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Shame on the ANC for betraying South Africa’s children



Geoff Sifrin

Taking Issue

A report by Statistics South Africa last week revealed that the percentage of professional, managerial and technical workers in this age group has dropped over the past 20 years, rather than risen as we expected in the free, post-apartheid South Africa.

It is hard to overstate the human catastrophe created by the ruinous government education system. Many other national problems are fixable relatively quickly with sufficient political will and resources and a citizenry demanding action. But a child deprived of a proper education remains handicapped for life. We have created a whole generation of such children.

One response to the government schools’ decline has been the flight to independent or private schools by those fortunate learners whose parents can afford it, resulting in a massive increase in such schools.

In 1990, there were approximately 550 independent schools – mainly white, affluent and exclusive. By 2014, however, some 1 584 independent schools existed, containing over 500 000 learners, 73 per cent black.

The high-fee independent schools had become a minority – only 15 per cent of independent schools charged more than R50 000 per child per annum. The most exclusive private schools, such as Hilton College and Michael House, however, still charge annual fees of about R209 000 and R192 000 respectively.

Jews remain less affected than most South Africans by the abysmal public education system, since over 80 per cent of Jewish children attend private Jewish schools such as King David, which today has several campuses.

There are similar Jewish schools in other main centres – 19 Jewish day schools are affiliated to the SA Board of Jewish Education – whose learners regularly place among the top in the country in matric examinations.

But there are two sides to this coin. While the quality of education at these schools is to be lauded, a negative by-product is the separation it creates between Jews and the rest of society – the shtetl syndrome.

Most ordinary non-Jewish South Africans grow up today never meeting a Jew, and being left only with the – often negative – stereotypes from media and other sources.

The converse is also true. Jewish kids don’t get to mingle with non-Jewish South Africans, preserving the racial separation tormenting this country.

Historically, Jewish parents have also aspired to send their kids to universities. The best universities have always contained Jewish students. However, if South African universities continue to decline into chaos as has been happening countrywide recently, Jews as well as others will choose to go elsewhere, often to the loss of themselves as well as the country.

Poor education among South Africans is part of the picture of the skyrocketing unemployment rate. Some 57 per cent of the age group mentioned in the Stats SA report without a matric were unemployed, while 38 per cent of those with matric were jobless.

Imagine how different South Africa would have been today if the money flittered away over two decades through corruption, President Jacob Zuma’s spending on his private homestead Nkandla – estimated at R246 million – and wastage at state-owned companies, had been spent building schools and training teachers.

It is to Zuma’s personal credit that he overcame his own lack of education to become a hero of the anti-apartheid struggle and ultimately the occupier of the country’s highest office. But he and his government will forever be rogues for how they betrayed this country’s youth and sent them into the world without the tools they deserved.


Read Geoff Sifrin’s regular columns on his blog

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  1. nat cheiman

    May 4, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    ‘Cadres and members of the ANC are so busy looting and conspiring that they don’t have time to attend to the upliftment of the masses.

    Shame on the ANC indeed.’

  2. Choni

    May 5, 2016 at 8:43 am

    ‘What a pity that our communal and Torah leaders don’t teach our children their true identity.

    If our young children were taught that they have there own Land, and that they are in reality not Jews, but Israelis in exile, then they might grow up to yearn for their own land.’

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