The Age of Anger and the Educational Divide

The angst generated by Brexit and the Trump election is still generating much comment with all sorts of views being expressed.

Pankaj Mishra, writing in the Guardian in an article titled “Welcome to the age of anger” asserts that emotions of fear, anxiety and humiliation played a significant part in both Brexit and the election of Donald Trump and asserts further that a rigid contemporary belief that what counts is only what can be counted and what cannot be counted – subjective emotions – therefore do not (count). He points out that these emotions are also what drove Germany into the second world war and are driving anti-western sentiments in China, Russia and India.

He quotes Robert Musil speaking of the critics of Enlightenment rationalism, who observed that the problem was not that we “have too much intellect and too little soul” but that we have “too little intellect in matters of the soul”. This is a statement that resonates with me.

He further observes that seeking the “rational actor” we fail to see the individual as a “deeply unstable entity” particularly prone to ressentiment, a French word describing an emotion “caused by an intense mix of envy, humiliation and powerlessness” and resulting in a sentiment that can be expressed thus, “that it is not enough to succeed. Others must fail”. (Gore Vidal). So ressentiment “is poisoning civil society and undermining political liberty everywhere” which is further exacerbated by the inability of our “grotesquely unequal societies” to satisfy expectations of the equality of social conditions and individual empowerment presented as ideals of modern democracy.

Pankaj Mishra observes that “Never have so many free individuals felt so helpless – so desperate to take back control from anyone they can blame”. He concludes that we need a “radically enlarged understanding of what it means for human beings to pursue the contradictory ideals of freedom, equality and prosperity”.

Mishra says a lot more and is worth a read here.

In a related article, “How the education gap is tearing politics apart” David Runciman, also in the Guardian, observes that the chasm in education between the poorly educated and the well educated elite is ever growing and “has become a fundamental divide in democracy” and “how people vote is being increasingly shaped by how long they spent at school” and to a significant extent, this is what helped shape the Brexit results. Runciman succinctly states the fears that “democracy will mean rule by the poor, who will use their power to steal from the rich” and “rule by the ignorant, who will use their power to do the dumbest things” and that “both these worries go back as far as Plato” (428/427 bce – 348/347 bce) and recur “at times of political crises”.

Walter Lippmann, an American propagandist of the first world war, wrote of democracy that it was impossible to believe “that the knowledge needed for the management of human affairs comes up spontaneously from the human heart”. Evidence and reasoned argument mean little to the average voter, he argued, and that only specialist experts could rescue politicians from the dubious instincts of the people and direct them to what evidence required.

Runciman argues that to think that 2016 was a return to a democratic norm would be a big mistake. Runciman instead suggests that the educated tend to flock together and share common values and vote one way, and that the uneducated would do much the same but vote another way. Greater freedom tends to produce more social stratification rather than social diversity and this tends to support political choices of both groups, the educated and the less educated, with the divide highlighting alternative values ‘often characterised as opposition between libertarians and authoritarians” and this “represents a gulf in mutual understanding”.

Neither Runciman nor Mishra offer solutions, just analysis. That is more than enough. The solutions must come from those who heed their analysis.

How is this significant for the Direct Democracy Forum (DDF)?

First, the DDF senate proposal permits participation of ordinary citizens in the day to day political process. But the DDF’s Senate is not a legislative body. It is an approval element of a legislative body. So, the Senate cannot approve a law where the poor raid the rich unless the experts (the legislators) actually pass such a bill and send it to the senate for approval. Nor can a DDF Senate legislate something abysmally stupid unless the same legislators pass such a bill and send it to the Senate for approval. One would hope that the DDF Senate, even if presented with such a bill, will have the good sense to reject the bill, because it would have first to debate the pros and cons of such a bill and those presenting those pros and cons would also be part of the ‘learned elite’, who we believe will no doubt seek to alert the Senate members of the pitfalls surrounding such a bill.

Thus meaningful participation in the legislative process would be accessible to anyone who volunteers and is selected to sit. For details of the process and of the proposed Senate, see here. It will be obvious that the senate would have the power to quash any legislation or regulation that it feels was elitist or otherwise undesirable, no questions asked, and would need to be convinced of the desirability of any bill or regulation passed by the legislators or regulators but, importantly, would itself be unable to initiate legislation.

This should address in part, the sense of helplessness felt by so many referred to by Mishra and to enable human beings to pursue the contradictory ideals of freedom, equality and prosperity in a structured, peaceful and democratic manner.

