There's been a lot for me to reflect on in the last while. It's not just that it's the beginning of another year and so a time for new resolutions and all that. It's also because I am moving on from <i>the Teacher</i>.
'Half-naaitjies [little bastards].” This is one of the stinging labels that children of farm labourers in South Africa have endured for generations. Children like these have, for centuries, been denied any value beyond the cheap muscle-power they provide to farm owners.
Heated words are flying between the Department of Education and teacher unions as they blame each other for the faltering process of teacher appraisals. The snail's pace at which the Integrated Quality Management System has unfolded is the crux of the trouble, as time frames agreed to in 2003 have not been met.
<i>The teacher</i> spoke to the new Director General of Education, Duncan Hindle, about his life in education so far. Hindle started teaching in 1979 at Maritzburg College, where he was also a student. He has also served as president of the South African Teacher's Union for a year in 1995.
The next best thing to travelling to other countries is meeting foreigners in your own. So, even before the International Confederation of Principals (ICP) convention began earlier this month, I was relishing the prospect of gathering with more than 2 000 principals from 33 countries as diverse as Ghana, Canada and Singapore.
Why is it that the public gets so silly and hysterical when the issue of language in education is raised? Suddenly there's an unholy tizz played out in the media, shrieks of incoherent distress that you'd expect only when the cockroaches finally take over the world.
If you asked someone to list 10 words they associate with South Africa, "crime" would almost certainly be among them. With 35 000 young people under the age of 21 currently awaiting trial or sentenced and imprisoned, it would seem that lawlessness is going to be a defining feature of South Africa for a long time to come.
I have a question for all teachers and principals: do you feel free to speak to the media? Or do you find yourselves "censored" -- either because your district manager tells you that you can't be interviewed by a journalist without going through the official "channels" or because the Voice of the Department speaks on your behalf?