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Teacher save me, please. Teacher save the world, please.

Posted by: GeraldineKent


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’.

Education today

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.


Related Articles:

 “Schooling that hampers development"

"MDG's at a Glance"

'Education For All' Global Monitoring Report

Comments (7)Add Comment
written by Ryc0v, May 31, 2011
Hopefully the joint effort by the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Education to provide widespread broadband connections will help South Africa realise these goals. smilies/smiley.gif

Easy to counter-act poor teaching when you can supplement with online content.
written by GeraldineKent, May 31, 2011
Thank you for your comment.

I do hope that with South Africa's latest municipal elections, necessary change takes place in every sphere in our country.

Online content can have the potential to be beneficial to our children, IF we are able to establish the broadband connections at an AFFORDABLE rate to ALL citizens.

Perhaps a more realistic goal is the switch to digital television? Sufficient planning from the SABC and partners could enable digital television connections and set-top boxes to provide interactive learning channels between households, so perhaps that can be extended between schools?

All great ideas. The important thing is to get them to the powerful people who use their money in a charitable way.
written by Laurenvdv, May 31, 2011
Great post. I work at Grocott's Mail in Grahamstown and I constantly hear about township schools who have to share a few pens in a class of 40. This seriously needs to change. Education is a right that every child holds. I wonder what the organisation 1 GOAL: EDUCATION FOR ALL is doing to put pressure on governments to provide education? While many have signed up for the organisation, what will this actually initiate?

written by GeraldineKent, May 31, 2011
During all their campaigning throughout the FIFA Soccer World Cup 2010, I signed up to 1 GOAL. I have received only two emails in over 6 months, regarding petitions to be signed. But other than that nothing. The problem with that organisation is that they are promoting the idea of uniting voices, not raising money. Which IS important, but I don't think will ever be as beneficial as raising funds and developing poor schools.
written by BakingBee, May 31, 2011
I think the most important role that education plays is make people aware of gender related issues, on environmental related issues and language related issues. Yes, yes, science and maths is important but I feel that the world as a whole tends to put more emphasis on science, technology and mathematics. And they forget about language, history, art and other such humanities subjects. And this is not because I am a humanities student. And they forget about education versus learning - you can know how to configure a geometrical equation but you manipulate your spouse and miss treat you children; or you have a Ph.D. in medicine but you do not recycle a drop of waste and you leave your laptop and cellphone charger plugged in regardless of whether it is being used. Maybe you can tease out this idea (in another blog) of education in a box versus awareness of issues...?

Did you hear about the Afrikaans Language society of South Africa working towards having all children in South Africa being able to have their foundations years of school in their mother tongue. What do you think about the mother tongue issue? I agree with this idea, having say grades 1-3 in mother tongue. However, what needs to be considered is the switch that then happens from the mother tongue to English. English has a hugely elevated position across the world and is the working language in South Africa. This I am not disputing - I am not disputing that students should learn English well enough to do business in it. What I feel strongly about is that the other languages, the mother tongues of the students, need to be elevated to the same position. This might make the switch from a mother tongue (other than English) to English smoother. What do you think? This might make for an interesting post...? (hope the long comment is ok!)
written by GeraldineKent, June 01, 2011
@BankingBee, thank you so much for such in insightful comment. I really appreciate your input, ideas and opinions. You raise very important points that I will definitely consider for future posts - so please keep checking for more posts!
written by Dissol, July 25, 2011
Good post.
But one missing data point is the admission from the Department of Education that 250,000 children with disablities are "not accounted for" in the present educational system. So in other words 1/4 million children will face the double whammy of not only living with a disability, but also lacking a proper education.

Building more special education schools is not the answer. While there will always be a need for a (very small) proportion of children that require such interventions that they can only be done in a specific environment, the vast majority of children in these establishments now, ought to be in mainstream schools. The sad reality is that very few special educational establishments are either special, nor even educational. That is not to lessen the efforts of the many incredible people that work in those under-resourced establishments.

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