SA schoolchildren are hungry for knowledge

Comment on this story


ST_sa column pic0

INLSA

INNOVATION: One approach towards improving education is to give freedom to extraordinary educators and other qualified operators to implement their own ideas about what their pupils need to reach new levels of excellence, says the writer. Picture: Cindy Waxa

Inspiration and tragedy. Those are the two words I wrestled with over the Atlantic Ocean this past weekend, flying home to the US. Taking the negative first (so we can end on the positive), my visit to South Africa was tragic as I learned about the current reality: less than 5 percent of black children get all the way through the South African educational pipeline and graduate from a university.

And I didn’t just learn about it; I saw it. I saw teachers’ work rooms in schools in townships where the teachers were beaten-yet-present at best, and asleep at worst. What was the most tragic was that the beaten feelings, or lack of belief and action among teachers, was not matched by what I saw among students: I met children hungry to learn, hungry to do well in matric to be able to study at universities, and hungry to provide their families and themselves with a better life in the future.

And that’s where the inspiration began. The children. Wow! The children have fire in their bellies and songs in their hearts. Children have proven to us over the past 19 years of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) just how resilient they are, and this US lesson has the potential to play out the same way in South Africa.

There is a dream that is alive and well in South Africa. From the rural village boy who walked to the nearest town that had internet to learn about universities and is now studying at the University of Cape Town (UCT) to the kids from Khayelitsha who dream of becoming astronauts, accountants, doctors and lawyers, to the UCT girl from Alexandra Township who goes hungry because she sends home her meal subsidy to help her family eat, I could see it.

It is this dream that apartheid-era reformers told me was the source of their conviction and belief during those trying years, and it is this dream that is now at a crossroads: if only the adults can find ways to help children achieve their aspirations, then the sky is the limit for South Africa.

Schools are the natural focal point for such direct action with children – particularly the public education system, which is supposed to exist to benefit children. It’s hard to find people who argue with that point. But if we truly look at the laws, rules, regulations and policies that are in place in South Africa, it is too easy to wonder if the system is truly set up to benefit the children, or if it has turned into a jobs programme for adults.

This is not to say caring, skilled adults aren’t critically important in the school system; children do not reach their educational potential without helpful adults. The larger question, however, is whether the system itself sets up pupils, teachers and principals for success or whether it makes failure the norm and success the exception.

The challenges in South Africa post-apartheid are vast, so it’s unreasonable to imagine a government-mandated, top-down approach to education where only one magical way for the provinces to deliver education to every community is the answer for all children. But the government – by definition a top-down structure – is ultimately responsible and accountable for the South African education system. Which brings us to a riddle: how can a top-down entity provide the flexibility and quality to allow for different (and better) solutions in different schools for different children, all focused on one extraordinary outcome – helping pupils achieve the dream?

There is no single correct answer to this riddle, but there is definitely one wrong answer: repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results. That, as is so often said, is the definition of insanity.

One different approach that has shown promise in other education systems is for the government to give freedom to extraordinary educators and other qualified operators to implement their own ideas about what their pupils need to improve outcomes and reach new levels of excellence. The South African Department of Education could allow non-governmental organisations to compete for the privilege and honour of operating their own government schools, but release the teachers and principals to do what they know needs to be done. After all, it is the country’s great teachers and principals who are closest to the challenges and therefore in the best position to think of solutions. And if the government allows these bottom-up solutions to flourish, then the government will be in a position to harvest the innovative and successful ideas to help replicate them throughout government schools nationwide.

The key to managing this transition would be ensuring that all schools were held to high standards of quality. The government would have to set and maintain such accountability standards; schools who meet them would earn the freedom to innovate to meet their pupils’ needs. Does this model have a precedent? Yes, there are several around the globe. The one closest to my heart is public chartering in the US. The experience of US charters, particularly those that have scaled and provided quality across multiple schools in multiple states, has valuable lessons to share with South Africa’s education leaders as they seek to improve the quality of education for all of the nation’s kids.

I listened to Professor Jonathan Jansen on a panel about models for quality education in South Africa. He spoke about a belief that we share at KIPP: promises to children are sacred.

l Mike Feinberg is co-founder of KIPP, a network of public charter schools for students from disadvantaged communities and low-income families in the US.


sign up
 
 

Comment Guidelines



  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.

     

