Yes, you’re all very clever. Clap, clap, clap. Well done, girls and boys. Look at you, all sparkly-eyed and smiling fit to burst, flashing your flawless teeth and carefree faces, reminding the rest of us of our disastrous life choices that go all the way back to matric and continue to this day.
Like everything else in this great country, there are two streams of education. Three if you count the one that takes a sharp left mid-stream and trickles away into the deserts of indifference.
Much like employment, education in South Africa has a private and public sector. It’s one of the benefits of not being a communist state like, say, Finland. However, this doesn’t explain why Finland was ranked top in last year’s world happiness report. They probably bribed someone.
Your decision to work for the state or for a private company will be based on many things, but mostly on whether or not you were dropped on your head as a child.
Your attending a private or government school, on the other hand, is not your decision. It’s up to your parents. If it were left to me, you selfish ingrates would be down the coal mines the moment you could wield a shovel. Education is wasted on the young.
My parents couldn’t afford to send me to a private school. Do I blame them for that? Of course I do. If they really cared, they would have found a way to get the finances. My father even had a gun. It was a Walther PPK. Instead of pressing it into my sweaty paw at the Blue Lagoon mangroves and teaching me how to shoot beer cans, he could have used it to rob a bank to pay for a decent education for his only son.
Raising me to be honest, coupled with 12 years in a government school, consigned me to a life of poverty. I didn’t stand a chance. Poverty in a relative sense, I mean. Being white, I was never going to live in a shack and drink skokiaan for breakfast. Of course, there’s still time.
Having said that, it’s obvious there is no correlation between wealth and intelligence. Private schools have produced their share of gibbering idiots and the public school system has produced some incredibly bright people. I’m thinking of myself, here, but there must have been others. Oh, here’s one. Elon Musk went to Bryanston High School but was so badly bullied that he fled to Pretoria Boys High.
We all know that narcotics are freely available in government schools. Sadly, I was never offered the good stuff that would make me dream of building spaceships and self-driving cars and holiday resorts on Mars. I only had the stuff that gave me a dry mouth and an inexplicable tendency to laugh at nothing.
Anyway, back to the recent flood on social media of fathers with expressions that say nothing so much as, “How the hell did I produce this genius?” Ja, boet. These are the days of miracles and wonder.
But we expect the privileged to do well. If you matriculate from a private school with nine distinctions and end up working for the department of transport, something has gone terribly wrong. Unless, of course, you feel that serving the public is more important than money ha ha. But there are some very smart people who do join the civil service and become extremely wealthy. In the end, some will go to jail, others won’t get caught. It’s apparently a gamble worth taking.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has spent the last few days spinning faster than an orb spider in mating season. I won’t repeat all the figures she’s been shouting out like a coke-addled bingo caller because, if you went to a government school, you’ll also find numbers triggering. Especially when they are distorted by smoke and mirrors.
It’s what she isn’t saying that I find interesting. Okay, interesting might be a stretch. While gushing about all the successes, she makes no mention of the thousands who dropped out before reaching matric. It’s not right. You have to count them as failures. It’s the least they deserve.
Most of the kids who wrote the NSC exam are just happy that they got out with all their organs intact. Those who wrote the IEB exam are a different story. Take Tanner Bailey, Hilton College’s top matriculant. He got eight distinctions and has applied to Harvard, Brown, Princeton and Columbia universities. When I finished school, I applied for a Clicks card.
While waiting to hear from the Ivy League, Tanner plans to dabble in a business degree at UCT. I guess that’s his idea of a gap year.
Now that we’ve heard from the “best of the best”, it’s only fair that we hear what the “worst of the worst” have to say. Then again, they’ll be appearing at an intersection near you any day now. Buy one of their inflatable dolphins and ask them what they think of the education system.