Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Literacy, numeracy crisis in the Rainbow Nation

Numeracy and literacy skills among grade three school children are unacceptably low, Education Minister Naledi Pandor said on Tuesday.

"Although the average score in the 2007 survey was a little higher than the baseline 2001 result that was 30%, clearly the scores are still unacceptably low," she told the first ever foundation phase (grade R to grade three) conference in Mokopane, Limpopo.

According to the 2007 survey - which looked particularly at grade three children - the overall score obtained in literacy was 36%, with 35% for numeracy.

The survey was conducted among more than 54 000 grade three pupils from more than 2 400 primary schools.

Pandor said the achievement of pupils in numeracy and literacy varied in relation to the language of instruction, with English- and Afrikaans-speaking pupils faring better.

English- and Afrikaans-speaking children's numeracy scores were at 48% and 49% respectively
, while literacy scores were at 43% and 48%.

"African language mother-tongue speakers had lower average scores.

For example, for Siswati and Xitsonga learners, the average numeracy scores were 24% and 20% respectively.

The literacy score for both Siswati and Tshivenda speakers was 26%.

"Clearly, language issues impact on learner performance in literacy and numeracy," said Pandor. Eishhhh, is that a scientific fact?

Only about 10% of pupils surveyed performed well with a score of 70% or more.

"Low attainment levels in literacy and numeracy are unacceptable because they reduce chances of success in further education," she said.

Pandor said problems such as teacher numbers and the lack of resources should be addressed.

"They are the shaky ground upon which we build education for some of our learners, especially those in rural and poor areas.

This situation must change," she said.
The conference, which includes representatives of non-profit organisations, ends on Wednesday.

Mugabe’s dash to avert army coup

Robert Mugabe rushed back to Zimbabwe from a United Nations summit to avert a military coup, according to media reports.

Talk Radio 702 reported last night that Mugabe discovered the intentions of his security forces.

He immediately flew back after being warned that the generals, who have kept him in power for 28 years, were in the process of taking things into their own hands.

During the March elections, the generals and police heads vowed they would never accept executive Prime Minister designate Morgan Tsvangirai as the head of state.

Mugabe and MDC leader Tsvangirai are expected to meet soon to iron out some outstanding issues pertaining to the inclusive government.

“It can happen anytime. It could happen today or tomorrow. But it depends on the outstanding differences,” said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

Mugabe has said the new government would be announced by the end of the week. However, he stressed there would be no reversal of his nationalisation programme, and that land seized would never be returned to farmers who had fled to “Australia and South Africa”.

In the meantime, the MDC shot down Mugabe’s claim of the imminent finalisation of the inclusive government. “Mugabe obviously knows something that I do not.

We have a deadlock, and our positions are tangential,” said MDC secretary- general Tendai Biti.

He added: “As far as we know, there was no agreement on anything.” According to Biti, a constitutional amendment still had to be drafted to give legal effect to the power-sharing deal.

“Also, importantly, constitutional amendment number 19 still has to be drafted.

Without it there is no legal foundation of the government,” said Biti.

Election 2009: Make it count

Why vote?

I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to get active in politics to make a difference to the country.

I'm sure we know people that complain about the country yet are the same people that sit at home on election day too lazy or apathetic to vote.

I find that unconscionable
. The country needs every eligible voter to register and participate in the democratic process and I will continue repeating this message until it resonates and we see a good turnout on election day.

The 2009 election is probably THE most important election in the country's history.

The country and the ANC is in disarray and
we that support the smaller parties have an opportunity to step up and change the course of events. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to reduce the ANC's representation in parliament.

See below for information on how to register, where to register and how to vote.
I implore you to register and get your friends and family to do the same. If people do not have transport then arrange to drive them to the polling stations.

I am happy to answer any queries regarding
the registration and voting process, on here or anonymously. Also, if anyone has suggestions, please, share it with us.

This is it, this is the big one, this is where things change for the better - or not. It is up to you.

To underline my point about the ANC's problems, take a look at how easy it
would have been to keep the ANC's majority below 70% in 2004 (its best election result) had people just taken the trouble to vote on the day.

Back then, the turnout by ANC voters was poor because the voters had become disillusioned (and next year will be even worse) yet they still scored their best results because people who do not support the ANC think "what's the point?" and stay home.

An analysis of the 2004 national election results in South Africa offers an elucidating
prism through which to view the situation in South Africa today.

