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MAIL & GUARDIAN: Education

The edge of reason

There have been few times in my life when sheer excitement has rendered me speechless. And even fewer when that excitement has caused my mouth to hang open in a zombie-like gawp.

Upgrading grades

The newly built entrance with a nightwatch shelter, and gates that have been daubed with a fresh coat of creamy white paint, send out a false signal about Moses Mnisi High School (MMHS).

Teaching is not for the faint-hearted

Someone once said: ''Those who can, do and those who can't, teach.'' I suppose that might depict the majority of us currently in the profession as no-hopers and failures. However, this is hardly the case as the demands on a teacher today are simply enormous and stressful. As our communities have changed and adjusted under the pressures of the modern world, so too have our children and their families. Teaching, today, is not for the faint-hearted.

From e-rate to irate

Long-awaited legislation to allow schools cheaper access to the Internet has been approved - more than four years after the Department of Education and the Department of Communications introduced the idea in a policy document.

The medical aid learning curve

Teachers and their colleagues across the public service sector are currently "marking" the government's report card on a vital subject: meeting employee healthcare needs through affordable medical scheme benefits.

Born free

What do South Africa's ''born frees'' - who came into the world after the death of apartheid, or were too young to remember it - know about their country's traumatic past? Have our children been changed by 12 years of democracy?

Governing bodies split

The only two organisations in South Africa that have been representing the interests of school governing bodies (SGBs) have both split -- ahead of the next round of SGB elections that will start next month.

Setting up house

Buying a new home has just become a great deal cheaper. In February, Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel announced that all homes under R500 000 will attract no transfer duty. This is a saving of up to R17 000. At the same time, the banks have become far more aggressive in offering better rates for home loans -- you just need to shop around to find the right package.

Building democratic schools

In a months time, thousands of parents will gather in school halls and classrooms to vote for their representatives on school governing bodies (SGBs). As in any good political battle, there will be jostling for positions and plenty of promises. Once the ballots have been tallied, these parent representatives will meet with teaching and non-teaching staff and learner representatives, often after a work day or on a Saturday. The meetings will take place at least once a term, to discuss, argue and debate issues ranging from the maintenance of buildings to exemption from school fees.

Women race for top Harvard job

The words Harvard and knee-jerk are not often seen in the same sentence, but when a rumoured shortlist of candidates to succeed outgoing president Larry Summers pops up and the majority of the names on it are women, there is good cause.

On the wild side

If you want an inexpensive weekend getaway less than two hours from Johannesburg and Pretoria, the Pilanesberg National Park in the North West offers a fantastic bush breakaway.

E Cape schools off to a rocky start

Coastal provinces generally matched the successes recorded in the inland provinces when their schools reopened late in January. One of the problem areas was the Eastern Cape, in particular regarding the renewal of temporary teachers' contracts and the delivery of textbooks and stationery.

Passing, for now

Initial impressions of the re-opening of schools in January suggest a huge improvement compared with previous years. Recurring problems include overcrowding, supply of textbooks and state-subsidised transport - but on a far smaller scale than has been experienced in the past.

Practical solutions to science

When Poovan Chetty, a maths and science teacher from Nigel Secondary School, departed for a 10-week study visit to the United States, some of his learners were devastated.

A haven of hope

Johannesburg's only school for learners with poor sight or multiple disabilities runs more on determination than hard cash. Bronwen Jones founded the Johannesburg School for Blind, Low Vision and Multiple Disability Children - also known as Beka - in Auckland Park in 2003.

A natural way of learning

Iona Blakely-Milner was afraid her son would become one of the nation's guinea pigs when C2005 first arrived in schools. So she embarked on her own experiment of home schooling her child when he was in Grade 4.

In touch and independent

It has been 17 years since the Independent Examination Board (IEB) took up the reins from the old joint matriculation board as an independent examination assessor.

Myth busting

South Africa has a long tradition of private education. Some of the first education institutions in the country were missionary schools. The growth of private schooling accelerated during the apartheid period and by 1990 there were about 500 private schools in South Africa. Unfortunately, perceptions of private schools have remained largely unchanged since 1990, while the sector itself has changed significantly in the past 15 years. This has led to several myths regarding private schools that need to be dispelled.

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