Posted by: GeraldineKent on Apr 26, 2011
Tagged in: world cup , wix , Twitter , teacher strike , sustainability , south africa , Soccer World Cup , private corporations , parastatal , ngo , Microsoft Office , johannesburg , internet , ICT , government school , fifa world cup 2010 , FIFA , Facebook , email , Education , Easter , development
I was lucky enough to come home to Johannesburg for the Easter weekend. It has been a very busy, very short break. But a much deserved one nevertheless! Whilst spending some time with my extended family, my youngest cousin, Sabrina, was talking about all the plans she has for her school holidays. And my younger brother, Bradley, became very upset when he realised that Sabrina was going to be on holiday until next week Tuesday, 3 May 2011. The reason this upset my brother, is because Sabrina goes to a government school (unlike my brother who is a private, Catholic school), which means she has already had her first term break. Being allowed to miss seven days of school, in the middle of term time, is usually a very difficult thing to get away with.
All the fuss that ensued between the cousins and the parents, and many a calendar and date-specific explanation later, I began thinking about how easily the academic time at government schools seems to be disrupted.
Last year, being 2010, was a big year for South Africa. We were the first African country to host the FIFA Soccer World Cup. But the scheduling of the World Cup meant that all schools had a four-week break in the middle of the year. This in itself wasn’t a bad thing. But coupled with the saga of Government-teachers striking towards the end of the year, there was a crisis in the education sector of our country.
Matric pupils were put at a major disadvantage having lost at least two weeks of teaching time during the extended June/July holiday period; and then they were abandoned by their teachers who were more concerned about demanding higher salaries, than they were about their pupils who were desperately trying to prepare for their final school exams.
Almost a year later, and my cousin was in a similar position – school days were just being sliced off of her calendar. The only difference is that this year, the government have stipulated that each school must make up the lost time and present evidence of this before a certain deadline.
So, can we take this new plan as an indication that the Government took the time to learn from their mistakes and re-adjust their system in order to best benefit school pupils? Maybe. Maybe not.
The education system, on an international level, is the most important sector of any country’s structural development. Without a stable, well-resourced, accomplished education system, there is little hope that the children of the future will hold much promise. That said, NGO’s, government, private corporations and state parastatals need to begin to work harder to rectify the problems of South Africa’s education system. I include private corporations and parastatals because they have the wealth to adequately contribute to development.
In order to stimulate sustainability, especially in a developing country like South Africa, I strongly feel that we need to incorporate the IT sector into the way something like education is offered to school pupils.
Each child deserves the chance to learn how to use the simple things like Microsoft Office, Internet surfing and Email usage. Equally so, all school children deserve the chance to learn how to create their own blog, connect with social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and promote themselves to potential employees with an interactive CV on Wix.
If every child was to currently be on an equal level in terms of education, access to reliable internet, and a qualified IT teacher, I believe there would be more hope for matriculants to become entrepreneurs, able to promote their business online; online editors for major publications; well-paid employees who found good jobs online, and so much more.
A major part of sustainability is adequate development and education. In order to secure a more sustainable environment for South Africa, we first need to develop an affordable way for the whole nation to access the internet and all the opportunities it could offer them. But before that even, we need qualified educators to prepare South Africans, specifically children, for the overwhelming nature of the online world. And lastly, we need to make the education and employment sectors well integrated with the online sphere, to ensure that more South Africans are connected and ready to face the realities of the future, one of which is the issue of sustainability.