of indigenous African students is turning the classroom into a war zone where pupils fight with teachers.

Poor academic performance breeds a violent inferiority complex.

Far too few African pupils are going to be obtaining seven distinctions because parents have set low expectations.

This is a national problem that deserves urgent attention.

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