Posted by: GeraldineKent on May 30, 2011
This week's blog post will look at The Millennium Development Goal number 2, which is as follows:
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Target 2A: By 2015, all children can complete a full course of primary schooling, girls and boys
o Enrolment in primary education
o Completion of primary education
o Literacy of 15-24 year olds, female and male
I personally think that this is the most important of all the goals. I say that because I believe that if the Education systems of the world were well established, sufficiently funded and well equipped to take in every child that is entitled to the right to education, then many of the problems that the other seven goals are trying to combat, might be more easily solvable. I will discuss this in relation to the South African context.
Education + Seven MDG’s
If every child was able to attend school and all these schools offered, if not more at least the most basic level of education, it would mean the following:
-- Every child might stand a better chance at later being employed or becoming an entrepreneur, which would help eradicate unemployment, poverty and hunger
-- Every child might be educated enough to understand gender equality, eradicating discrimination, xenophobia and other such abstract issues
--More children might surpass the mortality rate of children, because their families (educated and self-sufficient) would not be living in disease-ridden, impoverished standards
--More mothers might be educated enough to better take care of themselves and their own health in terms of being smart about HIV/AIDS, TB and other common diseases that a lot of mothers, and subsequently children, suffer from in South Africa and Africa.
--As previously stated, if parents were well educated, they could make informed decisions about their health, combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and cholera. Educated children might also be more aware of preventative measures, decreasing and preventing further spreading of these diseases.
--Often people are not adequately contributing to movements on sustainability and development because they aren’t properly educated on HOW they can help. If this kind of education was weaved into basic primary education, more children might grow up with a more environmentally-friendly alignment.
--And lastly, if every country can send a higher number of educated children into the working world, more people will be adequately equipped to work on the ‘global partnership for development’.
Sarah McGregor wrote an article for IPS News in 2007 and now four years later in 2011, it doesn’t seem like much has changed in the education system of South Africa.
''Universal primary education by 2015 is genuinely achievable,'' said David Archer, head of education at the international nongovernmental organisation ActionAid. ''But there needs to be a significant change in effectiveness, better management and better use of funding.''
I have firsthand experience of these funds not being adequately distributed. When researching information on access to ICT facilities in Joza township of Grahamstown, all the high schools I visited had not received any Government funds with which to upgrade or expand their classroom facilities, in terms of books, computers, stationery and textbooks.
The UN Department of Public Information released a report, “The Millennium Development Goals at a Glance” in March 2010, which details the following progress in the education departments:
“The net enrolment ratio in primary education [in 2010] was 74% in sub-Saharan Africa, a 16 percentage point improvement since 2000.”
“In Tanzania, the abolition of school fees in 2001 led to a net enrolment rate of 98% for primary schooling in 2006. This represents an increase of 97% (i.e. almost double) compared to 1999 enrolment rates.”
South Africa as it stands
Both of these statistical statements argue for the idea of free education, being made available to all South African and African children and the positive improvements seen in both are encouraging.
When thinking about South Africa, I fear that positive improvements are still years away because our government is called out for lack of adequate funds distribution to departments like Education, Arts and Culture and Sport. It is not difficult to notice the lavish lifestyles many of our ministers and government officials are enjoying, as a result of their generous salary cheques. Unless we can curb this corruption, there is little means with which we can hope to successfully improve our education system.
Where to from here?
South Africa's nongovernmental Institute of Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) concluded in a recent study that 80 percent of schools offer education ''of such poor quality that they constitute a very significant obstacle to social and economic development''.
So, do we need petitions? Or strikes? Or a 100% matric failure? Or NO teachers in order to get the government to realise that they are depriving their country of valuable citizens by denying them the right to education.
It’s time to realise this is a truly valuable human right and it needs to be fought for.