Then there is the sense that society is being divided between the well educated and the not so well educated. The only way to address that is to ensure that all have the opportunity to be adequately educated, according to whatever their intellectual capacity is.

Here the DDF are proposing a number of interlocking policies which will support an education system, paid for from funds made available through a Basic Income Grant and available nationally to all South African citizens. Thus, government would no longer be the primary employer of education resources. Instead the students and the parents would be the employers and educators would, amongst other features, suddenly have their ability to blackmail all of society with threats of nationwide strikes, curtailed, because there would no longer be one service provider but thousands of service providers, all of whom would need to be negotiated with separately. In short, the DDF are proposing a free market solution where freedom of choice is paramount. If you don’t like the choices offered your child at school A, remove the child and the fees he is paying from school A to school B or C, whichever school works best for you.

OK, the solution is not a quick fix. There are no quick fixes in a process with a twenty five year cycle from entry into pre-school to exit from post-graduate school, but improvements to the entire system would be immediately available to scholars and students in the system, from pre-school to post-graduate school, from day one.

Of course, one cannot have education without qualified, competent and enthusiastic educators. So educators would be well paid and education would be a prestige occupation reserved for the competent.

The DDF do not claim that this would remove the education chasm that is growing year by year, but it first would slow the growth and later on, with more and more scholars having access to quality education through the whole process, there would be less of a divide between the highly educated and the not so well educated, and an education would be respected by all of South Africa and would be delivered as a right, not as a privilege.

As to fees must fall, there is no such thing as a free lunch so those receiving the benefit of a tertiary education will have to pay for it, before, during or after receiving their degrees.

All of this is not a perfect solution but is much better than what we currently have in South Africa.

Join with us.

See how you can benefit from DDF policies.
View videos on the main DDF policies
Support the DDF

WEF: SA’s Education Saga Continues, unabated.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Information Technology Report 2014 slated South Africa on a number of issues which were mostly ICT (information and communication technologies) related.

Some key issues were the ranking of South Africa on
                                                                                        RANK:
The quality of SA’s education system                            146 0f 148
The quality of SA’s Maths and science education         148 of 148
Internet access in schools (3.1 of a possible 7)            116 of 148

The importance of ICT to government                           116 of 148

Admittedly these rankings are not the result of scientific or academic testing (such as from standardised tests) but are from surveys reported in the WEF’s Executive Opinion Survey. So these are opinions and not facts. But they are pretty damning opinions since they come from the market place that the education system is supposed to serve and worse still are born out by various other surveys and rankings of performance of SA school children in academic test situations such as discussed here at education again in the spotlight and here at maths in crises again and here at why low education standards, indicating that these opinions seem to be born out in more objective measurements going back some years and are even acknowledged by a ministerial task team (see here) – yet government glibly deny the nature and the extent of the problem, as reported here. Yet again, the ANC government is in denial

This report puts SA’s Maths and Science reports pretty much into perspective and coincidentally also more than less supports the WEF survey results.

There is nothing like a bit of first-hand experience to illustrate the effect of our weak maths education system, so here is a gem. Customer to till supervisor when claiming 5% discount on R200 purchased at a major retail grocery chain store – “I have R100 cash and a card. Can I purchase R100 for cash and take my 5% discount on that and purchase the other R100 on my card and take 5% discount on that?”. (Note: 5% discount is a standard arrangement for the store). Supervisor to customer “No. You can’t do that because then you would be getting 10% and we only give 5%”. True story.

One needed to remember that the quality of the supervisor’s maths education was not the supervisor’s fault but was the fault of the ANC government’s education system, which had left her badly misinformed.

The point is that for all government’s rationalisation, our maths and science and indeed many of our humanities education systems are inadequate for the task set them, that is, to educate. Things are not getting better as government asserts, but are sliding. Improved results are not a function of improved performance but of sliding standards and the till supervisor who thinks that 5% of R100 + 5% of another R100 is equal to 10% of R200, will become the norm. Not their fault. It’s the system’s fault and ultimately government’s fault, because the ANC  government have hijacked the education system for the sake of political expediency.

A Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) administration will have to undo perhaps as much as a quarter century of educational political expediency. The DDF have a structured policy to address the education crises at all levels from pre-school to post-graduate. Having said that, that education cycle is at least a twenty five year cycle and only those entering the education cycle in year one of a DDF administration will feel the full benefits of being properly educated throughout their academic career.  Those already in the cycle at that time will have to play catch-up for the remainder of their academic careers. That is not ideal but at least is better than not playing catch-up, and at least a DDF administration will be supporting them in the process. See DDF eduction policies.

There will be an enormous cost attached to this enormous effort but fortunately a DDF administration, through the application of TEAL, will have the means of paying for it without further destituting the nation. See DDF Tax policies

See how you can benefit from DDF policies.     View videos on the main DDF policies

Support the DDF                                                                   Follow the DDF on Twitter

.

Plea from the coal-face of education

This considered and impassioned appeal for sanity in the education system comes from a senior school history teacher whose experiences in the classroom do not equate to the results of her pupils in the 2013 Matric examinations and echo the opinions of Professor Jonathan Jansen University of Free State vice chancellor.

The bottom line is what the Direct Democracy Forum have been asserting constantly, that successive ANC governments and in particular their education departments have been perpetuating massive educational fraud upon the hapless and near helpless parents and students trapped in our public education system.  Not only is the message misleading to these unfortunates but also attempts to mislead society as a whole.  These attempts fail because society has its own standards.  They are simple standards.  Are high school graduates sufficiently literate and numerate to make it in the work place or in institutions of higher learning?  The general consensus is that no, the average high school graduate is not sufficiently literate or numerate for those tasks.

Why is this fraud?  Well, if you enter into a contract with a supplier to supply you with a given product of a given quality and function and the supplier supplies you with a dysfunctional product of an inferior quality dressed up as a product of the contract, then the supplier is committing a commercial crime.  He is committing fraud.  The fact that the supplier is government supplying to a captive market who cannot effectively counter government’s claims of functionality and appropriateness of product merely exacerbates and heightens the degree of fraud.

It is the DDF‘s intention that a DDF administration will hold those responsible for this fraud accountable and bring them to account.  And it is a massive fraud, perpetuated on nearly 500 000 scholars per year over a period of nearly twenty years, and nearly that number again of those students who dropped out of the system, and nearly twice that number of parents over the same period of years.  This is clearly an opportunity of a class action of enormous proportions maybe effecting some 40 to 60 million persons over 20 years.  

But it is worse even than that, because the effect of that fraud is felt over the rest of those persons’ lives and by society as a whole who have to accommodate those poor unfortunates.  The lucky ones are those who actually make it to university and are re-educated and then subjected to the rigors of a tertiary education. The unlucky one’s are those who didn’t make it and who will never make it.  The scope and effect of the deceit is mind boggling and inexcusable and the fact that is was perpetuated in the name of political expediency just makes it even more inexcusable.

But this blog is not about retribution.  It may be about restitution but even that is unimportant when compared to the primary purpose, which is to illustrate to South African’s that the DDF is aware of the nature and extent of this deceit and that a DDF administration will stop it in its tracks and heed the pleas of  high school teacher Maryke Bailey and University Rector Professor Jonathan Jansen and so many other largely voiceless and helpless victims.

See DDF education policies.  See how DDF policies can help you?

Support the DDF                                                                           Follow the DDF on Twitter

The buck stops at the ballot box

Why low education standards?

It is funny the way pieces of a jigsaw miraculously snap together and the picture you see is not what you expected to see.  That the truth is not what it seemed to be from viewing the pieces separately.

I’m really discussing the death of Nelson Mandela and the empowering effect of that event, taken up by commentators who suddenly seem empowered to look at SA’s and Mandela’s history, with greater clarity, to connect what is happening today with what happened under a cloak of secrecy yesterday.

Let me be explicit:  The struggle was not so much about liberating the suppressed of South Africa as it was about affording the communist empires access to the entire Southern African sub-continent.  This is what gave the West political justification to tolerate successive Nationalist governments and the freedom to remove that implicit support at the end of the ‘Cold War’.  This is what Mandela was really about and if the liberation myth had an ounce of truth to it, we would have had ethical governments over the past 20 years, our public schools system would work, our public health systems would work, our public transport system would work, we would have a thriving industrial and manufacturing sector working for the people of South Africa, we would not have close to 50% of our work-aged population unemployed, we would not import most of what we consume, run current account and balance of payment deficits and massive government debts that our children and their children after them will be paying off decades into the future, unless we do something about it today, and we would have reserved South Africa, if not exclusively for South Africans, at least mainly for South Africans and South Africa would still be the power house of Africa and the gateway to Africa.  But that is not what has happened over the past 20 years.