From one perspective, the result was a resounding triumph for president Thabo Mbeki but a closer examination offers a different perspective.

  • The ANC won nearly 70 percent of the votes cast, an improvement on its performance in the 1994 and 1999 national elections.

  • Against that, only 57 percent of the voting-age population turned out to vote, meaning that 43 percent either failed to register to vote or, if they did, were conspicuous by their absence at the polling booths.

  • Calculations by emeritus professors John Daniel and Roger Southall show that the ANC garnered a mere 40 percent of the total number of eligible voters. Put differently, of the roughly 27,5 million eligible voters, less than 16 million voted, which means 11,5 million did not.

    These figures point to declining participation in elections by eligible voters, which, in turn, points to disillusionment with the ANC as the ruling party.
  • Source

    ** 11,5 million did not vote? Are you among them? **

    Election 2009:
    • Website of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)
    • To check if you are registered on the voter's roll, click here or alternatively sms your identity number to 32810.
    • To contact the IEC, click here.
    • Details on why & how do I register, click here.
    • Call Toll-free number 0800 11 8000 to be given the exact voting station to which one can register.
    Forward this post to anyone you think needs to know about the election. Click on the envelope icon below.

    UPDATE: 1 October 2008
    Question: Somebody asked if we could vote overseas?
    Answer: No. The exact words they use, "You vote at the voting station serv
    ing the voting district where you are registered to vote." I know, it's a scam but what can we do? We need a change of government and that's why this election is important.

    The only exception is the following: In so far as overseas voting is concerned, section 33 of the Act provides for the two categories, viz. absence from the RSA on government service or membership of the household of a person being so absent. This covers embassy staff and their households.

    The second category, which has been included in terms of the Act, is made up of those voters who are temporarily absent from the RSA for purposes of a holiday, a business trip, attendance of a tertiary institution or an educational visit or participation in an international sports event.

    Persons in the second category must however inform the Commission within 15 days after the proclamation of the date of the election of their intended absence including their intention to vote as well as the place where they will cast their vote. Persons who wish to vote overseas must be registered in the voting district where they are ordinarily resident in South Africa, and present their green barded ID and their passport. In collaboration with the department of Foreign Affairs, work has already begun to give effect to this provision.

    Crucially, even though you may have voted in the last election, you MUST CHECK THAT YOU ARE REGISTERED OR RE-REGISTER (if you have moved) in the district where you currently reside. You may only vote in the place where you were last registered. Again, CHECK that you are registered.

    17 Oct 2008 - 'Darlings! You must register,' says Tannie Evita

    UPDATE 11/11/2008 - Sign this petition to demand the right to vote!

    UPDATE 12/11/2008
    - 21,6m South Africans now registered to vote

    Slaughter of the innocent

    A mother was knifed 113 times and her three children – one of whom was disabled – were butchered in a Queenstown killing so brutal it has attracted the attention of the United Nations.

    Since the victims were Somali immigrants, the UN is investigating whether the bloody slaughter was xenophobic. WTF?

    Sahra Omar Farah, 46, and her children, Mohamed Isse Osman, 19, Ibrahim Isse Osman, 14, and their younger sister Asha Isse Osman, 12, were killed three weeks after emigrating from Somalia to set up a spaza shop in Tambo village, outside Queenstown.

    They were found in a pool of blood after children went to their shop to buy bread.

    The killing is being investigated by the UN High Commission for Refugees in Pretoria which, on learning about the bloodbath, immediately sent an official to the area.

    Deputy regional representative Abel Mbilinyi said they were shocked by the brutality of the killings and wanted to discover whether the attackers had a xenophobic motive.

    We can’t wait for the government to work alone in this,” he said.

    “This is a complex issue so, as the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees, we have to investigate and help where we need to help.”

    But acting provincial police commissioner Nomalady Dlani is convinced the killing was not motivated by xenophobia.

    “We strongly condemn the killing,” said Dlani.

    “The motive of the killing was robbery and we want to dispel the fear that it might be a xenophobic killing.”

    Nomaleti Mdeni, the murdered family’s neighbour, said the four bodies were found by the children after they saw blood splashed all over the place on Friday morning.

    “We thought there was no one inside, but seeing a lot of that blood we knew that something was wrong,” she said.

