Monday, January 11, 2010

Are SA's black parents failing their children ?

At various points in our history, we wrestled with (percieved) moments or periods of crisis. I would argue that, at least in the South African context, the recent publication of results of matriculants of 2009, signals that the serious crisis for the black community ain't over.

The Sunday Times (10-01-2010) editorial states, 'The national matric pass rate of 60.6%,which has been steadily declining since 2005, is a national disgrace.' The editorial continue correctly, 'The matric results are an important indicator of the quality of the country's education system', but then concludes naively, 'Taking politics out of the classroom and making teachers teach would be a good start'. If only it was that simplistic.

What did they miss here? They missed the fact, that it was black learners who failed, again (Here, I include African, Indian and coloureds, conscious of the fact that this could also jade the picture). Karen van Rooyen writes an article (in the same edition), where she states, 'Statistics for 2009, are not yet available, but in 2008 only 57% of the 460 000 black matrics passed, compared with the 99% of the 41 000 white matriculants.' This crisis is amongst the blacks, not the whites. The answers offered, at least here, therefore places the blame on the overwhelmingly black-led, ministry of education, SADTU and finally, on the black parents. Black parents are not interested in their child's development and, to put it bluntly: they are bad role models. The title of van Rooyen's article gloatingly ask the rhetorical question: 'Are SA's black parents failing their children?' If education is the key to development and progress, then the black community is evidently in deep trouble, and, according to this analysis, by their own making.

But let's delve deeper into this abyss. Of course, these results clearly debunks the notion (myth, dillusion) of a 'non-racial', 'multi-cultural', 'post-racial' (pick your favourate) rainbow paradise; or the parody of the post-colonial African state, where white people suffer brutally under policies of redress and the hands of vicious savages; whilst black people drive BMW's and sip expensive whiskey. What we find underneath these dilusions is the truth that not much have changed for the majority of black youth, as far as their future is concerned. This climate of despair is evident and is rife in working-class black communities and institutions and it impacts directly on the results we have seen. I've had many agonising conversations with teachers, in black communities (mostly coloured communities). They are at a loss for words to describe the utter desperation and powerlessness to simply teach (like the editor of The Sunday Times would have it). How do you teach young people, who are addicted to drugs, who are living by the grace of violent gang networks, whose parents crawl out before dusk to catch a taxi, only come home after dark, again dependant on the taxi's ? How can you expect them to walk to school meetings or use public transport after dark, to meetings in suburbs. How can these parents sit with projects and do internet searches, when they can barely afford 'koopkrag' (power). These black parents ensured that the white kids excel and be supported by the parents. Black schools are embedded in their communities and those few that excel, are the exception. The overwhelming majority of these schools however remain the bitter fruit of an elite transition, which left behind the 'throw away people', those left behind in the 'location', in the mukuku's, those who have to bear the brunt of the 'economic recession'. We must remember, that the so-called recession hit the working-class communities last year, in full blast. The elites got government bail-outs and golden handshakes for their mess. Government favour this elite and pay themselves handsomely for our 'peacefull' transition. But it came at a price. In a lucid exposition of the current elite transition, economist Sampie Terrblanche, shows in an article, (By 09-01-2010), how the current ANC-alliance, with white business, is gambling away the future of South Africa, in the way they enrich themselves. Terreblanche states that whilst, the capitalist ownersclass became a multi-racial since 1994, now 20% of the population, revieces and owns 74& of the country's income. The other 80 %, like in the story of Jesus about the poor man Lazarus, live from the crumbs that fall from the table of the rich man.

Chris Gibbons, conservative commentator, writes, 'At 23.6%, the country’s unemployment rate is the highest of 62 countries surveyed by Bloomberg News. Jonas Mosia, industrial policy co-ordinator at the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), estimates that the economy has lost “almost half a million jobs in the first half of 2009” and that “numbers could reach a million by the fourth quarter of 2009”. (Recession: what is SA doing about it ?) And let me add: the overwelming majority of those who lost their jobs, comes from these very same working-class communities-they are black. This is the kind of context in which black learners prepared for and wrote exams last year.

So whilst the ruling party, congratulates themselves, pat each other on the back and call each other 'comrade this' and 'cadre that', nothing much have changed. The crisis, but also the struggle for dignity, in the black community continues. This struggle remain political, but at the heart its a struggle rooted in the liberation struggle for the soul of the nation.
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