Why am I expressing this now?  First, the Myth of Improved Matriculation Results debunked as discussed here by Professor Jonathan Jansen, which is testimony to the fact that despite the stats, our standards of education are not improving from a level that is repeatedly judged to be close to the lowest in the world, second, the observation by a caller on a Radio 702 chat show that the only way autocratic government succeeds is by keeping its citizens ignorant (he was also discussing the 2013 Matriculation results) and third, the myth of ANC role in the struggles as discussed in this M&G on-line report, and elsewhere, and what it was really about.  

Change must happen, at the next elections.  Let’s empower a government of the people, for the people, by the people.   A Direct Democracy Forum administration will deliver government of the people , for the people, by the people.

See how DDF policies will help you

Support the DDF                                                                            Follow the DDF on Twitter

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Professor Jonathan Jansen speaks. Hear, hear.

Professor Jonathan Jansen speaks. Hear, hear.

But who is listening?

The short answer is the Direct Democracy Forum are listening.  We’ve been listening to Professor Jansen since before our formation.  Our very existence is steeped in Professor Jansen’s messages.

A DDF administration will carefully note every word written and spoken by Professor Jansen on the topic of education in South Africa.  Someone needs to hear Professor Jansen.  We do!

See DDF Education Policies.   See how DDF policies can help you.

Support the DDF                                                                            Follow the DDF on Twitter

The buck stops at the ballot box

Prison Numbers tell all

This M & G on-line report lists numbers in South Africa that are telling.

  • Cost per prisoner per month                                  R9 876.35
  • Cost per prisoner per year                                  R118 516.20
  • prison population (includes remands)                   156 370
  • cost per month                                          R1,544,364,849.50 
  • cost per year                                           R18,532,378,194.00
  • prisons                                                                          243 
  • average cost per prison per year                   R76,264,930.84

These are costs to South Africa’s taxpayers.

Compare this to the cost of a tertiary education in a state sponsored university.

  • Student cost of 1 year’s fees at university range from 30K to 50K (say 40K average)
    depending on the courses.
  • So a three year degree will cost a student about R120 k.
  • The state will contribute about 30% and private sponsorship the balance.
  • Assuming private sponsorship of zero, the R120k = about 70%, so
  • the state will contribute about R51 000 for a three year course.

So, the cost to the state of 1 year’s imprisonment for 1 prisoner will be about R118,5k or equal to state sponsorship for 2.3 three-year degree courses.

 Put another way, three years’ imprisonment for 1 prisoner (R355k) = state sponsorship for 7 three year degree courses (R350k).

Setting aside the fact that 30% or 1/3rd state sponsorship is simply not enough, the fact that you can equate 3 years of imprisonment to 7 three year degree courses speaks volumes of where the state’s funding priorities lie.

Let us say that the state sponsored education 100%, so a three year degree course might cost the state R171k compared to a three year imprisonment cost of R355.5k, even then three years’ imprisonment would equate to two three-year degree courses. Makes you think.

  • By comparison, the R2 Billion spent on President Zuma’s  Nkandla compound and the infrastructure in the surrounds (see here) would have funded
    • 100% of 11, 691 three year degrees or about
    • 40 000 three year degrees at the present level of sponsorship.  
  • Makes you think some more.

It makes Direct Democracy Forum’s education and training policies supported by a TEAL backed fiscus even more relevant, when you consider the impact it would have on the prison population. While not claiming that only the uneducated are criminals (they certainly are not), the DDF are pretty certain that the better educated a person is and the more employable he or she is (the two generally correlate), the less likely he or she will be to resort to crime to survive.

This will result in

  • less crime,
  • fewer prisoners,
  • less pressure on the criminal justice system as a whole (we haven’t even considered those costs in our calculations)
  • less distressed families and individuals,
  • less pressure on the social services funded by the state and civil society

this is just a win-win situation whichever way you look at it.

These are all DDF policy basics. See how the DDF can help you.

Support the DDF                                                                           Follow the DDF on Twitter

The buck stops at the ballot box

SA Education Authorities wear Blinkers

The habit of the ANC government to see only what they wish to see and hear only what they wish to hear is shooting South African children in the foot by denying them a proper education and then expecting them to perform in a competitive manner in a competitive world.  This is just another example of the ANC’s Messiah complex in action.  The Direct Democracy Forum have expressed this sentiment before but will do so again.  This is tantamount to criminal fraud perpetrated on the school children of South Africa and one day those responsible will be held to account, but by then the damage done to millions of South Africans who have passed through the South African education system these past 20 years, will be very difficult to undo.

