TRANSFORMING EDUCATION

Transforming Educational Institutions in SA

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Recent debates have mushroomed in Republic of South Africa on the issue of educational standards et al. Our officialdom have become mum in broad-day light as they're battling to provide clarity on the matter. For the arm-chair critics will clearly tell, that educational institutions within South Africa, especially tertiary institutions, there continues waves of calls to calls to “transform and demacratise.” And yet, evidence at hand points to varying, if not conflicting, interpretation of what this transformation means –and by what means it can be best achieved. The underlying question remain: Is democratic South Africa ready?

Generally, the debates on transformation (of educational institutions at least) have predominantly focused on structural aspects of these institutions, to wit the composition of the constitution of management structures and subsidiary bodies, as well as issue relating to the accessibility of these institutions, especially for black African students. A typical cry from those (mostly white structures ) opposed to transformation has been that transformation will lead to a decline in ‘standards ”. Implicitly suggesting that the prevailing ‘standards' are ideal for the country. In reality , white South Africa has its own standards for granted and elevated these to some religion.

To this extent, at the best perception of change on the part of white institutions only goes as far as “revealing” these standards to the otherwise ignorant black man. And who, in the natural order of things, is supposed to follow unquestioningly. If we are to share a common future, per the dictates of the NDP 2030 Vision, black and white people need to negotiate a new frank vision, and with it a concept of standards, but first let us agree that, since no one has lived this future before, none can therefore have all the answers to the puzzle in-front of us because it's indeed 'puzzling'.

Having said that, though, it still remains a fact that for any educational system to be worth the public money spent on it, it has to produce a desirable product.
To be exact, an educational system, at least in modern sense , needs to produce an intellectually functional and economically “unusable” cadre.

May we also note the positive step taken by the community of University of Cape Town in appointing the second black African woman to lead the institution as Vice-Chancellor. Indeed, we believe that Prof. Mamokgethi Phakeng deserves the opportunity because she embodies the post. Felicitations to Prof. Phakeng.

Koketso Marishane is an NDP 2030 Ambassador and EALP fellow at UCT. He writes as a concerned citizen.

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