Open letter to the premier

Dear premier

Firstly, I appreciate the level of reputational integrity you have brought to our once-troubled province. Because of your leadership acumen, our province is no longer trapped in the doldrums of bankruptcy. Even people from other provinces no longer call our province “Zimpopo”.

Premier, there is a highly substantive issue I wish to communicate to your attention. In the last five years, I have been analysing “the empirical state of education” in the province. The crux of my analysis was centred on two critical questions: “does the province’s education methodology contribute to community enlightenment? Does our education system promote a culture of reading in our communities?”

The province’s “literary productive output” has impressively increased in the last five years. Major educational and logistical improvements have occurred within our schools. The concept of “learning and teaching” has become entrenched within most of our schools. The province’s current matric pass rate bears evidence to that effect. Our matric pass rate improved from 48,9% in 2009 to 72,9% in 2014.

But quantitative improvement is not always accompanied by qualitative excellence. Our school system is not able to engender an inclusive philosophy of enlightenment in society. I have noted that our education system is not founded on “inclusive pedagogic ideology”. An inclusive pedagogic ideology reckons that “schools must contribute to community enlightenment”. Unfortunately, the modus operandi of our school system is not community-oriented.

Our schools are unable to spread and entrench the philosophy of education in our communities. Our primary and high schools are only empowering learners and students. Our schools have neglected the educational needs of non-schooling citizens. That pedagogic approach is inherently flawed and systematically deficient.

A school is an institutional purveyor of knowledge, science and acumen. Schools should also educate and enlighten non-schooling citizens. Unfortunately, most of our schools are not contributing to community enlightenment. The province’s school system is designed in a way that does not enlighten our broader society. Our schools are not responsive to the academic inadequacies in our communities. Our schools are not promoting a culture of reading in our communities. It is estimated that only 14% of South Africans are regular book readers. About 11,6% of Limpopo residents are regular readers of books. Research studies also show that only 5% of parents read books to their children. It is also estimated that 1% of South Africans regularly buy books.

Why are most citizens not passionate about reading? Why are most South Africans not actually interested in reading books? Our school system is not promoting a culture of reading in our communities. Most learners come from family structures that are not passionate about reading. That has an extremely disastrous impact on our education system. It is a school’s responsibility to cultivate a culture of reading among all citizens. Our schools must motivate and encourage parents to read books to their children. Children are intellectually inspired by family members who read books regularly.

Premier, I appeal to your office to initiate a programme that is aimed at promoting a culture of reading in Limpopo. Let us establish “reading academies” in villages and townships. Citizens must be inspired to believe in the value of intellectual greatness. All best-performing learners are from families that are passionate about reading.

All citizens must be inspired to believe in the greatness of reading. Civil servants must be encouraged to buy and read at least two books a month.

Premier, may you urge your MECs to buy and read at least three books every month. The province’s literacy rate is above 80%. But less than 12% of Limpopo residents are regular readers of books. In actual fact, we were supposed to be a province of readers. Unfortunately, we are not a province of readers.

Reading plays a critical role in expanding the vocabulary and acumen of a person. People who regularly read books are more likely to become great analytical thinkers.

Thank you Premier.

Elvis Masoga

Political analyst and Limpopo resident

  AUTHOR
Elvis Masoga

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