It did not look good earlier in the month when it was discovered that a large amount of textbooks were being destroyed at a former teacher’s college outside Polokwane. It was the kind of gesture that did not inspire confidence in government's education policies. As my comedian friend Simmi Areff (@simmiareff) said on Twitter, "Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga is obviously a huge fan of Pink Floyd's 'We don't need no education.'"
This is clearly unacceptable, as leading experts on what is acceptable and what isn't, the DA, have pointed out as loudly as possible. Especially since it has also been alleged that the delivery of textbooks to Limpopo kids has been delayed by six months. If Santa Claus can deliver toys to every single child in the world (even the non-Christian children who must be fairly confused as to why they are receiving random presents) then what's stopping similar achievements with textbooks in just one province of South Africa? That said, Limpopo doesn't strike me as a place where every child receives toys come Christmas time, so perhaps it gets skipped over by Santa just like it gets skipped over by government. Besides, as Kagiso Lediga (the last comedian I will quote in this piece, I promise) has pointed out onstage, if Santa ever did end up in Limpopo he'd probably be burned as a witch.
But there is another side to the story, which is that textbooks in Limpopo may be too little, too late. What's the point in providing textbooks to the children of a province without a functioning Education System? It may give the youth of Limpopo false hope. Rather, it could be argued that it's better to be practical and provide Limpopo's inhabitants with things they can use. For example, a teenager from Limpopo is far more likely to get married than learn to read, so why all this uproar about the Education Department shredding books and turning them into confetti?
Give a child from Limpopo a textbook and next thing that child will develop a sense of entitlement and demand that an actual teacher shows up and explains its contents. And, with the help of textbooks, these young people may even become literate, in which case they could end up reading the Constitution. Next thing they'll develop crazy ideas about how they have a right to be educated and then they'll demand more textbooks. It's a vicious cycle.
The last thing we want is for these newly-educated young upstarts to develop opinions and become ambitious. They may even want to start getting involved in what's happening on a national level. Experience has taught us that it does not end well when people from Limpopo become politically active. It's just a matter of time before they start ranting on about how Botswana needs a regime change.
The saddest part about all this is that no-one has stopped to ask the children of Limpopo what they think. I bet if you asked them about their concerns, and if they were able to answer in full sentences, you would hear a variety of interesting opinions and ideas. And no-one has considered the fact that these children may not even want textbooks. When I was a schoolchild, I would have wanted nothing more than for the Education Department to shred all of mine. Unlike other provinces, where unpleasant things like education are forced onto the populace, maybe Limpopo is just bravely giving its youth what they want. Perhaps it’s just trying to make Limpopo a fun place where school is optional and there is no bedtime – a place where, like in Peter Pan's Never Never Land – no-one is forced to grow up.
So stop expecting the youth of Limpopo to do fancy things like learn how to read and write. As long as they have sufficient penmanship to be able to draw an X, they will be able to place that X next to a picture of the ANC logo come voting day. And if they keep doing that, what possible motivation would government have to encourage them to think? DM
One of the biggest problems facing our youth, apart from the whole no education thing, is drug abuse. It therefore comes as sad news that mayor of Cape Town, Patricia De Lille, has written a rap song to raise awareness about the issue. Prior to hearing her song I had never tried heroin, tik or crack. But, as a direct result of hearing Patricia De Lille rap, as soon as I file this column I am off to Hillbrow, where I intend to purchase as much heroin, tik and crack as possible. Only by getting obscenely high on dangerous, addictive narcotics will I ever be able to forget the horror and trauma of hearing Patricia De Lille rap. In writing this I hope to raise awareness about how bad this song is so that it doesn't destroy any more lives. 'Just Say No' to Patricia De Lille ever rapping again. If you need a reason to take drugs, you can watch the video here.
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