Two reports on the Annual National Assessment results, ANA results are not comparable and Critics slap down Motshekga’s confidence over ANAs absolutely slate the manner in which the tests were conducted and the Minister’s interpretation of the results.  Either the Minister believes her own propaganda or the Minister is fully aware of the implications of the results and is simply lying to the people.  Both alternatives are totally unacceptable.

DDF education policies, backed by DDF TEAL policies  are the only chance on the current political horizon for South Africa’s crippled education system, and then it will be a long haul over decades to set the matter to rights.

Support the DDF                                                                           Follow the DDF on Twitter 

 The buck stops at the ballot box 

Unions, Teaching and Marking

This M & G report highlights one of the biggest problems underpinning education in South Africa.  As can be seen, one survey indicates that as many as 68% of grade 6 maths teachers are inadequately informed on the subject to teach in it at that level.  The Direct Democracy Forum don’t have statistics available for all subjects at all levels but anecdotal evidence suggests that that sort of incompetency may exists across most subjects at most levels.   It follows that if the teachers are unable to teach at any given level they are incompetent to judge the competency of others at that level viz. they are equally incompetent to mark at that level.

Should unions be concerned and what should their position be?

The DDF believe that unions should be concerned, not with the fact that many of their members may not be allowed to mark but rather with the fact that many of these members may be required to perform duties they are incompetent to perform.  We believe that the union position should be that those who are incompetent at any given knowledge level should be encouraged to acquire the required level of knowledge or to teach and mark at a level for which they are fit to do so.  This should involve ongoing competency examinations and testing.

This is not intended to denigrate the dignity of our teachers but rather to equip them professionally for their duties in the classroom and marking rooms so that they can competently deliver a sound education to their pupils.  Far from denigrating the dignity of teachers such a process will empower them and reinforce their dignity.  At the same time it will also deliver to South Africa’s pupils what they have a constitutional and moral right to expect, a competent and meaningful education, which will suitably prepare them for their lives as responsible and contributing members of society.  They too need to be empowered, they too have a dignity which needs to be considered.

The DDF are firmly in favour of the application of merit at all levels and across all activities in society.  This includes the education process.  In fact, the assessment of merit in  academics and teaching skills are fundamental to a functioning education system and a DDF administration will deliver just such levels of merit assessment as are needed in the classrooms of South Africa, and believe they will do so with the support of the unions, who also need to be empowered to perform their duties to their members and to society in a dignified and ethical manner.

DDF education policies are intended to lift all out of the poverty of ignorance and incompetence so that everyone in South Africa can find a fruitful place for themselves in society.

Support the DDF                                                                        Follow the DDF on twitter

The buck stops at the ballot box.

SA 17th most gender-equal country.

This BBC report indicates that according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), South Africa is the 17th most gender equal country in the world. I guess South Africa should be proud of that, that is, until you look at the details.

On a range of 1 (most equal) to 4 (least equal), South Africa scores a 1 overall; a 4 (least equal) for health and survival, a 2 (mostly equal) for education, a 3 (mostly unequal) for economic participation and a 1 (equal) for political empowerment. So let’s not get too proud, we have a long way to go for all categories but for political empowerment, and political empowerment is just not that important if you are going to die young, probably from a combination of poverty and ignorance.

Direct Democracy Forum policies clearly indicate their commitment to gender equality, the best possible education, health care and economic opportunities for all. The DDF are committed to at least a score of 1 on each of those categories.

The buck stops at the ballot box

Youth Development_bg

Background:

South African youth have particularly difficult lives.  There are too many unemployed youth and too few jobs.  To many are under-educated and under-skilled.  Even those who are well educated are not guaranteed work, not in the skills areas for which they are educated and trained nor even for other areas.  Generally government acknowledges an unemployment rate of about 25.2% in the first quarter of 2013, this according to Stats SA.  Also acknowledged is that unemployment of the youth is in the region of 50% (double the national average).  While this sort of relationship is not unique to South Africa, the overall high rates probably are.  

