Does a white man has to fight for black kids education?

prince mashele
Not taking our kids education serious, says political commentator Prince Mashele.

Only 3.2% of black youth aged between 18 and 29 attended university in 2013, compared to 18.7% of white youth. The bigger picture is telling: 57% of South African youth – mainly black – don’t have matric.

In today’s knowledge-based economy, to be uneducated is to be condemned to a lifetime of unemployment. In other words, if you don’t have matric, and if you are not studying for a post-matric qualification, chances are you will not work until you die.

A few of them will try their hand in the informal economy; others will stay at home and depend on their grandparents’ old-age grants. Some will torment society as drug-smoking criminals.

Nobody must blame these young people for the predicament in which they find themselves. They have been failed by a black government that promised to improve education for black people.

It is a shame on us black people that, after 22 years of a black government, South Africa’s education system continues to favour white children. Hendrik Verwoerd must be laughing in his grave.

We must not blame apartheid for this. We must blame our own government for not taking the future of black children seriously.

When the English were in charge of South Africa, they did not educate the children of Afrikaners. They focused on their own children.

When the Afrikaners took over power, they did not waste time blaming the English; they used the state to improve the economic conditions of their people, focusing mainly on educating their children.

The English used resources at their disposal to build and resource universities for their children. Later on, the Afrikaners did the same.

It is only now that the ANC is talking about new universities in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape. This is laughable considering that the ANC government has done nothing to bring Fort Hare University closer to the quality level of the University of Cape Town.

The quality of infrastructure, teaching and research at the University of Zululand was poor before the ANC came to power. Zululand remains poor 22 years under a black government.

We can foretell that the two new universities will be black and of low quality. Our black government has no track record of producing quality education for black people – either at school or university level.

The painful truth is that, if there were no formerly white schools or historically white universities, the whole of South Africa’s public education system would be nothing more than a nationalised mediocrity scheme, ruled by Sadtu or some other counter-revolutionary union. If you think this is untrue, ask where the children of black politicians study, or where the children of Sadtu teachers go to school.

They don’t go to schools in the township, an indication that the teachers and politicians don’t have confidence in the very education system they are presiding over.

But the problem is much deeper than that. It is a problem of us black people as a whole.

When there was an outrageous textbook scandal in Limpopo, it took an NGO from Gauteng, Section27, led by a white man, Mark Heywood, to fight for the educational rights of black children.

Why did they not organise themselves to fight for the rights of their children?

The argument that black people don’t have money to mobilise does not wash.

Every Easter, buses clog our national roads, transporting black people to ZCC headquarters in Moria in Limpopo.

Why can’t the same buses block all roads to the premier’s office to tell the government never to gamble with the future of black children?

If you were to compare the amount of money used by Section27 to take the government to court with the money used to transport blacks to Moria, Heywood would look like a pauper.

After having a good breakfast from food produced by a white farmer somewhere, the black middle class who live in cities heap all manner of complaints on white people.

They forget that it is Heywood who fights for black children in rural provinces like Limpopo.

Any black person who is revolted by this column must tell us what they did to defend the black children of Limpopo when their educational rights were under attack by a black government.

It is clear from what Statistics South Africa has told us that our black government is complicit in destroying the future of black children.

It is also evident that we black people don’t care.

The question is: Can Mark Heywood, alone, save black children? Black people, please wake up!

Ed Note: The story first appeared in the Sowetanlive by Prince Mashele, a political commentator.

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