SA school system based on ‘dumbing down’ – Jonathan Jansen

Riyaz A. Patel

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There is a lack of understanding in government about the extent of the country’s education crisis, says professor Jonathan Jansen of Stellenbosch University’s education faculty.

Jansen believes the entire South African school system is based on a “dumbing down” approach.

“The problem is that the SA government does not think there is a problem in the education system. Maybe President Cyril Ramaphosa is mainly focused on SOE challenges,” Jansen recently told the annual conference of the SA Property Owners’ Association (SAPOA) in Cape Town.

Jansen further questioned the subjects taught at schools. “SA is the only country with a stupid subject like ‘life orientation’ and mathematical literacy is just ‘maths for dummies’. Every child can do maths. There is nothing wrong with our kids and yet the entire school system is based on the basis that kids cannot do this,” Jansen said.

“Of course we must be clear: the first big problem in SA is inequality. We basically have two unequal school systems in SA. I am amazed that you can have a school with three astro turfs and a polo pool and 10km away a kid can drown in his own shit. How do we live with it? And yet the government says we are doing well because of our matric scores,” Jansen added.

“Inequality is one thing, but the SA education system is also very inefficient, getting very little at the output level. For every 100 kids starting in grade 1 only 37 pass matric, only 12 go to university.”

In Jansen’s view, this is wasteful in the extreme.

“Research indicates that 78% of grade 4 children in SA cannot read for meaning in any language. How can you expect graduates of quality?” asked Jansen.

“I am amazed that you can have a school with three astro turfs and a polo pool and 10km away a kid can drown in his own shit. How do we live with it? And yet the government says we are doing well because of our matric scores.”

Professor Jonathan Jonathan Jansen

Jansen said the first thing he would do if Minister of Education would be to ensure a massive investment to make sure every child gets a solid pre-school education. Then he would retrain all teachers on how to teach.

“If we do the basics right, the rest will follow,” he said.

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