Education is the foundation, the root, the sprout from which our current and next generation will lead and engender from. Therefore, having the best educational system in the world ensures me, you and our children a fighting change, albeit pugnacious. This statement is disseminated and broadcasted as fact and the average Joe accepts it as the truth. However, this essay will point directly at the historical and political impediment existing in and on the emotion of the number one South African, me. My essay taunts the question:”As a 40 year old white Afrikaans man, where do I stand in the South African educational system?”, and does it conform to the statement to be the best in the world. I ask the question in all honesty and respect. I am reflecting on education I attained as an Afrikaans “silver spoon in the mouth” little brat right through to my more sensible self Technical College tuition and my current B-COM studies as a self reliant adult.
Historically, my peers and I were advantaged by the system in place, much more than our counterparts in the townships and homelands. I believe that the powers ruled then had only the best intentions for the educational portfolio, albeit it was one-sided in the racial arena. The story of our lives. The institutions that were build and the standards academically set was internationally very high. I firmly believe this basis where we as the new generation sprung from, was based on the system already in place. The difference is, now we can engender from the same mark. We have the brick and mortar that separated the black from white now as monuments of growth and unity, known as Universities. We have the seats and blackboards. We have the prospectus. We have the fervent minds of prospective students. This is the formula for an educational system of note. One important ingredient lacks this recipe of success: Emotion. The emotional scars that on all sides of all the political fences erected end torn down over and again remains as barriers and brick walls in the minds of us, the students.
Being brought up and instructed that white is white and black is black and the two don’t mix, I soon realized and discerned myself with the fact that the black children could not share in the same educational system. It was the year 1983 when I was starting my high school education this realization came to be. It was clear to see the technical equipment installed in the white schools was not equal to that installed for the black children. This point in my life was the pivot of my social and political views. An immense amount of guilt and shame fell upon me and I had to hide this not to be shunned from my peers. The fact that my emotions were suppressed added to my shame and guild. So the emotional wall I mentioned grew stronger and stronger. Separation from your mother tongue whilst being educated is an enormous social blunder politicians the world over are making. The emotional impact a child in learning has with his or her home language not present during schooling is a lifelong scar on the psyche.
Not only does it scar, it places a lid on the information these young minds needs to harvest. I had it all fed in my mother tongue from day one. My black peers not. How can a child from a Tswana, Zulu or Venda upbringing now be educated in Afrikaans or English? I feel for the individual that now wants to through the language as a hand grenade in the education war on foreign language in the institutions we get taught at. Why was my language removed from the universities and colleges I want to attend to? Or better asked “why is my language not present in the current prospectus?” I understand the technical terms and application theories much better in my mother tongue. This I’m asking not as an individual, I’m asking this as every single student you teach and educate every single day. This, my dear educator, this is a historical and political impediment existing in and on the emotion of not just your number one South African, me, but on many, if not all students.
Furthermore and albeit it not be the least, who should pay for my education? I am and average income earner. I can pay for myself, but, I will not be able to sustain my current situation and send one of my children to university. I cannot fathom the impact it has on lower income families. The mere thought that it would change financially after the graduation and after employment status was reached because of the education, does not balance the situation throughout the period. The scholarship and sponsorships given to young students are great. And here comes a big but, why only to certain ethnic groups? Don’t we all suffer? Our current students did not take part in the historical events that shaped our New South Africa.
The foundation of our New South Africa rest squarely on their shoulders and it is their responsibility to maintain and ensure prosperity for one and all. By advantaging and allowing one group to benefit on majority defies the Rainbow Nation’s idea. The students that cannot afford to be where we are and those who can barely sustain their presence amongst us, with the paying surplus of students, see this and feel this on the emotion. It cuts deep to be separated. We came a long and hard way to prevent just this. It is not fair to impend this politics on the minds and emotion of any student.
The emotional scars on all sides are real and remain as barriers and brick walls in the minds of us, the students, the student that wrote this essay. This is encumbering the South African Educational system to be the best in the world. Nevertheless I have to believe, I do believe and I trust and pray that our educational system has a place for me and my peers. I therefore conclude, I pray and I hope that my fellow students and I can oversee the sins of our fathers. That we can leap forward and expect to be followed in, English education as language of the future educational system. I hope for financial aid that will accommodate all who needs it. I pray to my fellow students, educators and fellow South Africans to see the future of our education and where it can lead us. I pray for them not to let the past influence and dictate the Educational System’s future. This done, I believe we have the best educational system in the world. We can make the difference.