A brick in the wall … 15

As a part of my studies I am busy with this module on learning in the workplace and it makes me sad to see what is happening in some of our schools. 

I read about this school in the Eastern Cape. The classrooms were appalling at Menziwa High School. It lacked significant portions of their walls. Windows were broken or blow out by strong wings exposed.  (Past tense, because the school was burned down)

 Pupils’ anger was ignited into an explosion last week: they torched their school.  98 children were arrested for arson.  The allegations are running forwards and backwords between the Education department and the school’s principal.  For three months promises were made about how the school will be improved.

There is a high percentage of unemployed youth, but how must Menziwa High School’s pupils start tertiary education with a foundation of a school history like this?  Why can’t some of the Skills Development Funds (SDF) not be taken to upgrade schools?  It will contribute to learning, which is one of the goals of the SDF. Can’t more companies adopt schools and assist in the process of uplifting?

(Ps. The post tile is ‘a brick in the wall’, because this is what the children need before education can continue …. walls… proper class rooms.

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15 thoughts on “A brick in the wall …

  • Wilma de Villiers Post author

    Ivan, I agree with you that there are children that ‘do not like school’, but disagree that one can say ‘they never liked school’.  I don’t have statistics to proof it, but many children are not negative about school.  If they have to choose between school and school holidays, most of them will choose the latter. Aren’t we as workers not the same? 

    Your statement ‘the young have always been unruly, etc.’ is also very harsh.  What Beverley said is true:  “… we have created a tantrum society’, but who is to blame for that? … the youth or the adults?

    Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.
    -Carl G. Jung

  • Denver Beech

    There are much talk about the current education and sylabii which in adequately prepare learners for higher education and the work place. before we change the education standard and sylabii we need to change the attitude of the youth. Many are non caring about there future. In my mind i percieve that if the state cannot supply decent service delivery, seeing to the basic needs of the people , what hope do they as learners have for the future

  • Beverley Busisiwe Mokoto

    I’ts sad and really embarassing to accept the fact that we have created a tantrum society whereby the only effective, fast and efficient way of getting attention from authorities is through burning and destroying property. We desperately need  serious interventions and action  oriented commitment on matters of national interest from  the government and private sector. I think  all sectors have done enough research and investigations on these issues and now it’s time to ACT. Peole have heard about  proposals and plans to develop and improve conditions in education  but what they need is the visibility of plans into action. This will at least evoke feelings of hope and dissolve despair from our society.


  • Wilma de Villiers Post author

    Nqobile, I agree with you that proper leadership will have a positive effect on what is happening in our schools.  There are many principals, ministers of education and other people involved in education that do not put the needs of the children first.  Either they do not have the skills or they focus more on political issues than on education.  In the Green Paper reference is also made to management and the role thereof.

  • Nqobile Mlandeli

    It can not be disputed that proper classrooms are necessary for proper learning/teaching to take place. However,my view is that the Eastern Cape issue goes deeper than lack of discipline on the part of the learners. 

      It can generally be agreed that part of behaviour of school learners is moulded/influenced by educators (teachers) through their logo parentis role. Therefore in an environment where the teachers are generally demoralised, they are most likely to neglect some of their duties and sadly, to some point – spill the sad feelings to their learners who spend most of the time with them. 

    Dwelling on the expressed notion, I can share with you my brief experience with some educators during my training visit to the Eastern Cape. At the end of February and beginning of March (for two weeks), i had an opportunity to visit 2 High schools in the outskirts of Umthata, then another abt 45km to the rural part of Cofimvaba. Most of the discussion among teachers across all these schools was their dissatisfaction with the EC Head of the Education Department– Mr Manya. It was my first time to hear about him, but i could sense that all educators who were involved in the discussion about him, and the Ministry in general, were really disheartened about a number of issues: the termination of temporary-teacher contracts; inability to process teacher payment in time, lack of commitment to develop schools among other issues. I can also witness that one of the school’s classrooms walls are built of mud. One educator actually jokingly said he was going to revert to teaching learners the opposite of what they were supposed to learn bcoz the Ministry does not care abt him. 

       Given this scenario of governance, where a leader is renowned for neglecting his personnel, one can sense even the type of motivation/moulding/influence that educators in such a situation will pass to their learners. They will definitely not have time to encourage their learners to do anything positive in view of the Ministry, instead they can give them the lee-way to subbortage such a Ministry. In conclusion, I strongly feel that proper leadership is highly required especially in the EC, besides the shortage of resources to develop the infrastructure.

