It’s not funding and gadgets that will save our children but instead, artistic activities, writes Dr Mogamat Faadiel Arnold. Picture: Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo.
It’s not funding and gadgets that will save our children but instead, artistic activities, writes Dr Mogamat Faadiel Arnold. Picture: Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo.

#EducationWatch: Give children crayons, not iPads

By Mogamat Faadiel Arnold Time of article published Jul 26, 2019

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“A lack of funding from national” is often an excuse the provincial government uses to discredit the ANC.

That the provincial minister of education can blame the lack of national funding for her inability to offer and present quality education to our children is not acceptable.

Funds are often spent in education to prop up existing monitoring structures in failed educational paradigms.

There’s a lack of appreciation and implementation of the advice parents, teachers, principals and civil society give education and government departments.

“They just do what they like,” is the common response to the lack of quality educational management.

Often their policies are drawn up as knee-jerk reactions, based on the blame-game, instead of critically evaluating their lack of skills to run their departments.

“They just don’t listen.”

It’s like speaking to a naughty child. That is what our Western educational model has done to our people - devalued their real adult-human capacities and made them dependent on others, like children for pocket money.

A “lack of funding” is then a common excuse of those who are unable to be creative with what they have. They cannot “upcycle” existing resources to levels of absolute wonder. Political leaders, as students, were only taught to “recycle” - use again what was used without advancement.

That’s why they reshuffle the same broken parts in education and it continues to deteriorate.

What is needed is a careful study of the details of the financial allocations of the Education Department - unfortunately not publicly available. It would reveal that an enormous amount of money is pumped into structures that are obsolete, unproductive, wasteful and actually detrimental.

Let me give an example. The money spent on consultants, new policy writing, safety and security to curb problems of gangsterism and crime at schools, could have been used to harness the creativity of every child at schools, with the simple provision of artistic materials for each child, to beautify their classrooms, corridors and school playgrounds. iPads cannot do that - they’re virtual, not real.

These artistic activities of children, with the guidance of creative, holistic teachers, can then serve as practical assessment activities for all subjects simultaneously.

The outdated lesson-plan- chalk-talk-period-teacher-centred-autocratic-educational-paradigm creates inactivity, frustration, obedience to authority and disrespect for children’s talents, skills and personal knowledge, and that gives rise to gangsterism and crimes at schools.

When education ministries step out of their fearful minds of losing control, they will realise they have lots more money left to create quality education.

Giving children artistic materials is more valuable than allocating the funds into the school account (It will be used for something else “more important”.) It’s the personal touch of care for each child that is lacking at schools, and that creates the ills in the whole system of Western education.

We’re more concerned about completing the syllabus than valuing the children and their creativity.

I’ve found that many drug addicts are very artistic, but the drive of the country for Stem (science, technology, engineering, maths) marginalises them and pushes them away from learning.

Yet art is the underlying spatial and creative need for maths, science, technology and engineering. If there’s no artist to bring an idea from the realm of imagination, then nothing can be produced, not even a mathematical formula to explain the imagined phenomenon.

Art is the foundation of everything we experience. So if that ability is ignored, then what is left is an academic environment with no values and depth.

Now that is the real reason behind drug addiction, gangsterism, crime, depression and teenage pregnancies, and the reason for millions of rand and lives lost.

To value each child’s creativity is the way towards quality education and saving money for further education.

One textbook (plus one iPad) can be bought and workshopped for all subjects at all levels, if the minds and hearts of education ministries are ready to integrate and acknowledge one holistic textbook.

That will save millions that are wasted on different subject textbook allocations. Often the prescribed textbooks lack certain core issues that force teachers to use auxiliary books, resources and photocopies that translate into more millions lost.

The period structures fractionalise learning and will disturb the flow of learning and application of technology and coding. That will waste millions that will presently be spent on introducing these features into schools.

There are many schools with computer labs that are under-utilised because of the period structures and set teaching hour timetables that are given to teachers.

Our present education is based on mistrust - which saps millions from quality education, because it’s used for monitoring and auditing administration policies.

When highly knowledgeable people with huge salaries are doing clerical work rather than teaching or helping students and teachers in educational service provision, then millions are wasted.

The lack of holistic insight in educational ministries wastes funding and makes “quality education” an illusion.

* Dr Mogamat Faadiel Arnold is the Director of the ICRA Comprehensive School home-based tutorship service and a local & international education consultant.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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