News | Opinion
It is an undisputed fact that since the time of former president Thabo Mbeki, our public education system at all levels has been severely neglected and our pupils abandoned to a point where our public school system is currentlyfollowing in the footsteps of the government, an example of both dysfunction and failure.
By implication, our nation’s future leaders, entrepreneurs, and other contributors to our future economy and the wellbeing of our nation have been betrayed, and educated in failure.
Across the country, our public schools have suffered the consequences of poor management, a lack of maintenance, and, in some instances, unqualified teachers.
Ageing school infrastructure in especially middle class and poverty stricken areas is becoming both dangerous and dilapidated. There is no heating for classrooms in winter, windows are broken, lighting is poor and, in some instances, pupils are taught under trees.
One can hardly refer to this unpleasant environment as “world class” or conducive for education of any kind. In Gauteng, for example, new schools are being built but the money could be better spent upgrading the neglected ones.
However, resultant from exceptionally poor provincial leadership and a lack of financial control by both the premierand his education MEC, school budgets have instead been used as a vehicle for self enrichment especially in the times of Covid.
This budget ought to have been spent on upgrading existing school infrastructure and creating world-class institutions of learning.
Alas, it isn’t.
Building new public schools is not a bad thing, but due to our dangerous educational policies, many highly experienced teachers will be, and are, overlooked for employment due to ethnic or racial reasons.
So, we will be faced with a shortfall in public school teachers. Will this be overcome by simply importing teachers from Cuba?
Who can blame parents who can afford it to cold-shoulder our failed public schools and send their children to private schools where there is a good education system?
After all, the greatest gift we can give our children is a good education.
Even our educational policies have become embroiled in factionalism and racism and, again, pupils have been the ones to suffer most.
Yet again, those in parliament ignore how poor education has contributed to the long lines of the unemployed.
The blatant criminality that seems prevalent in many of our schools is getting worse, children as young as five years old are being raped, bullying is commonplace, drugs are being bought, sold and used at schools, books are being burned, gangsterism is increasing, and teachers are being assaulted.
Our schools have also become targets for looting and vandalism, and even armed robbery.
It seems our pupils are being taught to disrespect authority, property and lives. They are also taught that anarchy, looting and violence is not punishable in SA.
Is this why our government ministers prefer to send their children to private schools that follow an international curriculum?
Don’t they trust the system they designed, mismanaged, neglected and have no faith in?
It is unfortunate that public education has become weaponised by our political leaders. There was a time when ourstandards of education were world class.
Now, our public school system has driven us close to the bottom rung of the educational ladder. Ironically, private schools are flourishing and instead of taking the many good lessons and implementing them in public schools, government seems to be determined to put an end to such schooling.