    “It was a very painful death. They were all naked and their bodies had multiple stab wounds.”

    She said villagers had battled to open the shop as the killers had apparently locked up the room before fleeing.

    The scene that greeted them when the door was eventually opened was so terrible that it had many screaming in horror – the blood-soaked bodies were piled on top of one another.

    They had been repeatedly stabbed and it could be seen that they had been bashed against the walls before they were dragged behind the shop counters.

    “This is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Mdeni.

    Farah’s husband was in the United Kingdom at the time of the murders, but has been informed.

    Swift action by Queenstown police resulted in the arrest of three suspects.

    Mandla Thomas, 22, Melikhaya Ncaphayi, 26, and Masithini Dyasi, 19, appeared in the Queenstown Magistrate’s Court yesterday in connection with the killings.

    Police spokesperson Superintendent Gcinikaya Taleni said four charges of murder were being investigated.

    Police could not confirm that the mother and her 12-year-old daughter were repeatedly raped before they were killed.

    Ahmed Yusuf, a Somali national, said the doctor informed them the woman had 113 stab wounds.

    “What must we do,” he asked.

    “We ran away from our country but it was not like this; we don’t deserve this. Not a single government official came to us and see what happened; nobody cares about us, but we won’t let this go without being challenged.”

    Queenstown Somali Association branch chairperson Osman Gedi said many families moved to South Africa in search of a better life, but instead were treated like outcasts and butchered like animals.

    “Just imagine when they were begging them to stop killing them: it was painful, very painful. They were slaughtered like animals; we saw them, their bodies were full of stab wounds and they were skinned by those knives.

    “They came to the country to get help for the deaf boy to get better, and now this.”

    Another neighbour, Nwabisa Lani, said they were a loving family who, in a short space of time, had got on well with the community.

    “This was a lovely family and we loved them a lot. You could see the mother working hard to look after her children, and we loved the disabled child, he was so sweet,” said Lani.

    As cruel and grave as this murder may be, it is rather strange that this SINGLE incident is now being investigated by the UN. Why would the other THOUSANDS of murders not raise an eyebrow?

    "An average of 55 South Africans are murdered every day"..."more than in many countries which are at war."

    At 55 murders per day, the total number of murders per year is about 20,000, compared to about 16,000 for the United States. The latter, of course, has more than six times the population of South Africa.

    The genocide of the Boers is completely ignored and hardly even reported in South Africa.

    "It's politically correct to kill whites these days,"

    "The white Boer Afrikaner farmer is easily the highest at-risk group for murder on Earth."

    South Africans, (SA has a population of 47 million people) reported 19 202 murders at the SA Police Service from April 2006 to March 2007. (Source)

    The South African farming community has suffered from attacks for many years. The vast majority of the victims have been white farmers, with claims of death tolls of up to 1,700 (July 2005) cited in the media.

    The age of those killed range from as old as 87 years to young infants. Genocide Watch has stated that these attacks constitute early warning signs of genocide against Boers and has criticized the South African government for its inaction on the issue, pointing out that the murder rate for them ("ethno-European farmers" in their report) is four times that of the general South African population.

    View more here.

    IQ Analysis

    This contribution was sent in by reader "VI" and I feel it worthy of posting, however it comes with a caveat.

    I refuse to equate IQ with race because I simply do not believe the colour of your skin pigment is indicative of your intelligence and I don't think "VI" is saying that either. What the reader is trying to say is that, as a general supposition, the decline in intelligence levels and characteristics become evident as a gene pool is exhausted of its brightest and best.

    Simply put, if you put 100 people in a room, it is possible to quantify them into degrees of intelligence. If the group is also multi-faceted you can further segment the percentages per race, gender etc. Now, bear in mind that IQ is not only genetically inherited but is also influenced by environmental factors, culture and education. I guarantee that had Einstein originated in a remote village in Papua New Guinea, although he may have become the brightest kid on the block, we wouldn't know about him today, the theory of relativity or that e=mc² for that matter.

    What "VI" is saying is this: of the 100 people in the room, it figures that the brightest will rise to the top and indeed those become the ones most likely to be able to leave the group should they choose.

    What that does, with due respect to those left behind in the group is that the people with the higher IQ having departed, the new IQ numbers will show that the level of intelligence for the group will have diminished, obviously.