Not acknowledged are the many unemployed who have simply given up looking for employment and thus are under the radar and are not counted.  The Direct Democracy Forum (the DDF) take the pessimistic view that unemployment nation-wide is closer to double those figures and that level is the real target for employment initiatives, that we need to find gainful employment for up to 50% of our population between 15 and 65 years old and about 75% of the population between 15 and 25 years old.  The high levels of unemployment amongst the youth have significant impact on crime levels, disintegration of societal and family mores and values and this has a cascading effect on the youth of tomorrow, with the disadvantaged leading the ever more disadvantaged into dysfunction, where, often, the only support system available comes from those who are already dysfunctional and whose only ‘family’ are gangs who are involved in anti-social and illegal activities. These are not good role models for the future. 

Whether you take a optimistic or pessimistic view of unemployment, it is clear that SA has a massive unemployment problem that cannot simply be addressed by social welfare grants such as but not limited to the proposed youth wage subsidy. In any event the proposed wage subsidy is not universally welcome in South Africa, see Wage Subsidy Critique and there is a large body of debate which argues that the costs of wage subsidies are often wasted as they are often spent on jobs which would exist even without a subsidy and their effect on the labour market is to distort rather than improve employment patterns.

Strategies:

 

Just when you thought it couldn’t be worse

Just when you thought it couldn’t possibly be worse you discover that indeed it could be and is worse for some.  This is a sad tale of a sad school that can only have been unforgivably ignored.  Try visuallising that for your child!

It is easy to utter platitudes about the failure of South Africa’s public school system (said to be almost the worst system in the world) and easy for the ANC to complain about underinvestment in black education under apartheid, but come on, zero percent pass rates when we are formally 2 decades out of apartheid and segregation, and formal discrimination in education is some 3 decades past.  The Direct Democracy Forum are convinced that these failures are symptoms of present failures to deliver to our beleaguered youth and bad policy decisions right from the start of the post-apartheid era and are not symptoms of apartheid neglect.  The neglect is in not identifying every at-risk school in the land (what would that be, most schools?) and deal with them on a worst-case-first rotation.

It requires some out-of-the-box thinking and the political and fiscal will to turn these disasters around and the DDF are not being glib and populist and mouthing off in the expectation that they will never be required to put their money where the mouths are.  A DDF administration will exercise the necessary political will and allocate the necessary funds to end these tales of despair.  What else could we do?  Let this state continue?  Not a chance.  A DDF administration would be too ashamed to allow that to happen, as should any administration.  DDF education policies reflect DDF determination to put an end to this sorry misery.    

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Health Care – Getting it Wrong

Here is a sorry tale about Eastern Cape’ medicine non-delivery system.

What is it about South Africa and the the Eastern Cape in particular, that we can’t get our act together?  We previously posted on the poor delivery of education in the EC , Teachers Without Jobs, Children Without Teachers, to mention just a few topics, and now, since May 2013, medicine delivery is also failing in the Eastern Cape.

It does not seem to matter enough that children are not being educated and the sick are not being medicated that they tolerate delivery systems that don’t work.  It is all a sad and shocking state of affairs that suggest the country is falling apart at the seams while the vultures circle and pick up choice profits that are going for doing business with government and not being held accountable.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration would not tolerate any of this, not for one moment.  We could not in all consciousness tolerate such poor delivery results and such sad consequences.  The DDF can only point to DDF policies and stress that when we say we will deliver, we mean exactly that.

The buck stops at the ballot box. 

If Only

In our previous post we bemoaned the lack of adequate funding for our educators and the education system.  The topic is a huge one which begins with the appropriate application of existing funding and proceeds to appropriate funding for all academia.  We mention this because South Africa actually spends a high proportion of its GDP (about 18%) on education.  But we simply are not getting the results. 

  • Step one is to apply the funds that are needed where and when they are needed (books on time, teachers where there are pupils) and so on.
  •  Step two is to identify areas of need that are not adequately funded and see that these areas are properly funded, without stealing from existing recipients.
  • Application of TEAL by the Direct Democracy Forum will ensure such theft is not needed

Two critical areas of need are adequate funding for tertiary education and for research and development.  Imagine, only 1.5% of our working population are employed in Research and Development.  A gifted person obtains an advanced degree in research and development and can’t find employment.  That should not be.

Yet South Africans are a resolute people.  In spite of the sad state of support for R & D and for Tertiary Education, our youngsters still acquit themselves on international platforms, as good as any and better than most, and in this particular case, as the best in the world.

