Monday, July 05, 2004

This weeks Economist has a good article on New Labour's conversion, finally, to the idea that choice has a place in Britain's school system. It's hardly revolutionary stuff and I expect that, apart from junkies like me, it won't excite too many people. Nevertheless, it did set me to thinking about the state of schooling in South Africa...

To my mind one of the big surprises of the post-94 governments has been the relatively hands-off approach that they've adopted towards SA's schools. If we overlook Sibusiso Bengu's disastrous efforts with Curriculum 2005, the overwhelming impression that one gets is of a government content to let things carry on as before. That's not to deny that there has been change, of course. The fact that the intake at most formerly white schools is now more representative of the countries demographic profile being the most obvious. But the structure of, particularly, secondary schooling is more or less unchanged. All those plush formerly white sub-urban schools have been allowed to continue unchanged, a remarkable fact if you think about it.

Despite the ANC's lurch to the right on economic matters (which appears to be running out of steam incidentally) it has remained, if one believes the rhetoric, a progressive movement at heart. It is committed to improving the life-chances of all South Africans, to reducing the glaring gaps in equality, in access to education etc. What strikes me is that, faced with similar problems after the War, Labour set about dis-mantling Britain's Grammar School system and replacing it with a more egalitarian, and ultimately less effective, system of Comprehensives. But the ANC, whose problems are much larger than those faced by any recent British government, has done virtually nothing to reduce the discrepancy in the education available to South Africans of different classes. The formerly white schools (are they still called Model C schools?) provide an education far superior to that received in most townships and, rather strikingly, nobody appears to think that this is a bad thing. Indeed, the ANC itself has appeared to concede the point and now typically argues that it is important to maintain centres of excellence. Presumably they've accepted that this means entrenching social and economic divisions in South Africa for another generation or so.

I think that in its way this speaks to the true heart of the ANCs reforming agenda. It is not nearly so radical as the rhetoric would suggest. Indeed it seems that the ANC now thinks that it's primary role is to facilitate the emergence of a prosperous black middle-class even at the expense of the majority of the country's citizens. This is a remarkable conclusion for an organisation of the ANC's provenance and which still claims to be committed to an egalitarian outcome to South Africa's problems. I should add that I don't necessarily think that it is the wrong course either. Clearly nobodies interests would've been served by an Education Minister hell-bent on destroying the structures of white education and replacing them with some sort of utopian people's education. That said it is still tough to have to concede that the country's immediate future is better served by granting a small-ish elite access to a good education and then leaving the rest of the youth to the tender mercies of township and rural schooling.

I had a chat a few months back with a woman who'd been involved in education in Pretoria and who informed me that there's been a veritable explosion of private schools offering stripped bare schooling to black families desperate to get their kids out of the township schools. These people scrimp and save in order to put together the several thousand rand a year that these new private schools charge, and good for them. But the suggestion was that government is failing to provide something pretty fundamental and that those who can have opted out. Of course there are many thousands who are trapped in the townships and on the farms and whose prospects for a decent education are pretty grim. That there is so little debate about this confirms, once again, something that I have long suspected about South African's of all hues: we do and think whatever our leaders tell us to.


At 6 July 2004 at 03:11, Blogger AmbiDextri said...

Nice one, I think you may have nailed the proverbial nail there. Getting out of the habit of doing as we are told will take, um, an education that encourages analytical thinking. Pretty vicious circle there.

At 5 October 2005 at 10:57, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a Free site Free Article Search. It pretty much covers submit article related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

At 15 October 2005 at 16:06, Blogger Air Filters said...

Hey, nice blog and great info!
I have a new article search
site. It's a article search
site for those of you looking for information on article search
Come and check it out if you get time I would really appreciate it :-)

At 16 October 2005 at 23:59, Blogger Kim said...

Hi there, It never ceases to amaze me of the quality of blogs that can be found. Yours is very interesting indeed!

I have a article directory website pertaining to article directory.

Check us out sometimes. :)

At 15 December 2005 at 11:44, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello ##NAME##, I find it very refreshing to occasionally find a postsuch as yours with a different topic completely to what I was looking for. It often ads to ones list of lifes experiences.

I tend to have a soft spot for blogs related to article database and /or sites that have a central theme around article database type items.

Once again, thank you, hope you don't mind if I visit again sometime :-)

At 16 December 2005 at 18:05, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your one-stop source for free articles and ebooks. Do you need contents
to add to your web site? Or articles for use on your opt-in newsletters
and e-zines? has scoured the web and indexed a
huge collection of articles on various subjects. Just click on the
appropriate category to read the articles. Please feel free to submit
an article.

At 18 December 2005 at 16:08, Blogger Kim said...

I found your blog by mistake. Actually was looking for something else but I like yours.

My marketing montreal viral could help. It is a great marketing montreal viral tool.

At 31 December 2005 at 00:49, Anonymous free article directory said...

I have a similar website tied to submitting article for publication Come by some time.
I very much fancy your site, I bookmarked it! This information is terrific stuff.

At 29 January 2006 at 02:35, Anonymous Atkins said...

From what I can see, not many blogs talk about stuff like cleaners for cars exhaust air and that is sad. I think your blog is great that way.

keep it up.

At 29 January 2006 at 02:41, Anonymous Happy said...

This is a very nice site. I was out looking for "sample copy environment environment clean air complaint" and found your blog in the process.

Best of luck.

At 30 January 2006 at 11:07, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your blog. I have a blog with articles realted to your.
Check articles

At 28 February 2006 at 03:10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Afternoon. Quite by accident I stumbled accross your post. Refreshing comments like yours seem to somehow add to ones list of lifes experiences.

I find that blogs related to publishing articles that have a topic around publishing articles type items to be informative and sometimes entertaining.

Once again, thank you.

At 24 March 2006 at 00:10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to be a dying breed on the internet. I still feel that article writing and article marketing are in their infancy - there is much more benefit to be derived from article writing. None of my web sites have suffered from the alleged, duplicate content filter or penalty - very much the opposite. The Article Marketing blog is on course to become the number one source of information on article writing and marketing.

At 26 March 2006 at 07:06, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duplicate content, web scraping auto bots, article generation software and article spinning. It seems every scaremonger and opportunist has jumped on the article writing band wagon. I still feel that article writing and article marketing are in their infancy - there is much more benefit to be derived from article writing. None of my web sites have suffered from the alleged, duplicate content filter or penalty - very much the opposite. The Article Marketing blog is on course to become the number one source of information on article writing and marketing.

At 30 March 2006 at 19:54, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact is that the INTERNET is making people RICH! Shouldn't YOU be one of them? Click here: FIND OUT NOW!


Post a Comment

<< Home