Category Archives: Personal Responsibility

Education for all? Stepping forward and paying it back

We all have an opinion about education. And we have all experienced the consequences of our education. Whether or not research confirms it, we know that the level of education one has access to often determines the opportunities available to them in life. Unless one is in a “first world” country, we know that for most people in “developing” countries access to education is still not guaranteed. Recently UNESCO released the Education for All Global Monitoring report showing that access to quality education is still a privilege for the few. The report may appear alarmist at first glance but it made me think seriously about education.

I will not belabour the statistics about the state of education as the general consensus seems to be that the poor majority in the world do not have access to education. The question is: do we let this continue and hope that there will be a small group of people who will step forward and become teachers, school reformers or researchers in the field of education?

The danger about writing about education is that when the numbers are dismal we often simply think of that—the numbers—rather than the faces of the people who represent those numbers. And the implications those numbers have for the future. Of course, education is not the panacea for the world’s problems but the world cannot change if education reform doesn’t happen on a large scale.

Around the same time the report was released I received a message from one of the Bokamoso contributors, Thoko, on Facebook: “I am currently a volunteer English teacher at a rural school in Mthatha. I teach a class of 105 grade 10 kids (in one classroom)”. I had a mixed reaction to the message. I responded in rage to his message but a part of me knew that his situation is the norm. And this is part of the challenge with education: it continues to remain unchanged.

People often ask me why I became a teacher. I was lucky enough to get the kind of education where if I wanted to, I could be whatever I wanted to be. I was exposed to knowledge and experiences which made me think that I could be what I wanted to be. In my idealism, I opted to be a teacher because I had hoped that I could be part of the experience of enabling children realise who they are and what they want to be. When I discovered that my education was not the norm, I began to wonder. And I continue to wonder every time I am in my classroom and teaching and learning are jeopardised by the outside world which places limitations upon my students. Whether it is in the form of a piece of paper or just knowledge buried away in our hearts, education is something that cannot be taken away from us, especially when one has had the best education possible. Sadly, for those who are not getting the best education, they will reap the limitations of the limited education they have received.

My hope for this theme is that we will be able to reflect on our educational experiences and how they have shaped who we are. There seems to be a dearth of good stories about education. There is no good report about education. What will our response be to this report?

Moreover, I hope we will ask ourselves questions about what our responsibility is to the world because of the education we have received. Those of us who write for this blog are the exception and not the rule: the norm is that people do not have enough access to quality education (and higher education is slipping away from people thanks to economic imbalances) but we have had that privilege. Are we going to maintain that privilege for the few? Or are we going to make the room for others the share the wealth we have because we can read and write and count and think critically about the world around us? Are we going to step forward and pay it back?

Generation Y, calibrating success in a post-recession economy: not so groovy

Generation Y, calibrating success in a post-recession economy: not so groovy

Tweet By: Danielle Bowler* The pilot episode of  popular television show, “Girls”, opens with the lead character, Hannah Horvath out to dinner with her parents, Tad and Loreen, and receiving the kind of news that any recently graduated twenty-something dreads: Tad:    Hannah, your mother and I have been talking, and we feel that it… Continue Reading

“Leaning In”- babies, careers and running the world

“Leaning In”- babies, careers and running the world

Tweet By: Nguhi Mwaura* The conversation around Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” (2013), has drawn much comment, but bear with me as I add my own to the pile. This conversation has hit a nerve precisely because it asks the million dollar question, can… Continue Reading

Taking Power, Changing Lives

Taking Power, Changing Lives

Tweet For the current Bokamoso blog theme, we have been discussing the idea of Changing the world without taking power.  Many of the articles we have published until now have been  theoretical and philosophical, and we have appreciated these thoughtful pieces and the productive dialogue they have created.  Included in these articles, however, I have… Continue Reading

Resisting working ourselves to the bone: for black girls who’ve considered politics when being strong isn’t enough

Resisting working ourselves to the bone: for black girls who’ve considered politics when being strong isn’t enough

Tweet By: Siphokazi Magadla* In the past few weeks I have been raving to several friends on email, whatsapp, BBM, facebook and even at random dinner conversations about Melissa Harris-Perry’s book “Sister Citizen: shame, stereotypes, and black women in America/for colored girls who’ve considered politics when being strong isn’t enough” (2011). In this ambitious project Harris-Perry… Continue Reading

“News Cameras never come”: A Tale of Two Worlds in South Africa and the Politics of Invisibility

Tweet By: Gcobani Qambela* In his memoir, “Decoded”, American rap icon Jay-Z explains the history behind his song “Where I’m From”. In the opening lines of the song he tells us “I’m from where the hammers rung, news cameras never came”, meaning he is from the lower echelon of society: the ghetto. He brings our… Continue Reading

Political and Economic Power are key to Transformation

Tweet By: Reuben Dlamini* The domination of an organized minority… over the unorganized majority is inevitable. The power of any minority is irresistible as against each single individual in the majority, who stands alone before the totality of the organized minority. At the same time, the minority is organized for the very reason that it… Continue Reading

Telling HERstory: Nomzamo Winfreda ‘Winnie’ Madikizela-Mandela and the politics of ‘celebration’

Tweet By: Gcobani Qambela*, Bose Maposa** and Nadia Ahmadou*** Writing on “Birthdays, Legacies, Love, Leadership: Letter to Nelson Mandela” Esther Armah in the Huffington Post takes us to Philadelphia in 1996 where Winnie Madikizela Mandela was the keynote speaker at the Million Woman March. Armah notes that some White American liberal women questioned the legitimacy… Continue Reading

Audacity of Peace: ‘Boko Haram’ and the Plight of a Nation

Tweet By: Steve Arowolo* I grew up in the North Central part of Nigeria, in an area that is predominantly populated by Muslims. This is because my father, an Anglican church elder had reason to live and work amidst people of different religious and ethnic orientation. Growing up was peaceful and I am filled with… Continue Reading

Sentenced to the good life: notes from Norway, lessons for South Africa?

Sentenced to the good life: notes from Norway, lessons for South Africa?

Tweet A few weeks ago, on the 23rd of August, 2012 I attended a South African government funded ‘Women’s Forum’ in the rural South African town of Lady Frere. The event was ‘Women only’ but I managed to gain entry by virtue of the fact that I went to listen to my sister who was… Continue Reading