The President of South Africa Jacob Zuma addressed a rally and said it was the government’s plan to provide free education to all learners. People have to love this president, for making such a generous gesture of aiming to educate South Africans. The current education system has collapsed, and there is not enough money to fix the country’s electricity supply, the water crisis needs urgent attention, and Zuma is talking about creating industrialists.
Zuma said education should not have a price tag, and education should not be sold as a product or only available to minorities. Zuma said the African National Congress (ANC) party was serious about free education. During the speech, the president said that if the government were dictators the police would ensure all children attended school and children addicted to drugs would be forced to go to Robben Island for education. However, the president said the government was not dictators and, therefore, would aim to provide free education, and this would help to break the shackles of poverty.
At first Zuma would have to get people to become qualified educators to educate learners. It would be an attempt to get the people trained not to burn down schools when anger and resentment are aimed at government failures. There have been serious incidents in the past when schools have been destroyed, not enough equipment, no textbooks and standards lowered to such an appalling degree that learners graduate without any knowledge.
While it might be said that Mathematics and Science are the foundation of any modern economy, the results obtained by students throughout South Africa spells doom for standards of living and any hope of progress. The students in South Africa have underperformed in both language and mathematics. The numeracy and literacy levels are lowered causing hopelessness, anger and violence through a useless education system.
The ANC should have in all earnest began investing in education 21 years ago and, unfortunately, have now produced a generation that will not be employed due to substandard education grades. Education will certainly help to fix the current problems that the country is experiencing and at the same time might hamper the ANC rule. Educated people will understand democracy and might not vote for the ANC.
Presently, free education in South Africa is working at school entry level but the conditions of these no fee schools are appalling. At times, there is no electricity or water due to unpaid bills. Teachers are not paid salaries on time, due to the Education Department delaying payments. Schools are not maintained; sports fields are no longer in use, long grass and weeds cover the once cherished place of the schools. There is no security at the free schools as budgets could not afford additional expenses, along with a never ending list of wrongs that must be corrected.
Zuma is using the offer of free education as a tactic to garner votes and support ahead of the 2016 provincial elections. The plan to build other tertiary institutions is a challenge for the ANC government according to Zuma and obtaining space in which to build would be a difficult undertaking. The promise of free education is indeed a promise young learners might hold Zuma accountable for, and if this promise does not bear fruit, there might be fierce protests around the country. Today’s young students believe that the ANC was built by thinkers, people who did not fear debate, critics unafraid to confront issues. There is the belief that ANC members are mentally constrained people who need to come back from their exiled minds and openly debate all the negatives happening in South Africa. There are the learners who believe that education is a dying system, and teachers are no longer in control. Nevertheless, the fact that President Zuma is aiming for free education in South Africa would certainly raise the bar if achieved.
Opinion by Laura Oneale
News24 – SA is aiming for universal free education – Zuma
Photo Courtesy of Sino Majangaxa Wikimedia – Public Domain License