FOR YET another year we witness a negative manifestation of our antiquated education system in the agony and dissatisfaction of thousands of students and their parents who did not get their first-choice school via the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA). This is our folly – to attain equal results from an unequal system.
The debate on the pros and cons of this exercise will ensue for a few weeks with both qualified and unqualified experts weighing in from various perspectives and agendas until the dust settles and nothing changes. Exciting the drama this year, though, are the dimensions of stress, book bag weight and leaked results.
In the end, we will resolve to keep the status quo, notwithstanding the negative outcomes, because some voices and special interests carry more political weight than persons qualified in the field of education research.
The innocent ones are the tools through which power can be exercised and their interests become secondary in a social stratification battle that has its roots in our inhumane historical past, the stress, agony, and intellectual/creative suppression being the proud outcomes of a supposed desire to liberate human minds. This annual mindless exercise continues to pass for education even though we know better as a society.
Our lofty national development agendas, which are all predicated upon an education system that should enable people to realise their maximum human potential, continue to fall short of the mark. Our human capital is simply not being allowed to develop to its full potential via a primary education system that focuses essentially on cramming and regurgitating information in an exam that cannot even differentiate itself as either an assessment or an evaluation.
This poor foundation continues to shower the country with its fruits of crime, criminality, social inequity and social injustice on the one level and creative and innovative bankruptcy on the other. Our capacity for the creation of knowledge or technological innovativeness continues to be one of our major handicaps in our quest to secure global competitiveness.
Our investment in education, while quite substantial, yields dividends that continues to severely limit our capacity to simply feed ourselves or provide quality housing, public utilities and healthcare services to large segments of our population. Our creative and innovative genius as a people seems to be manifested in more negative than positive ways, significantly contributing to the social degradation that is unfolding before our very eyes on a daily basis.
Yet this has not been a wake-up call to reassess what we are doing and adopting the temerity and fortitude to finally do that which is right and in the best interest of the society as a whole rather than a segment of the population. And so the slumber continues with the negative outcomes being accepted as par for the course or fodder for political drama.
We continue to do the same while hoping for different results. Our young men and women see wisdom in joining gangs and engaging in lives of crime and criminality rather than persist with an education arrangement that loudly declares to them from an early age that they are destined to fail owing to their diminished social capital.
Hope for intellectual liberation is all but lost as they devise and execute methods of exacting revenge on a societal arrangement that is intent on keeping them marginalised.
The minority who do succeed and proceed to become highly certified have no qualms about expressing their material greed; that corruption has become synonymous with positions of leadership and power. Of course such a social state can only be perpetuated in an atmosphere of ignorance and helplessness on the part of the majority of the population.
Who would have thought that something as innocent as the SEA could have such far-reaching implications? More than a simple exercise to graduate students form primary to secondary school, it is a tool that preserves a class differential. Its joy is the wealth amassed by a few, duping the rest into thinking that their happiness is expressed via fete, jam and wine.
In the interim there are voices of pain and agony that are begging for good sense and even mercy to prevail in the hearts and minds of those who rejoice in their corridors of power. Intellectual enslavement begins in our primary schools, personified in SEA. This is the sad reality of an antiquated education model that was perfectly suited for an era where humans were seen and treated as economic capital to be owned by hegemonic minorities.