This week’s news is all about the schools. And how screwed (up) they are. Honestly, watching 7pm TV last night was enough to have any Education Endorsing fool sobbing into their sundowner GnT.
Matric pass rates of Nada. Fully equipped classrooms promised, yet still just existing as a high pile of bricks. Not even the desks had arrived. No water. No electricity. The shade of trees acting as kids’ classrooms (one time when Africa prays for no rain). Other learners unable to cross the flooding rivers to their schools. A million Rand needed at one school if they hope to abide by the curriculum, but hardly a portion of that allocated by government to them.
Then my maid returned from a few days’ “Business Trip” to her home town. She had gone north to shout her heavy bulk off at her young son’s school.
Her son has failed Standard Eight twice at his school. 2006 was his third attempt. In tears of desperation and confusion she called me at work sometime in December to tell me that he had apparently failed EVERYTHING this past year again. Every single subject.
He, meanwhile, assured his mom that while he might have done bugger all for the 2 first years (as unsupervised teenagers are known to do) he did work his butt off come Attempt 3.
This dear smiley boy had even managed to win a Maths prize last year that was held throughout three provinces. He was the best Maths student out of 3 provinces! How then could such a boy fail EVERYTHING, including his prize subject?
Nothing added up.
My maid arrived at this Pietersburg school with her son in toe, and him clutching all his 2006 papers and tests. Apparently she was not the only bewildered parent, and that there was a very long line of parents and kids in similar predicaments.
The not-so-polite teachers finally looked over all his books and papers and tests. He had passed. He was perfectly allowed and able to move up a standard.
Either out of laziness or inefficiency the teachers at this school had failed the kid.
This leaves one wondering whether this may have been the case once or twice before. As well as how many learners they do this to, and how many of these children do not have folks to fight for them and against a broken system.
Instead of apologies they told informed my maid that he is a slow child. His writing is terrible. He should focus on numbers, and leave school at the end of this year for a mechanical school. (So our new education system is about encouraging children then…)
The teachers moaned about the classes being too big. His class (the number of kids in a single room, not the amount in one standard) is 100 or so children. (Mine was 60 girls in our standard, 20 in my class…and no more!) Yes, a teacher cannot possibly be very effective in such an environment. She can not even move amongst the children and examine their work while in the room.
Not enough teachers. Not enough resources. Not enough tax payers’ money going towards the salaries of our country’s educators.
The precious teachers proceeded to complain that it is the children who are lazy and do not want to learn. My dear maid, being the strong & outspoken person she is (she brought up a girl like me after all), apparently turned to the children around and asked how many of these kids attend Saturday morning extra lessons. They all said that they did, but no teacher ever arrived.
I have witnessed a friend of mine make an ad hoc tutoring service thrive in Western Cape townships. I have seen how desperate these children are to learn and to move up in the world. My money’s on the kids being the honest ones.
For fck sakes.
And apparently this is the best school in the region. Many new children had arrived that day to enrol, as their schools were much worse. So increasing class sizes and demands on these poorly paid, disinterested (burnt out?) teachers.
My maid also chose to argue about the enrolment of another student. The school was not allowing him to return as he was already 23. She demanded to know what exactly they proposed as an alternative. He had no hope of finding a job or continuing his studies or being accepted by another school at this stage. So what then, he sits at home all day until eventually he is forced into crime?!?
The teachers replied by saying that she talks as much as her son.
When was I actively supporting a nation where education and the desire for such was allowed to be so disrespected? Slighted? Snubbed?
[Delay in post was caused by me living up to my Resolution 5: Stop whiling away my work day blogging & emailing mates, and rather actually do more office work, UNISA dumb-stupid-I-hate-part-time-study Honours, and French homework before my teacher releases the French wrath on me.