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H1: Why you should become a teacher in South Africa

Meta:  In South Africa, teachers are sorely needed to empower and change the lives of the youth

“Eighteen years after democracy, we have an education system we’re not proud of, an education system that destroys the future of our young people… That’s a great source of sadness.” Ramphele.

In a class of 100 Grade One pupils, a mere forty students will reach Grade 12 and only 28 of these individuals will matriculate. Only four students will be accepted at a university and only one student will graduate with a degree.

Becoming a teacher in South Africa is an incredibly noble, frustrating and ultimately rewarding undertaking. The education system in this country is inherently flawed and currently in a state of disarray, which means that it is of paramount importance that people step up and take on the role of educators, in order to better the current system and give children some hope of a future.

The current unemployment rate in SA has increased to 25.20 % in the first quarter of 2013. The only way that we can combat this frightening figure in a truly sustainable, meaningful way, is via education.

From seeking education jobs in Sedibeng Vereeniging and other communities, to joining active movements such as Equal Education, you have the power to make a difference. Equal Education is a ‘movement of learners, parents, teachers and community members working for quality and equality in South African education, through analysis and activism.’

The organisation’s most recent undertaking was to organise marches through the streets of Pretoria, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban in order to demand proper norms and standards for school infrastructure.

There has been an ongoing battle between the EE and the Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga, who has thus far failed to deliver on her promise to instigate ‘binding norms and standards for school infrastructure as provided for in the South African Schools Act.’

According to the Mail and Guardian, EE’s figures for South African schools are shocking: currently 3544 schools do not have electricity, 2611 do not have a reliable water supply, 401 have no water at all and 11450 are utilising pit toilets, while 913 do not have any toilet facilities. The majority of schools have no computer centres, laboratories or libraries.

In the Mother City, 2500 learners marched to Parliament to deliver a memorandum to a member of the basic education department. The Minister’s response, issued in a statement, was extremely worrying. Instead of focusing on the real issue at hand, she attempted to distract from it by reverting to a favourite tactic – race.

“To suddenly see a group of white adults organising black African children with half-truths can only be opportunistic, patronising and simply dishonest, to say the least.”

Pierre De Vos from the Daily Maverick quickly crafted a succinct replywhich outlines the fundamental problems with this argument – in essence, the Minister is being extremely patronising in her approach, taking away agency from black children by stating that they are incapable of perceiving how inferior and horrifically unequal education in this country is – despite the fact that the majority of these youths suffer from sub-standard schooling on a daily basis.

According to De Vos, “it is downright insulting for the Minister to suggest that learners who do not attend posh private schools or well-resourced suburban schools are either so stupid or so uninformed that they could be easily misled by a few mythical white adults.”

The Minister’s argument also seems to purposefully distract from the real issue at hand – the government is not doing its job. The Constitution clearly stipulates that everyone has the right to a basic education. One only has to do some research on the current state of education in this country to see that this is not happening. According to the South African Schools Act, part of equalising education is for the Minister to enforce minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure.

To date, none such norms have been prescribed. EE issued a court application in March 2012, after the ‘Minister of Broken Promises’ yet again failed to deliver these norms. The Minister settled with EE in November 2012, on the condition that she issued said standards before 15 May 2013. Now, this deadline has passed and another court order has recently been issued,once again compelling Motshekga to keep her word.

This article, although somewhat depressing, is also written with the intention to inspire. There are some amazing organisations, NGO’s and teachers in this country who are actively fighting to uplift current standards of education and to give South African children some hope.  If you have a passion for teaching and a heart for justice, then consider a career in education – it is perhaps the noblest vocation there is.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

“The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living differ from the dead.” Aristotle

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