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The educational system of any country would not be properly managed if a specific set of principles were not emphasized by law. During the apartheid era, certain principles were observed in the creation of Bantu Education, People’s education as well as the Christian National Education. The post-apartheid era of learning has its own educationally governing principles that I aim to discuss and further address on how they can influence transformation in the unjust circumstances existing in our country. An examination of five principles of education and an evaluation of certain points concerning the imbalanced structure of the South African education, will serve as focal points of this essay.
Equity is mostly used in conjunction with equality and can be defined as the process through which fairness is administered so that equality can be attained. Different individuals may observe the efforts of equity as if they favour inequality but this is not so. Suppose one learner has an old school uniform shirt and another one has a seemingly newer shirt, then the effort of equity would be to donate a newer shirt to the learner who is in need and not to both of them.
Pre-existing biases and prejudices in South African communities may perpetuate some form of discrimination against other learners, resulting in societal inequities. Programmatic inequities also exist since school programs may also teach more about certain cultural contexts while marginalizing other cultures. Social inequities can be dealt with through Life Orientation lessons since teachers can use the subject of HIV/AIDS.
Instead of using examples of infected people who are from disadvantaged backgrounds in case studies or scenarios (as the media mostly does), teachers can use examples of more influential people or those from more privileged backgrounds. Such examples will help learners become aware that social status does not make one invisible from the realities of the world. This will in turn prevent learners from more privileged backgrounds from approaching society with arrogant behaviour. Teachers can also transform their own curricula into multi-culturally accommodative curricula to prevent the silencing of other cultural voices in their subjects. This can be accomplished in English classes when teaching different concepts. More African-authored novels, local newspapers and magazines can be used to teach content more especially because the Western context is more dominant in the facilitation of subject content South African schools.
It is most clear to define redress as the correction of injustices that exist or have existed within the education system. Redress serves as a way of compensating and fixing that which can cause and has caused damage to certain individuals. The focus of this principle can be drawn on to the education system that was meant for black people during apartheid. Horsthemke (2005, pp. 196) quotes the words of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu when he referred to Bantu Education as “the most evil of all pieces of apartheid legislation” because of its deliberate and subjective motive that was intended for black South Africans. “In the call of the Truth Reconciliation Commission that was set up after the first democratic election of South Africa, …, there has now been a call for a TRC for education specifically” (Horsthemke, 2005, pp. 170).
The Bantu Education system was never intended to equip citizens with the skills that would help them become fit for labour and appropriate as citizens. It instead made them become better at becoming subservient to white dominance. The problem with the TRC is that it addresses reconciliation and the emphasis of reconciling means that people have to forgive and actually become submissive to something disagreeable (Horsthemke, 2005, pp. 171). Solutions that redress the education system of South Africa have to be made in consideration to equity instead of forgiveness, equality instead of submission to disagreeability and quality instead of the acceptance of a previous education system. Fair education should not cause one race of people to become subservient to another.
This is the principle that governs the informative efforts to make all individuals become social, political and economically mobile people. Equality is integral in the address of access or the provision of opportunities to all the people of a nation. Inequality has contributed to the existing illiteracy levels evident with most black South African adults and this illiteracy further extends to basic computer skills. To ensure that equality is observed in our country’s education system, a process known as “standardization” has to be considered and utilized. “Standardized systems show fewer local disparities in terms of content and quality of education…” (Pfeffer, 2012, pp. 13). This process can be used to make the content of learning in South Africa become less Westernized. It can also ensure that the quality of teaching in public schools is monitored as well as adjusted to an optimum level, as done in private schools. Privatization may also be considered in addressing equality since private schools aim at increasing enrolment.
Private school management bodies also exert efforts of inclusion and provide support for learners who might be less exposed to minimal chances in the public schools (Pfeffer, 2012, pp. 13). Although certain debates exist concerning privatizing schools to address equality, there has to be a noble relation that is institutionalized between educational equality and privatization.
Sustainability has to do with providing for the current people’s needs without decreasing chances for those of the future generation, from also acquiring the means to provide for their own needs. This principle of education is one that exists in progression and is not an objective. Although sustainability is not an objective, it is important to know that the progression of sustainability occurs due to the aim of achieving certain objectives such as the reduction of poverty, the improvement of psychological fitness as well as safeguarding healthy living environments. One of the approaches for educational sustainability is granting the opportunity for lifelong learning for all. Although this approach is written about in many academic sources, it would be necessary for the minds of most South Africans to be made aware of the fact that they have the right to learn and become equipped with skills irrespective of background. Another way of ensuring educational sustainability is by developing tuition courses that are focused on sponsoring young people with socially fitting psychological development, awareness and efficacy in the enhancement of skills. While this principle may be perceived as one which is community-orientated, it is also a principle that can be a process for “enabling communities to develop strategies for a sustainable future in partnership with local government” (The Australian Research Institute in Education for Sustainability, 2009, pp. 6).
The evidence of responsibility in education is prominent when teachers, learners, parents and those in educational governance take charge of being accountable for their own actions. For some reason, responsibility seems to be taught but since the people involved in the educational system do not always behave or act responsibly, we can trace this failure back to the words “…training in physics or phonetics does not, of itself, produce political-pundits” (Peters, 2015, pp. 24). This statement by Peters means that when individuals are taught certain subject content, it is not possible for them to automatically become political experts or individuals whose reasoning suits democratic responsibility. Most academics in the field of education have restated in different ways that schools have to equip learners with skills that will make them democrats but such a result is rare in our country. Learners in our country are taught to pass their examinations and there is less or even no focus on their lives as prospective citizens.
Educators and lecturers of science subjects are the ones that can help facilitate and reinforce responsibility because they “profess to know science and the art of communication” (Frazer & Kornhauser, 1986, p. 6). From this idea, I can confidently state that the teaching of mathematical theorems and science laws can be a good start for assisting learners and students in South Africa. For example, Newtons’s third law “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction” can be debated about in a physics class. One group of learners can be for the law and others can try speaking against it. This can be done through a project that a teacher may create for the learners as an assessment task. The ability to assume flaws, any undeveloped information, the raising of questions and the composition of a presentation by the group that will be against the law would be cognitively developmental for learners.
For the group that is for the law, the gathering of evidence, the provision of examples, the support of the law by other scholastic theories other than Newton’s, as well as the compilation of a report in support of the law would also develop the academic psychology of learners. Different laws and theorems can be used and learners may change sides of debate discussions so that they can develop diversely. As far as responsibility is concerned, communication is the medium through which responsibility is advocated for especially in education. The development of proper argumentative and reasoning skills will definitely help learners become politically fit members of the public. This will also ensure responsibility even for teachers since teaching and learning are achieved through communication.
Although the above mentioned principles are theoretical, they require absolute practicality in their consideration to address the injustices of post-apartheid education in South Africa. The involvement of all individuals who are part of the educational system and the clear exposition of those unfair factors that prevent effective learning is vital. All positive efforts should be for attaining the better and most necessary education standard for South African public schools.
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