If only we supported all our achievers in all areas of endeavour with the same resolve as we support our sportsmen and sportswomen.  Imagine then what we would accomplish.

Well, dreams precede accomplishments and a DDF dream is that South Africans are counted as amongst the best in the world wherever they compete.  A DDF administration will empower and enable everyone to be their best at whatever they doDDF policies will turn that “if only” wish into reality.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Textbooks should be a given

It is simply astounding that official policy is not that every child has the necessary textbooks needed for their education, today and every day of their school career, but is something else, as revealed here by the Mail & Guardian – viz. that the department of Basic Education only planned to provide every child with a textbook by 2014.

The Direct Democracy Forum believe this is simply untenable, particularly as a promise in this country is just a promise and delivery often falls short.  It is all too easy to promise for the future in order to appease for today.  You are never accountable today for promises for tomorrow.

A DDF administration will never substitute unaccountable promises for the future for accountable acts of the day and are prepared to be held accountable for that committal, particularly when it comes down to children’s education and the resourcing that needs, which is possibly the single most important need for the country’s future. See DDF eduction policies.

The buck stops at the ballot box

 

Teachers Without Jobs, Children Without Teachers

What are we worried about?  This should be as simple as matching puzzle blocks for children.  But we forget, we are in South Africa and we are talking about education in the Eastern Cape, yet again.

This is a tale of despair that has been simmering for almost a decade.  Contrast that story to this story about BRAC, one of the largest NGOs in the world, with over 100 000 employees, which includes in its endeavours, a pre-primary and primary school system  that educates 1.25 million children, mostly the poorest of the poor.   If an NGO in Bangladesh can do it, why can’t a National and Provincial Government department in South Africa do it?  Clearly we are getting something wrong in South Africa.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration would empower every willing educator and student in the country and such tales of despair would become a thing of the past.  See DDF Education Policies.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Children’s rights and education

Dependent children have no rights.  Is this the reason for this, the forgotten schools of the Eastern Cape????  After all, the common denominator between the opinion and the state of Eastern Cape Schools seems to be one person, The Eastern Cape’s minister of education Mandla Makupula.  Admittedly he has only been the MEC for education since November 2010 but surely he would have had the opportunity in the two years or so to focus on those poor forgotten schools.  It’s difficult not to connect the dots.

The EC Department of Education have defended the minister, saying the remarks were taken out of context, but even a liberal reading of this explanation isn’t enough to vindicate the remarks.  Children have rights, in the home in the school and in society at large.  They also have duties, such as to learn to be responsible citizens, responsible pupils and responsible family members, responsible friends and  community members, but to say they have no rights, in any context at all, is unforgivable, and indicates a particular mindset that some adults have, a mindset that is unacceptable  and worrying in a minister of government who is as influential and responsible for the rights of children as is the E.C.  minister of education.

In many countries, a remark like that would have signaled the end of a political career.  But in South Africa, government and party members rush to his defense.

More and more Direct Democracy Forum strategists see the need for a bottom up approach.  As a priority but not to the exclusion of all else, fix the worst schools, the worst clinics, the worst hospitals in the land and when they are working as they should, then give some attention to improving the lot of better run institutions.  But the picture painted by the forgotten schools report clearly cannot continue.  See DDF education policies.

Education and Training

Background:       Education Resources:        PDF: Policy Statement Education & Training

Strategies: 

