Lessons to be learned

According to a Finweek report last week, South African education is in crisis mode. The report reveals a serious skills shortage and a lack of resources, and says that more than half-a-million people were ejected from school with any passing certificate.

Last year’s report by Education Minister Naledi Pandor said that less than half of the 675 132 learners who started school in 1999 actually made it to matric. Of the 564 775 matriculants who wrote the year-end exam last year, more than 200 000 failed.

Part of the blame can be attributed to teachers: in 1999 only half of the country’s maths and science teachers had tertiary qualifications in these subjects. Poor remuneration also seems to be a problem. Between 1999 and 2004, an average of only 4,4% of matriculants achieved mathematics passes adequate for gaining entry into university to study natural sciences.

However, parents must take the lion’s share of blame. It seems many parents take only a cursory interest in their child’s education. How else to explain the massive failure rate?

Refugees
Up to 1 500 Zimbabwean refugees were arrested in a church in central Johannesburg last week, in what police termed a ‘sustainable crime-combat operations”. The police officers who conducted the raid say they were “legally authorised to eradicate criminal elements from the district and building”.


Central Methodist Bishop Paul Verryn and several refugees have complained that they were abused and pushed around by the police. While a certain amount of force may well be necessary in conducting such a large operation, it seems the police may have got carried away.

“I saw them assault people as they took them away in their vans,” the bishop said at the time. “One of them kicked a bottle at me and pushed me. I am able to identify those who pushed me. One of them said I am a disgrace to the church for allowing these people to come in.”

For many of the refugees, this church, across the road from Joubert Park, is their only hope in the big city. Many say they are appalled by the crime, and but for their penurious situation, would far prefer to be back home. The church provides shelter — even if it is only a stair on which to curl up — and a daily, affordable meal.

For his part, Gauteng community safety minister Firoz Cachalia expressed his “deep concern” at the allegations against the police officers, but appears not to be backing down.

“In order to be effective in fighting crime, all our police officers have to uphold the Constitution and behave in a professional manner at all times. We all agree that the police have an important role to play in fighting crime, protecting people and enforcing the laws of our country, which includes the immigration laws,” he said.

These refugees, and thousands like them, remain stuck between law enforcement (and a forced trip back home) and the charity of people like Verryn who look past the paperwork and see fellow humans in need.

  • A consortium that includes ANC investment company Chancellor House has signed another mega contract with Eskom, almost doubling the ruling party’s stake in — and expected profit from — the parastatal’s drive to build new power stations.

    2. Mugabe blows hole in quiet diplomacy
    Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe may have dealt a fatal blow to Pretoria’s “quiet diplomacy” by calling an election in the middle of mediation efforts by his South African counterpart, say analysts.

    3. Dept of Home Affairs — a red-tape nightmare
    When Kabelo Thibedi finally reached breaking point and pulled a gun on a civil servant at South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs, his act of desperation achieved instant results.

    4. How Kebble’s ghost will haunt Selebi
    When Jackie Selebi steps into the Randburg Regional Court on Friday, he faces a case cast in a matrix of evidence that appears solid enough to withstand the vacillations of Glen Agliotti, the prosecution’s fragile star informant. He also faces the ghost of Brett Kebble.

    5. ‘Go to sleep earlier’ as cuts start again
    South Africans can save electricity by going to sleep earlier and boiling less water, Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica told Parliament on Wednesday.

    6. Selebi ‘taking it on the chin’
    It will likely be a short first appearance for police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi in the Randburg Regional Court on Friday, a member of his legal team said.

    7. Selebi case postponed to June
    Police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi was charged with three counts of corruption and one of defeating the ends of justice in the Randburg Regional Court on Friday.

    8. Zuma takes charm offensive to the JSE
    Continuing his charm offensive to reassure businessmen and the investment community that his ascent to the leadership of the ruling party signifies no threat to the economy, Jacob Zuma on Thursday faced the bulls, bears and stags of the Johannesburg Securities Exchange.

    9. Going gaga for Iron Mike
    It was a match made in cartoon heaven: the guy with a shower on his head meets the guy with tattoos on his head; the man who says Zulu culture permits him sexual licence and the man who says America guarantees him regular blowjobs.

    10. Cape Town recovers from massive power cut
    The lights were on again in Cape Town by Saturday morning after most of the Mother City was plunged into darkness on Friday night due to a faulty power-supply line.

    Read more
    Our most-read stories for 2007
    Our most-read stories for 2006
    Our most-read stories for 2005

  • Subscribe to the M&G

    These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

    The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

    Related stories

    Covid-19 info lags as cases shoot up

    Vital information apps and websites are outdated as cases begin to mushroom, especially near the coast, just in time for the December holidays

    Student funding scheme gets new chief executive and board

    The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has been under administration for two years after its board was dissolved and its boss resigned not even halfway through his term

    Matric’s exam paper leaked

    Some learners in two provinces had access to the maths paper two leak a few hours before they sat for the exam

    Thousands of South Africans apply for land online

    The department of agriculture has received a plethora of online applications after it released about 500 000 hectares of land last month

    The ANC’s clean-up mission is causing a standoff

    ANC factions in several provinces are failing to abide by the dictates of the NEC’s decision that leaders who face corruption charges step aside from state and party posts

    More North West mayors face recall

    The ANC is wielding its axe to clear out ineffective councillors and those facing criminal charges
    Advertising

    Subscribers only

    Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

    Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

    ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

    In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

    More top stories

    Hope grows on Durban beachfront

    Ten homeless men who turned a vacant lot into an organic vegetable garden are now reaping the rewards of their toil

    Shabnim Ismail bowls her way into the record books Down...

    The night before Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) final, fiery South African fast bowler Shabnim Ismail lay awake pondering how...

    Hawks make arrest in matric maths paper leak

    Themba Daniel Shikwambana, who works at a printing company, was granted bail and is due to return to court in January

    Andile Lungisa: Early parole for the house of truth

    Disgraced Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa calls for a change of leadership in the ANC immediately after being released on parole
    Advertising

    press releases

    Loading latest Press Releases…