    Extrapolate this analogy to reflect on South African society. It is evident that the people that have left are, for the most part, highly skilled and intelligent as emigration requirements are very stringent. When that number constitutes such a large percentage as has happened over the past 15 years, what remains is, to be frank, not the cream. Consider what "VI" is posturing and decide whether you agree with him.

    - - -

    Recent events surrounding the dismissal of Thabo Mbeki, and the appointment of the temporary President, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, who seems to be making some prudent cabinet changes, has warranted discussing whether things may improve in South Africa.

    Most emigrants, of which I am one, are reluctant émigrés. We would all have remained in South Africa under different circumstances, and many of us, together with the eternal optimists in South Africa, would like to think that a new improved dawn awaits. With this as a back drop I have embarked on some statistical analyses to take a peek at what the future holds. These types of analyses always require some assumptions, and this one is no different.

    Let us assume that the new President, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, becomes the elected President and continues to make prudent cabinet placements. On this basis it would be easy to imagine things improving. I mean it is not inconceivable to believe that the health sector, the judicial system and education would improve if the correct ministerial appointments were made right? So why not delay emigration further, and wait and see? I did, by eight years. You would be wrong.

    The success of a society is largely correlated to its average IQ. This is well documented, and the preponderance of evidence suggests that IQ is genetically acquired, meaning that there are very few interventions that can significantly increase IQ in the short term.

    Spending excessive amounts of money on education certainly isn’t going to transmit anything through to the genes. Furthermore, for a modern society to prosper it needs to have an average IQ of at least 90 to embrace the new technologies in large enough numbers to be effective. It is also well documented that to achieve a bachelors degree requires an IQ of at least 110, although it is largely suggested that a decent degree requires an IQ between 115 – 124.

    Therefore in order for South Africa to prosper in a modern world requires a good supply of people at the various IQ levels, as well as an overall IQ of at least 90, or at least the prospect of achieving this.

    If we analyse the population figures from
    1960 – 1994 we find as follows: (click all images to enlarge)

    Now that we have these figures, we can stratify these numbers according to established IQ measurements.

    What we find is very revealing. Notably that the overall population growth rate was probably well in excess of the growth rates within the desired IQ categories. This inevitably would lead to the disparities we now experience between “haves” and “have nots”.

    It is also apparent that the whites dominated in both categories. It must be
    mentioned that apartheid could not have impacted on genetic IQ enough to bring about these figures.

    But we have been subjected to 14 years of poor policies, emigration and HIV, which undoubtedly has had an impact.

    Here we can see that the White and Asian populations have slowed significantly, probably due to emigration, whereas the Black and Coloured populations have probably slowed due to AIDS. These conclusions are derived simply from the average IQ levels within the respective population groups.

    However imagine for a moment that emigration had not been a factor, nor had HIV. We could have safely assumed that the population growth would have been fairly consistent, and therefore we could extrapolate the
    growth rate out to 2007, instead of relying on the government statistics. What would this reveal?

    Let us assume that the reduction in the White and Asian figures were due to emigration. Let us further assume that the best and the brightest left first, which would mean reducing the crucial numbers within the 110 IQ category. What impact would this have had?

    From the above figures the nightmare starts to unfold. If the emigration figures are close to the differences reported for the Asians and Whites, the impact on skills would be catastrophic.

    You will see that there was at least 1 person with an IQ of 110 for every 27 people at the end of 1994. This may have reduced to 1 in every 147 people.

    You will also notice that although the White flight has significantly impacted the 110 IQ category, Whites remain the largest contributor to this category. You will further notice that post 2007 the Coloured population figures are about to overtake the White population figures.

    Some conclusions can be made.

    There is no prospect of South Africa returning to its former glory so do not delay your emigration plans any further.

    The reduction in white IQ, due to emigration, can explain why it is that so many whites behave so poorly when they should know better. Furthermore, no matter how good the new government is, it will be impossible to overcome the low overall IQ in a short space of time.

    In fact with policies such as social grants, low IQs will continue to explode. Let me indicate that below 70 IQ, you are considered to be retarded, and more than 50% of the Black population fall into this category. It is highly probable that our Universities are passing significant numbers of students with IQs below 110, which undermines the quality of a South African education.

    SA lurches from bad to not very good

    This is such a good article. The points we make here repeatedly and positions we advocate is precisely what has been stated so concisely in this article. I have highlighted the points in bold red.