Newspaper Subscriptions
butterflykisses14
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 31 and 51.
View Profile
DaffodilTulip
I'm a 48 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
Isolabelle
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Wonderer_0202
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 52.
View Profile
Ja9
I'm a 26 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 26 and 36.
View Profile
Sugababe
I'm a 41 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 42.
View Profile
SATYNTJIE
I'm a 52 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile
Darkangel_opiel
I'm a 45 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 55.
View Profile
mystiqueZN
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 27 and 45.
View Profile
Lulu_101
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 45.
View Profile
FancyFace32
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 58.
View Profile
tas1989
I'm a 25 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 24 and 40.
View Profile
Diena_van_die_Eike
I'm a 49 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 49 and 62.
View Profile
Belind4_M
I'm a 19 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 19 and 30.
View Profile
Sweet_Serenity
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 45.
View Profile
ioio
I'm a 37 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
OneWay
I'm a 39 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 47.
View Profile
KiTella
I'm a 31 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 29 and 42.
View Profile
Charms1203
I'm a 39 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
Lemoenbloeisel
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 42.
View Profile
Grace62
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 42.
View Profile
Gem24
I'm a 24 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 40.
View Profile
Elyn1980
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 42.
View Profile
Smarag
I'm a 20 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 22 and 30.
View Profile
Viv42
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 55.
View Profile
KissFromARose
I'm a 58 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 55 and 64.
View Profile
Boulderhopper
I'm a 44 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 50.
View Profile
Bubblegumskunk
I'm a 40 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 43.
View Profile
HottFoxx
I'm a 46 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 55.
View Profile
TLCfree2bmex3
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 39.
View Profile
LuckyCharm_440
I'm a 29 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 29 and 40.
View Profile
brokenheart2_cnb
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
Sparkie92
I'm a 22 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 22 and 29.
View Profile
bluemon
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
blondgirl
I'm a 57 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 53 and 60.
View Profile
00butterflygirl00
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 36.
View Profile
chicky582
I'm a 25 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 30.
View Profile
Comet43
I'm a 43 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 54.
View Profile
SkyLark67
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Bizkit2808
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
spangled_sparrow
I'm a 50 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
voelkos
I'm a 54 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 56.
View Profile
itu22
I'm a 22 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 37.
View Profile
LOVINGLIFE417
I'm a 45 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 43 and 50.
View Profile
AngelBabe1
I'm a 27 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 39.
View Profile
MustLoveDogz
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 33 and 43.
View Profile
Poppielap007
I'm a 23 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 29.
View Profile
Bella_11
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
MonaLisa100
I'm a 45 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 50.
View Profile
ContagiousLaughter
I'm a 41 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 44.
View Profile
AmaJ
I'm a 44 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 42 and 50.
View Profile
Chanex
I'm a 20 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 23 and 26.
View Profile
Mianli
I'm a 31 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 45.
View Profile
Juliet8
I'm a 50 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 65.
View Profile
Kwarenina
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 42 and 52.
View Profile
Believer001
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 40.
View Profile
AM1234
I'm a 41 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 46.
View Profile
HoopvolleToekoms
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 32 and 39.
View Profile
lovely00
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 39 and 67.
View Profile
Pretty_Nerd
I'm a 28 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 37.
View Profile
Athena
I'm a 37 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 45.
View Profile
lookingsexy200
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 34 and 45.
View Profile
kim2702
I'm a 46 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 38 and 50.
View Profile
Stiletto1
I'm a 53 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 47 and 57.
View Profile
CC82
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
blom788
I'm a 25 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
Natz79
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
Jasmayn
I'm a 56 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 55 and 65.
View Profile
AMy_303
I'm a 39 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
supe24
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 65.
View Profile
KarooBoereMeisie
I'm a 34 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 40.
View Profile
Graciousheart
I'm a 47 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 44 and 56.
View Profile
AGX
I'm a 36 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 44.
View Profile
Verlore13
I'm a 27 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 32.
View Profile
veldmuis007
I'm a 33 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 35.
View Profile
This_is_m3
I'm a 45 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 50.
View Profile
GWTFT
I'm a 41 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 40 and 48.
View Profile
JustLooking69
I'm a 56 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 50 and 60.
View Profile
dreamsoftly
I'm a 49 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 47 and 58.
View Profile
noirsette
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 37 and 45.
View Profile
iamclassy
I'm a 43 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 50 and 62.
View Profile
love_passionately
I'm a 43 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
ddb65
I'm a 49 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 50 and 62.
View Profile
Tamtam31
I'm a 31 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
Gem31
I'm a 24 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
_Alwayssmiling
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 41.
View Profile
DelightfullyTipsy
I'm a 38 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 38.
View Profile
Fordfiest1
I'm a 42 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 35 and 50.
View Profile
Dreamer1987
I'm a 27 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
Lizzzzz
I'm a 28 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 35.
View Profile
Stella143
I'm a 35 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 34 and 45.
View Profile
stofvoetjie
I'm a 18 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 18 and 25.
View Profile
SKY248
I'm a 52 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 44 and 52.
View Profile
J_Bean
I'm a 30 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
lenQ313
I'm a 19 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 22 and 28.
View Profile
Lady66
I'm a 48 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 47 and 55.
View Profile
thrillsandfrills
I'm a 40 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 41 and 45.
View Profile
PhoenixLin
I'm a 32 year old woman looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 42.
View Profile
NAS3000
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 43 and 53.
