Don't overload 'life-rafts' of quality

This letter is a response to the front page story of the February 2004 edition, ‘Lawlessness rules”. As an educator myself, I empathise with the educators at Gelvandale Senior

Secondary School in Port Elizabeth.

Obviously they are doing something right if they have been enjoying a near-100% pass rate.
They must be committed, conscientious and hardworking in order to achieve such results, very often under adverse

conditions. Ask any teacher.

It is very easy for politicians to condemn certain policies of schools and demand rights — especially when they think that it will gain them votes. But I wonder if they would endure teaching for one week under the circumstances that they have created.

There is sound logic behind limiting the intake of a school. It is not about excluding the right of others to a good education, but about the right of those in the school to have a good education. You know what happens if everybody on a sinking ship jumps on to a life raft and overloads it. It sinks. Everybody on board perishes. The measures taken to prevent this might seem extreme in some cases but it is to safeguard those on board.

The same goes for not readmitting pupils who have twice failed. Why do pupils fail in a school with a near-100% pass rate? There could be many reasons but we should not overlook that the learner could be responsible for this. Schools should investigate what the problem is and have intervention programmes, but you can only do so much. If a learner doesn’t do his/her share, should they continue filling a desk that someone more eager to learn could fill? The school governing body, together with the parents of a school, should decide on the admission policy.

The measures that African National Congress MPL Christian Martin took to get everybody onboard were not very considerate. Not being an educator, he might not fully understand what consequences his demands would have. His actions could jeopardise the very education that he seems to be championing. Are there no other schools in the region? Was there really no other way out?

Let us not sink the few life rafts of quality education that we have.

Marius Pretorius


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