    And you would not believe where it originates. It is as if these people have a better grasp of what is transpiring in South Africa than our main-stream media. This article was penned by The Gazette (Montreal - Canada), the land of the peecee nazi movement, go figure. We need our journos to be more critical and state the obvious, like this, without fear or favour.

    - - - -

    Fourteen years after apartheid was flushed down the sewer of history, South Africa has entered a less-than-fragrant era of murky internecine politics within the ruling African National Congress.

    A bad president, Thabo Mbeki, has been ousted by his own party, which is almost certain to replace him, after an awkward hiatus that might last until a general election in the summer, with Jacob Zuma, a canny populist with a rackety personal and financial record. It's a far cry from the early years of a newborn rainbow nation under the healing presidency of Nelson Mandela.

    South Africa is the continent's most successful country. It has a vibrant economy. Its GDP amounts to a third of all of sub-Saharan Africa's 48 countries. It has a fine constitution, robust institutions,
    a strongish judiciary, open political debate and an array of good people from all points of its multicoloured spectrum bent on making it a beacon for the rest of Africa. Its influence as a continental peacemaker and economic engine has generally been beneficial. But it sorely needs better leadership.

    It's good that Mbeki has gone. He has been a grave disappointment. He started well as Mandela's chief technocrat, playing an impressive part in the early years in getting the ANC to chuck its old Soviet-sponsored socialism. But he lost his way, surrounded himself with yes-men and became grossly intolerant of opposition.

    Several things stand out. First, his bizarre reluctance to respond rationally to the plague of HIV/AIDS, dabbling instead in the dottiest fringes of unscientific hocus-pocus,
    might have caused millions of needless deaths; 5.5 million of South Africa's 49 million people are afflicted by the virus. Only belatedly has a proper antiretroviral treatment program been rolled out.

    The second big blot on his record has been his failure to bring South Africa's diplomatic, economic and moral weight to bear on Robert Mugabe's tyranny in Zimbabwe.

    Mbeki's defenders claim that his perseverance has brought about the recent power-sharing agreement.
    Not so. If he had acted more firmly from the start, Zimbabwe could have been saved years of misery.

    Third, Mbeki has squandered much of the interracial goodwill created miraculously by Mandela.

    When faced with legitimate criticism on issues such as AIDS and crime,
    all too often Mbeki has responded with unwarranted accusations of racism at any white person who disagreed with him.

    Yet if he disenchanted many of South Africa's whites,
    he has also signally failed, because of his aloofness, to win the trust of South Africa's black masses.

    By comparison, Zuma, his presumed successor, has many admirable qualities.
    He's better with people. His inner toughness was honed during 10 years as a political prisoner on Robben Island. Later, as head of the ANC's intelligence service in the anti-apartheid struggle, he proved a wily operator. In the early years of freedom he helped calm tension between the ANC and a party backed by many Zulus, his own ethnic group.

    He is liked by the poor, the trade unions and the Communist Party. But he's a pragmatist who has sought, so far successfully, to reassure the country's capitalists that he will not lurch to the left.

    Yet Zuma has grave defects, too. He alters his tune to please his audience. Though charges of fraud have twice been dropped on technicalities, a cloud of financial impropriety hangs over him.

    He was acquitted of rape but revealed, during his trial, a striking ignorance of HIV/AIDS, not to mention a chauvinist attitude to women, to put it mildly. His friends have reviled the independent judiciary in virulent terms,
    with little reproach from Zuma.

    It is unclear, after many years at the heart of a liberation movement that tends to identify the interests of party and state as much the same, how genuinely he accepts the constraints of a pluralist parliamentary system.

    In the longer run,
    the country needs a more competitive democracy, for it is in danger of becoming a de-facto one-party state under the ANC. It might be better if the ANC splits (which could yet happen).

    If Zuma is a true democrat, he should seek to change South Africa's party-list system which means that MPs are elected on the basis of party loyalty rather than directly by the ordinary voters.
    This has helped engender a culture of patronage, sycophancy and authoritarianism.

    Ideally, a better person should succeed Mbeki. The caretaker president, Kgalema Motlanthe, might do so well in the next few months that calls could grow for Parliament to elect him as Mbeki's permanent successor.

    That is improbable.
    The ANC looks set to replace a bad leader with one who will make South Africa's well-wishers more than a little queasy.

    © The Gazette (Montreal) 2008