  • As a general education policy, the Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) will be looking both nationally and internationally  at systems and processes that work best, and will adopt those strategies it believes will work best for SA’s beleaguered education system, and, importantly, for its students.
  • The DDF will put well qualified educators in every classroom in the country, from pre-school to secondary school, and instill in each and every teacher a teaching ethic that exceeds mere classroom attendance and drawing a salary at the end of each month.    
  • We want teachers to become cherished members of the societies they serve, who are well educated, good educators, highly motivated and well rewarded. The implementation of TEAL as a tax strategy and Basic Income Grants and a voucher system  will provide the necessary funds and tools for achieving that ambition.
  • The DDF will develop a learning ethic amongst students.  We will resource all classrooms adequately, tolerate no violence or misbehaviour in the classrooms and school yards, and insist on absolute security and respect for teachers and fellow students.  
  • Students who are unwilling to learn and are unable to pass annual promotion examinations will be held back to repeat the year they failed in.  They will be held  accountable for their performance.  
  • Students who prove they cannot be accommodated in the general student population will, after appropriate psychological assessment, be accommodated in special needs or remedial units either in their own school or in a school within their community.
    •  The emphasis will be to address the needs of these students and give them the special care required for them to complete their education and be reintegrated into the general education population as best as possible and as soon as is possible.
  • For tertiary education the DDF will:
    • Un-bundle the bundling of technicons with universities.
    • Un-bundle some of the university mergers (basically reinstate the pre bundling university profiles) and give universities much greater freedom in defining their academic, social and cultural profiles.
    • Engage the educators of the land in designing as an adjunct to existing systems of university entry, a more graduated advancement from high schools to technical colleges through to university entry, for students who qualify at each level, so as to provide an alternate and much more integrated process of advancement through the system than the system currently provides.  This will not supersede nor replace the present system. Merely add to it.
    • Funding:
      • The DDF will ensure that every student who wishes to and qualifies to attend university or technicons will be financially enabled to do so.  This will require paying back the funds advanced from increased income gained from graduation, and can involve post-graduate service contracts, where appropriate, by way of pay-backs for financial support of graduate and post graduate studies.  
      • The DDF will largely cease direct funding of educational facilities and in place thereof will institute a system of vouchers, held by students and or their parents/guardians and exchanged for services rendered by educational facilities, which in turn will be treated by education facilities as legal tender to be deposited in institutions’ bank accounts.  This will enable students/parents to go to the institutions of their choice and importantly enable greater mobility of students between competing schools/institutions.
      • The voucher system will apply at all South African pre, primary and secondary school scholars and for South African tertiary students wishing to enter the funding program.  The payback requirement will only apply to tertiary education students.   
      • In time the voucher system will be paid for from the Basic Income Grant by deduction of all or some of the voucher values from the BIG. 

Pre-Primary Schooling:

The DDF believe that quality education begins in Early Education.  To this end DDF will;

  • introduce universal and compulsory access to early education
  • Ensure that care providers in early education centres are qualified professionals
  • Fund the training of pre-school teachers through the application of TEAL and the voucher/ advance system for higher education repayable from the ‘profits’ generated by graduates from their increased earnings capabilities arising from their advanced education and training and or from post graduate service contracts.

Primary and Secondary Education:

Primary and Secondary education will also be largely funded through vouchers placed in the hands of parents/guardians exchangeable for services rendered by primary and secondary education facilities.  The value of the vouchers will be pitched to include the essentials of basic education.  Non essential elements of education will need to be self funded.  So Karate and Ballet classes, unless part of a matriculation syllabus, will need to be funded by direct parental contributions (aka additional fees).  The voucher system will mostly replace direct funding of schools by the state.  In effect this means that the state will enable the parents to directly fund the schools of their choice.  The state, by stipulating the purposes for which the funds may be used, will ensure that certain basic educational needs are met by the schools.  

Further Education and Training:

As part of the DDF’s contention that every person in the country should have the right to be educated and trained to be fit for employment:

  • the DDF will embark on a major drive to train and educate every unemployed person in the country.  
  • The DDF are prepared to pledge the cost of training and the cost of living for every person engaged in the program, initially at the state’s cost, but collectable after graduation from the additional income derived by graduates from their advanced education.  
  • The DDF’s contention is that it is far better to pay for the cost of making our population skilled and employable than it is to pay for the cost of their welfare for the rest of their lives.  

Integrated Policies:

The DDF will also merge these new-found skills in the employment market to create much needed housing and infrastructure and communities within which South African citizens can work, live and play with dignity and pride. 

Education Support Services:

A DDF administration will ensure that adequate support services are provided for parents and schools, to ensure the effective management of schools.  In particular, every school will have a designated psychologist available to evaluate and support at-risk students.

Conclusion:

The DDF wish they could turn back the clock and undo all the damage that has been done to students and scholars under ANC administration but regrettably that is not possible.  Application of DDF education policy will come as a shock to many who have never been asked to do even the most simple things.  They will be asked to do things that are much more than simple in order to advance.  Hopefully they will understand why they are now expected to perform  To those who have already passed through the system, we can only do our best to make up for the shortfalls in their education through further education and training programs.   

The DDF want education to be the most sought after profession in the land and want a Matriculation Certificate that will be accepted without question for entry to tertiary education systems and entry to the work place.

This is the bare bones of DDF intentions which we will develop into strong policy, in cooperation with educators and educational institutes nation-wide.