  • Bianca - Anne P Moll

    My view are that the MEC’s of each Province should start to invest money into the upliftment of education in their Province as well as the Premier’s. They were allocated funds and they should take this and use it in a manner that will further education in our schools. I don’t think the money of the SDF should be utilise for this since these funds were allocated for training. Huge amounts are available for infrastructure and the MEC’s of Educations with their Premiers should investigate this with the MEC of Public Works and work out a feasible plan to do what is expected from them. And yes, business can also support schools. I think we all should start taking an active role in uplifting the schools and other structures around us, and stop awaiting Government input.

    We also sit with a problem with our Youth – they are ill discipline and generally out of control, not really because of anything, but because their minds has been poisoned at home, at school and with other external factors. We should address this ill discipline of the youth as well. We do look upon politicians and think it is all their doing, but I differ…I witness daily how kids are being poisoned and when they reach 14/15 go out of control.

    Marius and Sylvia – I pretty much share your view points. I think the time has come to be active, as passive and to do more than just to talk. Time for talk and blogging is over, time to take action and just do what is required without expecting revenue.

    Danie, yes during my time at Merseta and prior I do remember the writing of those Unit Standards, and what I have experience all developers conceive themselves to be the best … not necessary on the point or besides the point but all consider themselves to be experts. I even see it today… One of the reasons that we have education of adult learning in a “mess” is maybe cause the material written is not up to standard and not focus on providing the necessary skills … it is a matter of cut and paste … and through that we have lost value of learning material – as you remember me : I say it as it is. However those were fun days, I remember.

  • Danie van Heerden

    it was the most likely thing to see when we were doing our merseta course in helping to write unit standards for various artisans.  it was noticeable that most of the artisans present had a little knowledge of theire trade and this all stems from the drop in education gained at school.  each writer here has a point that all should consider and that is class rooms and better teachers now it is all chaos.

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    Marius, you have a very good point there.  We do have quite structured views about how things must look and be and you’re quite right, it’s not the form of the structure that matters (as long as it meets a certain standard) it’s the education and learning that’s the objective.  Coming from a manufacturing environment I’m accustomed to the concept that we should use the machinery to the maximum as close to 24/7/365 as possible.  

    If we adopt the same concept for civic resources, we could have more multi-purpose civic structures, we could have children using them weekdays, learning adults in the weekday evenings, and then community, sports, leisure and religious bodies using them over the weekends.  If we then had good quality living quarters on site attached to the multipurpose centre, where a supervisor could live with their family, we would also solve the maintenance and security issues – and house a family.

  • Chris Reay

    As expected, the politicians have turned the whole issue of learners leaving the Eastern Cape and heading for the Western Cape into a blame and racial issue. Why can they not spend their energy getting the schools right?

    The simple question is: Why did the learners decide to go from East to West? The answer has to be obvious. But clearly not to the education authorities and politicians in the Eastern Cape. It’s another brick taken out of the wall.

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    Please also look at the Blog that I posted – “School @ the centre of community” – the initiative of Louise van Rhyn and Symphonia encouraging those with business leadership and management skills to work with school principals. 

    It seems to me that we need a multi-pronged approach – the physical infrastructure buildings, furniture, toilets,libraries and school grounds, secondly the leadership and management of the school, and thirdly the the working with teachers to capacitate and empower them, and finally may I suggest that the learners need psychological support and counselling.  And yes, Wilfred – we definitely mean “building” bricks :). 

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    Hi Wilma and Alan

    It is truly disastrous that things are so bad that it really makes minimal difference that the school is burned down.  Surely there is enough consensus and people of good will who want to solve this problem to be able to make a difference – and quickly!  This is the report from Cosatu Today (22 March 2012) – Fawu who are very active in the rural areas issued a statement quoted below (I thought it might be useful to quote for your studies Wilma) :

    Moleko Phakedi, FAWU Deputy General Secretary, 20 March 2012 The Food and Allied Workers Union is calling upon the communities of Grabouw to exercise calm and unite around their common goal of pursuing access to quality education and the improvement of overall infrastructure in the Overberg town. 
     We are appalled at the disruption of education and outbreaks of violence as reported in the media and would like to see workers and pupils returning to places of work and schools as soon as possible. While we are aware that there is tension in the town, the eruption of violence we have seen is of no benefit to anyone and we remain deeply concerned over many of our members who are farm workers  living in the Grabouw area. 
    We therefore call on the MEC of Education, Donald Grant to immediately intervene to resolve the issue promptly rather than engaging in playing the blame- game.”

  • Wilma de Villiers Post author

    Yes, Allan, if I see what is now happening at Grabouw (riots, etc) I tend to agree with you that it is sometimes a political battlefield.  It is a challenge to distinguish between when it is a desperate outcry from learners or is it (as you stated) an ideological battleground.

  • Alan Hill

    I think it is sad to see the neglect. We will never get education right when we teach under trees or in shacks. However, I think schools are being used as an ideological battleground and as a way of furthering personal and party agendas.