The Democratic Alliance (DA) official opposition party in South Africa issued a report saying that their teachers cannot teach children to read. According to the report, teacher training is not sufficient to ensure that children are taught to read. The act of instilling awareness of the importance of reading is absent.
Dr. Nick Taylor, CEO of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit, presented his findings at an education conference and maintained that teachers were not specializing in English, the dominant medium of instruction. Teachers are not receiving adequate training to teach in English. Taylor admitted that, although a framework is in place, it lacks proper standards for teacher training. Taylor emphasized that no attempt has been made to control the standards at different universities in South Africa.
Annette Lovemore of the DA said that teachers who receive four years of training and are still not able to teach students to read should not be allowed. There is a total lack of competency by teachers who do not encourage students to read and infuse the desire for knowledge. It appears that teachers are poorly trained and cannot develop the additional skills required to educate the learners effectively.
The DA has raised the problem of education standards in South Africa and urgently seeks a response from the government regarding improving the fundamental right of children to learn to read. The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, told a different story about the education standards implemented over the past 20 years. Zuma stated that steady progress has been made in the development of education. Zuma commented on the improvement in matric results over recent years, the provision of support by government and the need to increase teaching in mathematics and science.
At a meeting in Pretoria, Zuma said the African National Congress (ANC) has built modern school facilities with the aim of delivering a competent learning environment. Zuma stated that investment into the future of education is needed, and further educational facilities need to be developed. Zuma issued a call for teachers and principals to get further training in order to manage schools properly.
Teaching children to read is a problem, especially in the rural areas. A principal of a rural KwaZulu-Natal school stated that there are a vast number of girls who do not complete their education due to becoming pregnant. Although the girls are allowed to return to school to complete their education after the birth of their baby most do not, and chose to stay at home. A range of factors contributes to the children not completing school and include social services, social pressure and poor health, according to the principal.
A public school near Carolina, Mpumalanga has shown disparity toward students, and teachers are often the cause of instilling fear into the minds of the pupils. Several students stated that teachers leave the children to their own devices during class while teachers spend time texting on cell phones. Learners have complained that teachers are not contributing to their learning, and the students are reprimanded and victimized for complaining.
The basic fundamentals of teaching children the importance of knowledge is missing and often the cause of failures in the schools. The lowering of the score required to pass exams to 30 percent ensures the majority of students will pass. Students have revealed that teachers often give the answers to tests in an attempt to allow the learners to pass rather than fail. The opportunity to rewrite failed tests is allowed, thereby ensuring a high pass rate.
Throughout South Africa, schools continue to lower the standard of education and extramural activities or sports are not encouraged. Most schools are abandoned in the early afternoon, leaving the students to be enticed into gangs rather than sport. The high crime rate around the country does not help encourage education. Many young children grow up without access to nutrition and decent healthcare, contributing to a lethargic mentality.
Teaching the children to read and activating the passion for knowledge is not infused by teachers who should realize the significance of of what they are intended to do. Teachers cannot teach the children to read until they commit to the importance of education in South Africa.
Opinion by Laura Oneale