South Africa: ‘Schools taught better before 94’
You know if must be bad in the education department in South Africa when a non-white departmental head admits that the education system was better under Apartheid. Blacks were educated under the “Bantu education” model during Apartheid, which allowed them to be the best educated blacks on the African continent. Let’s be frank – blacks do not want to be educated. They would much prefer to be in the veld looking after their cows and making beer. That’s ok – as long as they then leave others to it. But no, it doesn’t quite work that way with them. If they are unhappy then everyone must be unhappy and if this means that no one gets an education because they’ve burned down buildings and busses then so be it. If this means that up to 70 employees invade Mr Swartz’ office and dance and chant on his table then so be it. If it means that they dumb down the education standard of the whole country so at least some of them pass Grade 12 then so be it….No wonder they need Affirmative Action to get anywhere in life.
IT’S unthinkable that Bantu education served pupils in apartheid South Africa better than the new system does now – but that’s what the Eastern Cape’s Education boss believes. Acting superintendent-general Ronnie Swartz told the Dispatch in an exclusive interview this week that education in the province disadvantages pupils far more than apartheid ever did.
He made his remarks in a week that saw rioting replace teaching as pupils took to the streets to demand better education.
Swartz said he remained concerned about what the province’s education system was offering rural and township pupils who, he added, were being used to hold government to ransom.
“I made a point to senior managers here that what we are doing is worse than what apartheid has ever done. And I think the fact that they are most vulnerable is probably why the unions in particular, when they embark on these strike actions, hope that government will buckle as soon as possible.”
Just two months into the job, Swartz has been battling for control of his office in the face of union hostility.
Ironically, Swartz was a founder vice-president of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union, which has waged war on him as it did on his predecessor, Professor Harry Nengwekhulu.
Since his arrival in the province two months ago, Swartz has already had four altercations with employees, but unlike Nengwekhulu, he has taken immediate action.
“I laid charges of intimidation and damage to property and I issued letters of intention to suspend five officials. This was the fourth time that they tried to do this,” Swartz said, adding that employees, up to 70 at a time, often enter his office, chanting and dancing on tables.
The department has been marred by controversy in past months, with Nengwekhulu petitioning the court for protesting officials to be interdicted. The interdicts were later withdrawn after the ANC intervened.
Swartz said he suspected that frequent meetings and protests at the department were meant to portray Education MEC Mahlubandile Qwase as a leader with no control – and to mask corruption.
“This is all to disable the MEC and prevent him from leading the department in a more strategic direction. He has some great ideas and if he were allowed to move on these, it would make a huge difference.”
Eastern Cape education expert Dr Ken Alston was less optimistic about the department’s prospects, saying it was in a “shambles” .
He said without a work ethic among teachers, the province still had a long way to go.
Mzoleli Mrara, chairman of the Education portfolio committee said many of the problems within the department stemmed from decision made by former SGs, taken irregularly.
“The MEC has been asked to establish a task team took look at all these decisions. He is also to be commended on acting on issues in the department, including corruption,” Mrara said.