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Put your money where Maimane is: ex DA leader outlines 5 radical changes SA ailing schools need right now

As matric learners in public schools across the country await the release of their exam results on Thursday (19 January), former DA leader and founder of Build One South Africa, Mmusi Maimane, took voters into his confidence during an exclusive NOWinSA Twitter Spaces discussion as he outlined 5 changes that must be implemented to radically overhaul the country's broken education system and current school curriculum - in time for the new school term.

In addition to having to bare the brunt of the Covid-19 crisis on the already ailing education system, nothing spells further doom than the crippling consequences of loadshedding, which further exposes how the country’s schooling system continues to be shaped by our history, or rather, the sad legacy of apartheid.

“Our mission as Build One SA (BOSA) is exactly in the name. As a political party, we are committed to building this nation, and that requires that we invest in the future of our country. It also requires that we understand that we are living in post liberation; and that there must be life after the ANC,” founder and leader of BOSA said during the live audio dialogue, adding: “Furthermore, we need to ask ourselves what exactly is the South Africa we envision in the future? And its problem sits in the first of the second part, which is that ‘actually there’s a South Africa that prospers’ … there’s a South Africa where children get an incredible education … there’s a South Africa upon which people work and live in secure communities.”

He adds: “And there’s another South Africa where, in fact, when we at look at real numbers, you find 80% of the schools in this country being dysfunctional (report). This, worse still, is happening on the back of the fact that 40% of our kids actually don’t even get to matric, and that when you look at our performance level over a period of five years, you realise that the average on a subject such as a mathematics, ends with a pass rate of only 30%. These confirm the fact that actually the circumstances of your birth still determines where you actually going to end up.

“Sadly, to me that says we’re living in a crisis where we’ve got too many South Africa’s and that’s unstable. So, as a complete new offering that we built for the people of this country, we’re saying let’s build one system … one education that can prosper all citizens. We are saying let us build one South Africa where everyone can have shared prosperity, bound together by values. Furthermore, as a party, we have this passion for education because we believe that if you don’t build the skills pipeline of a country or fail to empower your citizens, there’s no way you can have a prosperous nation.”

5 changes needed to overhaul SA education

From these grim realities Maimane highlighted above, and unless urgent actions are taken, it’s clear that the future of South African children is under a great threat. In this article, as per our Twitter space conversation, the former higher-education lecturer outlines 5 radical changes needed to overhaul our broken public education system.

“We need a leadership that can take us forward in education, and one that has a vision for this country” – Maimane said during a live Twitter Spaces audio stream with NOWinSA.
  • Clear vision (resulting in good leadership and governance)

One of our biggest problems in South Africa is that we have a government that hasn’t got a clear vision for education. We have a minister of education who doesn’t believe in our kids; that is why they are given a 30% pass rate. So we have to first think of leadership and governance. We need a leadership that can take us forward in education, and one that has a vision for this country, and knows that we must include a skills pipeline that works.

  • Better Parental Participation

The second and most fundamental aspect is that, we as parents, need to be more empowered to take responsibility of the education of our young people. And that’s a function of an entire reform of the education system: to advocate for better parental participation – that way the propsects of that child being able to not only stay in school but succeed too increases significantly.

  • Curriculum Renewal

Thirdly, we need to review our curriculum; as you may have noticed, we’ve been going on about the dropping of life orientation as a school subject because it’s a waste of time. I think we need to substitute it with critical reasoning. So that our young people are able to think better and be prepared for the world of work. When we talk about the curriculum, it’s also about anchoring it in the values that come from within this country, which is ‘Ubuntu‘. That’s to say ‘how do we prepare for the economic needs of this country and help young people excel in maths, technology and give them the opportunity to study robotics and coding so that they can participate in the next economy that is coming?’

  • Improved infrastructure

As citizens, I think we need to be very deliberate about the kind of infrastructure that our kids are being taught under. It can not be that in today’s society, we’re still talking about kids studying in schools which uses pit toilets. I watched the news the other night and there’s a school that burnt down in Mpumalanga last year’s which the government failed to fix. I think of thousands of learners in that school with no windows or roof, which is something totally unacceptable. So when we talk about accountability and the building of infrastructure, we’ve got to be very deliberate about it.

  • Cultivating leadership

Lastly, I always think that leadership matters; in a school where you’ve got the best headmaster, the prospects of success increases significantly. It becomes quite clear where the leadership of that school is strong, and that the leader in question is not chosen to serve the union, as in the ‘jobs for cash report’ in schools. It becomes clear that leader is setup to ensure that the pass rate is high … that the teachers are held accountable … and better yet that the best teachers are in the classrooms and are well paid. That way they can ensure that there’s an overall sense of discipline in the school to achieve their envisioned outcome. So in a nutshell, we have a duty as parents. The government too has a duty … and the educators themselves equally have their own duty. And between all of us, we need to ensure that we all have a duty to deliver an education system that is competent. 

Temoso Mokoena
Temoso Mokoena
Temoso Mokoena is a tech and sneaker enthusiast who likes to stay neutral in all things.
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