Student teachers must go where needed
Having white teachers in township schools does not mean that black teachers are not good enough, says Bhekithemba Mbatha.
Johannesburg - From Tuesday, townships and rural matric classes in Gauteng are scheduled to go live with connectivity, e-books and 3D multimedia boards. But this will not solve our education crisis.
South Africa’s democratic dispensation has many shortcomings in addressing questions of race and the question of human development. Our young democracy was orchestrated in the spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But it also inherited the apartheid regime’s institutions of separate development.
We are now faced with many shortcomings and contradictions, especially in the education system. We have adopted “nation-building” on the basis of structural contradictions.
Students who are studying education, to be teachers, policymakers and lecturers, come from various racial and socio-economic backgrounds. Many have opted to study education because they have a passion to teach the nation and to play a significant role in shaping and nurturing raw material to be something magnificent in the near future.
But racial divisions are exposed when education students are faced with a compulsory part of their studies: teaching experience. Students are provided with a list of schools that they can choose from. While many black students are excited to offer their services to schools in both townships as well as formerly “white” areas, white students do not choose to go and teach in a township school.
Are white students not yet ready to offer their services in schools in KwaMashu, Umlazi, Chesterville, Chatsworth – poverty-stricken townships where young black people obtain their education? Are they too paralysed by stereotypes of townships as anti-white, crime-infested breeding grounds for criminals?
Even our politicians and education experts do not question why there are no white teachers in township schools. By failing to do so, they celebrate the effects of separate development, and the inherent contradictions of the rainbow nation.
White teachers tend to judge black teachers in township schools by a low pass rate and poor results that pupils produce, even though these are caused by socio-economic factors.
Is white supremacy not willing to acknowledge and associate itself with the inefficiencies within most township schools that it had a significant part in creating?
The process of “othering” still exists. White schools are associated with success, and black schools are a symbol of failure. Distributing tablets, laptops and fancy “smartboards” to township and rural schools will not change this.
The contradictions of the foundations of our democracy must be exposed. It seems like the only people who experience the benefits of racial integration are those in affluent areas. We see the so-called rainbow nation between white and black neighbours in places like Sandton, but we are still to see white teachers in black townships.
Having white teachers in township schools does not mean that black teachers are not good enough. It would mean that this is a real rainbow nation.
In tertiary institutions, we should be expecting a system where students who are studying education will be exposed to all quintiles: schools in rural areas, schools in the townships, and to former Model-C schools – in order to gain an authentic teaching experience.
Nelson Mandela reminded us: “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation.”
* Bhekithemba Mbatha holds a degree in international relations from Wits, and is studying law. He writes as a concerned South African.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.