After Apartheid, South Africans sought after change in the education. Lofty goals were set in order to undo the damage done, promising a better future for everyone and ensuring a quality education for future learners. More than twenty years on the South African education system is lackluster to say the least and has failed to attain the goals set in the heretofore and conscientiously do right by it’s learners.
The post Apartheid government aimed for the stars when planning to fix our education system and our current government has settled for the top of the stairs. Their goals were honestly insurmountable. During the late 1990’s, curriculum 2005 was put in place as an iteration if an new Outcome Based Education system which would have been in full effect by the year 2005. Curriculum 2005 required a plethora of hardworking individuals and oodles of reform to reach the status of a well functioning education system. This included the redevelopment of teachers and substantial training to ensure that they were of the correct standard and the nation wide standard of sophisticated classrooms matching that of established education systems around the world.
This of course had it’s issues. Many teachers who were unqualified to teach had succumb to the poor teacher training and a majority of the schools had ho-hum infrastructure to fulfill the needs of Curriculum 2005. Over the years leading up to now the government has invested more and more money into the education system, trying to change it to suit the needs of the learners and themselves but has rather ended up doing much less then once promised.
In my view Nelson Mandela’s speech was too optimistic. The speech promised the world, it gave hope for a better future. Nelson Mandela sought about piecing together the fragmented education system at the time, that entailing resolving the lack of access to basic education and undoing the credence in institutions that lack appropriate teaching media and equipment required for effective learning. It is shocking that in my time, more than twenty years on, South African learners are still facing the same issues.
South African learners rank among the lowest amongst the developing world when it comes to science, basic maths and reading. A majority of schools are poorly constructed and lack a lot of resources. Furthermore many of the teachers entrusted with developing the future leaders of this country are grossly under qualified. Many of them cannot even pass the tests they give their learners. There is a prominent reason behind all these shortcomings in our education system, government mismanagement.
Even if we were able to put aside the fact that we are aiming for ridiculous goals, and they were somehow attainable, the government is just unequipped to do reach these goals. South Africa invests a large sum of money into education, 6,4% of the GDP compared to the European standard of 4,8%, but where does all that money go? Corruption is a major issue, as money trickles down it is slowly siphoned until there is little to no funding for the most desperate schools. Additionally schools that do receive funding end up doing just as bad because the money is being mismanaged and used inappropriately. In some cases the people in high levels of education management do not even comprehend what is required to ensure a proper education amongst schools and are unable to meet the needs of schools. All of this is done and no one is held accountable. Consequently the lack of accountability results in more of these crimes and more of these problematic people being unchecked.
The South African education system has obviously failed it’s learners therefore the argument should not be about whether it has failed or not, rather if it is possible to improve it and if so when will Mandela’s hopes conveyed in his speech come into fruition.