View Profile
Soulsearcher72
I'm a 42 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
Woody777
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
arew
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 55.
View Profile
TheRealPeterPan
I'm a 35 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 35.
View Profile
boersoekvrou14
I'm a 39 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 42.
View Profile
GenuineJ
I'm a 64 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 64.
View Profile
50pluslooking
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
niemandsland
I'm a 30 year old man looking to meet men between the ages of 28 and 45.
View Profile
Gster1
I'm a 64 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile
WanderingShadow
I'm a 39 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 20 and 40.
View Profile
Travelbug_222
I'm a 76 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile
Summerstorm_007
I'm a 60 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 58.
View Profile
MrJay
I'm a 31 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 36.
View Profile
WieEnWaar
I'm a 63 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 62.
View Profile
Rumrun
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 44 and 56.
View Profile
AJK1110
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 55.
View Profile
honeybush_ht
I'm a 55 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Jazdaboss
I'm a 26 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
bellagio
I'm a 69 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 55 and 65.
View Profile
matiekat
I'm a 66 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
IceDad66
I'm a 48 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 45.
View Profile
Espavo
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 48.
View Profile
WagOngeduldig
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
Holomig
I'm a 37 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 36.
View Profile
happymaker66
I'm a 48 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
sailor_X897
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 60.
View Profile
cloudhopper
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Rebelinbluejeans
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 62.
View Profile
Jurgy62
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 37 and 55.
View Profile
DJStarglance
I'm a 55 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
Romanticseb
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 57.
View Profile
Rich_H
I'm a 48 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 48.
View Profile
MOOLMAN
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 62.
View Profile
deeptime
I'm a 53 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 58.
View Profile
srchinluv
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 46 and 65.
View Profile
Belligerent69
I'm a 45 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 44.
View Profile
Boereman
I'm a 52 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 52.
View Profile
JustJve99
I'm a 47 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 45.
View Profile
big_guy_soft_heart
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 42.
View Profile
rio77
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 60.
View Profile
Pete_1
I'm a 70 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 55 and 65.
View Profile
Fairtalk101
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
Breukes
I'm a 35 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 26 and 35.
View Profile
gentlebutcrazy
I'm a 58 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
Deipnosophist
I'm a 40 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
Marley77
I'm a 37 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 35.
View Profile
maybe_111
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 23 and 39.
View Profile
tigercat
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 22 and 54.
View Profile
Glorious_Quest
I'm a 45 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 32 and 45.
View Profile
Yinyani
I'm a 57 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 55.
View Profile
skyandsand
I'm a 31 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
Bushbaby210
I'm a 27 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 21 and 35.
View Profile
Stream_Net
I'm a 32 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 24 and 33.
View Profile
LiveLifeAlways
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 33 and 41.
View Profile
cornrlius205
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 50.
View Profile
annns
I'm a 51 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 48 and 56.
View Profile
ch_nb
I'm a 28 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 45.
View Profile
JONGKEREL
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 49 and 55.
View Profile
Liefasb
I'm a 63 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 60.
View Profile
Kenfisha123
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 55.
View Profile
BobTheExtremeBuilder
I'm a 47 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 47.
View Profile
Btt76
I'm a 38 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 42.
View Profile
TheDuke_99
I'm a 36 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 28 and 42.
View Profile
Apalis23
I'm a 50 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 39 and 48.
View Profile
Ben_57
I'm a 57 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 42 and 55.
View Profile
Geard1977
I'm a 37 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 27 and 38.
View Profile
MAX_33
I'm a 55 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 33 and 53.
View Profile
QuietDreamer
I'm a 34 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 35.
View Profile
TheRisingSun
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 40.
View Profile
Lifechanger_7
I'm a 25 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 30.
View Profile
oldschool_romantic
I'm a 26 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 19 and 31.
View Profile
LEO1982
I'm a 32 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 24 and 40.
View Profile
earthwormjim1968
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 40 and 48.
View Profile
OldGoat4400
I'm a 53 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 35 and 48.
View Profile
LoveFriendFirst123
I'm a 56 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 72.
View Profile
oth1982
I'm a 32 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 100.
View Profile
MF__802
I'm a 38 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 20 and 40.
View Profile
drurie
I'm a 66 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 60 and 66.
View Profile
amormeu
I'm a 100 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 27.
View Profile
Stressfree
I'm a 58 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 42 and 52.
View Profile
DoctorSpin
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 30 and 45.
View Profile
saks001
I'm a 61 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 47 and 59.
View Profile
Rick1508
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 49.
View Profile
philip_unplugged514
I'm a 62 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 50 and 65.
View Profile
umustbsomewhere
I'm a 61 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 55.
View Profile
Carden
I'm a 32 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 24 and 30.
View Profile
waitingforgodot
I'm a 68 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 53 and 60.
View Profile
Double_N
I'm a 41 year old man looking to meet men between the ages of 25 and 50.
View Profile
Kent123
I'm a 54 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 60.
View Profile
marcj4u
I'm a 48 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 50.
View Profile
koolstoof55
I'm a 59 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 45 and 63.
View Profile
peyton515
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 36 and 46.
View Profile
letslook
I'm a 46 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 25 and 45.
View Profile
rossi46
I'm a 66 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 55 and 65.
View Profile
B_B_B
I'm a 43 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 18 and 45.
View Profile
CapeLover
I'm a 49 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 41 and 50.
View Profile
Free_Spirited
I'm a 45 year old man looking to meet women between the ages of 32 and 42.
View Profile

Business Directory