Education has always been a challenge for Africa and the scenario is no different in South Africa as only 1% of native African children are successful in completing the South African education process and actually graduate from any university. The scenario is very much visible in all schools as most teachers across institutes in townships appear either exhausted or fast asleep.
Challenge And Inspiration
Mike Feinberg, co-founder of the reputed US charter school network KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program), wrote in a recent blog, “Inspiration and tragedy. Those are the two words I wrestled with over the Atlantic Ocean this past weekend as I flew home to the US from South Africa.”
However, for Feinberg it was even more tragic to find out that there was notable lack of action and belief among educators, which was not present in students. Most learners had an intense hunger to learn, acquire good scores on their matric, pursue higher education in universities and create a better life for themselves and their families. This is what he considers to be the inspiration of education in South Africa. He wrote “And that’s where the inspiration began. The children. Wow! The children have fire in their bellies and songs in their hearts. Children have proven to us over the past 19 years of KIPP just how resilient they are, and this US lesson has the potential to play out the same way in South Africa. ”
Creating Equal Opportunity
Equal opportunity is one of the most prevalent dreams across South Africa that can create a meaning future for all children in the region. Feinberg added “There is a dream that is alive and well in South Africa. From the rural village boy who walked to the nearest town that had internet to learn about universities and is now studying at University of Cape Town (UCT) to the kids from Khayelitsha who dream of becoming astronauts, accountants, doctors and lawyers to the UCT girl from Alexandra Township who goes hungry because she sends her meal subsidy home to help her family eat, I could see it.”
However, this dream appears to be at crossroads now as adults need to look for effective ways to encourage and support children to accomplish their goals and aspirations. “…then the sky is the limit for South Africa,” he added.
Schools Need To Be Impactful
If we are to take this type of direct action to help our children then schools are undoubtedly the obvious focal point, specifically the public education system that is expected to help the kids in the first place. You cannot actually deny this point. However, if you take a close look at the policies, regulations, rules and laws that are practiced in South Africa, you will ponder whether the system was at all developed to help our children or is it simply a career programme for adults.
KIPP co-founder Mike Feinberg further wrote “This is not to say caring, skilled adults aren’t critically important in the school system; children do not reach their educational potential without helpful adults. The larger question, however, is whether the system itself sets up learners, teachers and principals for success- or whether it makes failure the norm and success the exception.”
He believes that the government is to be held accountable and responsible for the condition of the education system in South Africa. He claims that it has been observed in other academic systems that if the government provides autonomy to skilled educators and qualified operators to execute their own developmental ideas regarding what students need to enhance outcomes, then we can effectively improve performance and reach new heights of excellence.
Feinberg concluded by writing “Children are our greatest resource. Children are our greatest hope. Children are our dream. It’s time to wake up and help our dream become reality.”
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