Take ownership of our schools

I REFER to “War over E Cape education” (The Herald, July 1).

“One of the reasons for the collapse of the idealistic programmes of the mid-‘80s is that the subject of education has to draw upon the whole of human knowledge and experience to build up any kind of system that will work. This applies at the end where real efficiency is the criterion. But for decades in this country sheer neglect was a characteristic of the education systems prescribed for the oppressed.” (The Educational Journal, September 1989)

This lament is perhaps more excruciatingly applicable now that the education system has been put in place by those elected to office by “the oppressed” themselves.

One could hardly have imagined that things could get any worse in the Eastern Cape Education Department.

Yet we now have the spectacle that those primarily responsible, at national and provincial level, for this most important task do not know who is in charge!

The Journal in 1989 enjoined the “liberatory movement … to get down to fundamentals. Whatever goes on in the schools, our constant objective has to be to fight with whatever tools education places in our hands against the ignorance, prejudices, lack of skills and cultural stunting of the children of our nation-in-formation. Whoever is at school is a human being first and foremost.”

Communities have for too long been tolerant of “our government” and have allowed conditions in our schools to degenerate to this sorry state of affairs.

There has been a call for our communities to “take back the schools”.

It is time for parents, committed teachers and other serious parties to heed this call, time to get together to consider how to turn all our schools into paragons of education. Progressive communities can take charge of the destiny of their children.

The cries of the youth are becoming more and more desperate.

Those whom the ancients described as being “sages as far as the beard” have done enough harm.

Since they no longer know who is in charge, there is no better time than now for our communities to show where the power really lies.

Joe Dlamini-Jama, Port Elizabeth

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