I have long wanted to write this post, and have long been reluctant to do so, for reasons that will become obvious. My trigger here is the mini-discussion in the Shoutbox about SA’s educational standards.
Well, I have been a math and science teacher myself, and I can tell you why the standards have dropped so low: it’s the only way these poor darlings will stand any chance at all to pass matric (and even so, they mostly fail or scrape through!) That question in which they have to use a ruler to measure a line on the paper is actually quite appropriate, because in my personal experience, a very large percentage of South Africans can not, in fact, use a ruler to measure anything. Or use one to draw a straight line, for that matter. Ask them to draw, say, a grid on a piece of paper, with cells of 1 cm square each? I bet you the bulk of our matriculants will not be able to do it. Some years ago I bought a piece of hardboard from a hardware store to use for art; I asked them to cut it exactly in half. The technician couldn’t do it: he didn’t know how to divide the piece of board into two sections of equal size. Ask the average South African matriculant to follow written instructions, and he cannot do it. Ask him to write a note in such a way that someone else can understand what he wrote, and he cannot do it. Ask him to neatly draw and cut some shapes out of a piece of paper with a pair of scissors, and he cannot do it either - our average matriculant can, quite literally, not pass a kindergarten test of basic skills.
It’s not just STEM stuff either. Nowadays I give weekly art lessons at a local private school, and I see the same thing: fine motor skills years behind where they should be at the pupils’ age, a total inability to focus, a virtual absence of the most basic decent manners or ambition or willingness to work, a complete, utter, total lack of self-confidence. It’s our national matric results disaster already in the making, at primary school level.
And now for the promised elephant in this room, that nobody wants to talk about because doing so might actually earn you a prison sentence in this country. The above mentally deficient folks all have this in common: they’re all black South Africans. There, I’ve said it. It is not that South Africans are stupid and incompetent. It’s black South Africans that are stupid and incompetent.
I can forgive the reader if he now jumps to the conclusion that I must be a racist. But no, read on! Read my above paragraph carefully: I did not say blacks. Or Africans. I said, specifically, black South Africans. And I say this because every time I meet one of the many immigrants from the rest of Africa that we have here, I am struck by their intelligence, competence, literacy, knowledge, quiet confidence and industriousness. Quite frankly, they make most white South Africans look rather average by comparison. They make black South Africans look like freaking imbeciles. Remember that hardware store technicians I mentioned above? I have noticed that in the local hardware stores they nowadays mostly employ immigrants from up north: these folks have no problem at all with doing mental arithmetic, or measuring things, or neatly cutting them.
The guy who does the plumbing here where I live is an immigrant from Zimbabwe. When he started out on a few years ago, he worked alone and carried his tools by hand. Now he owns a vehicle and runs a small company, employing several people. Now go to any high school in Mamelodi, take a look at their matric classes, and ask yourself how many of those kids could even begin to duplicate this feat. For that matter, how many lily-white matriculants in Waterkloof High could do it?
So no. Whatever the Dan Roodts of this world will have us know, it has zilch to do with race as such. There is something in the culture of South Africans, but specifically black South Africans, that is sabotaging our entire future. I have some ideas as to what it is, but I’d like to get some input from other members here (particularly black ones, if we have any).
We’re on a sinking ship, and I am tired of rearranging the deck chairs while trying my best to ignore the obvious. Well, who knows: perhaps I’ll be arrested next week and publicly crucified, and we can go on pretending like we cannot see what is right in front of our eyes.
What say you?