Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sold out by the ANC

When, in its infinite wisdom, the African National Congress in 1997 inflicted on South Africa’s kids a Western fad known as Outcomes Based Education (OBE), your correspondent was a lonely voice in opposition predicting chaos in the schoolroom and disaster for the pupils, or “learners” in OBE-speak.

Then Education Minister Sibusiso Bengu, an eminently decent but sadly misguided politician, responding to my harsh criticism of OBE, essentially accused me of racism, disguising the insult in the weasel term, “elitist”.

This is what I wrote at that time: “Be warned (of) what will happen in South Africa if OBE is set loose on our kids.

They will not learn basic skills simply because they will not be taught them.

They will not learn that there are deadlines in life, that certain tasks have to be performed within a certain time frame.

That is taboo in OBE. Each child must progress at his or her own pace.
“Unit standards – instead of grades – will be granted no matter how many attempts are made by the student to earn them.

No one fails.

The student just goes on and on until he or she gets the ‘appropriate’ number of standard units, whatever they might be and no one seems able to define the term.
“In the end, say the OBEists, well-rounded citizens who believe in the group approach to all problems and who enjoy high ‘self-esteem’ will be produced.

Of course, they may be weak
in reading, writing and arithmetic. But what’s important is that they’ll think they’re terrific.”

Today we, our children and the nation, reap the whirlwind of ANC ignorance and arrogance. They listen to no one, take no advice; they are all-knowing and infallible.
But what have they done to the schoolchildren? Today, according to no less than one of the principal architects of OBE in South Africa, Graeme Bloch, OBE has resulted in this country being ranked near the bottom of the class in world education and among the worst in maths and literacy.

What a disgrace for a nation that has produced Nobel laureates, eminent jurists, world-renowned medical experts, famous authors and poets, international business leaders, military heroes in two world wars and statesmen of great distinction.

Bloch, who is the Development Bank of Southern Africa education specialist, has the good grace to admit that OBE created a shallow view of empowerment in which the student’s voice was substituted for the hard task of learning the basics. He points out that about 80% of SA schools are dysfunctional and the university admission rate is one of the lowest in the world – only 15% of those who pass matric further their education.

Thus the very foundations of our future are rotten.

Instead of hard-working, tax-paying citizens, we are producing an entire generation of illiterates who think they are entitled to the good life and will seize it, by crime and violence if necessary, regardless of their illiteracy. They are the victims, as are we all, of the ANC’s intransigence and arrogance.

Why didn’t the ANC build upon what was good in our society instead of tearing it apart? Similarly, those highly effective special police units dealing exclusively with sexual assaults and child abuse were disbanded, their expert and dedicated staffs scattered far and wide to dysfunctional police stations.

Gone was the collegial sharing of information and the professional care given to victims of these heinous crimes all of which assisted in both treating the abused and tracing the perpetrators. Will the ANC never learn?

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