07 March 2013


Education, Part 8


The writing of this Communist University course on Education has been planned for years. It has been in active preparation for more than a year. But it is being written as it is published, week by week.

So far, we have managed to tackle the main theoretical load that the course must carry and continue to carry in its annual re-presentations on the four CU channels.

We have looked at theories of mass public education such as N F S Grundtvig’s “Schools for Life” idea that survives in the form of the Danish folk-high-school movement; Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”; and the Cuban “Universalisation of the University”. We have seen, through Lenin’s eyes, that all education is political. We have seen how the political conflict plays out in the realm of conventional theories of formal education, and through Jean Lave’s eyes, we have seen the relevance of Marx’s Third Thesis on Feuerbach, among others. We have understood, through Mike Cole’s, Andy Blunden’s and Lev Vygotsky’s eyes, that the separation of schooling from life is a mistake, and that the development of people is one historic and revolutionary process.

As with previous Communist University courses, the last parts of the course on Education have been reserved for the more current “problematic” facing South Africa, in the light of the theoretical review that is comprised in the earlier parts. And now, but not for the first time in the CU courses, we find that life has conspired, on cue, to dramatise the matters under review, and that a real-life crisis presents itself at the same moment as we arrive at consideration of the potential for conflict.

This week - on the 5th of March 2013 to be precise - the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) called for Minister of Education Motshekga’s resignation, and announced its intention “to mobilize all our members for an indefinite strike as a response to the assault on collective bargaining, our basic right as workers and to promote quality public education.”

Tomorrow, on International Women’s Day (8th March 2013), at a special event in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni, SADTU will launch its Campaign for Quality Public Education.

Thus, in the same week that the CU Education course was already planned to look at the South African educational conjuncture, we have a confrontation between the education workers and the political Minister.

We also have a potentially revolutionary move by the organised educators in SADTU to redefine education qualitatively, so that it can respond to South Africa’s historical need for popular development, as opposed to the narrow school curriculum dictated by the bourgeois imperialist hegemony that has still not released its long-term grip on South Africa’s educational system.

In the latter respects, SADTU’s intentions are in keeping with the ANC’s January 8th Statement of 2013 (attached), which in turn reflects the transactions of the 53rd ANC National Conference that took place the previous month, in Mangaung. The January 8th Statement calls for major, integrated, educational initiatives. It also declares the Decade of the Cadre, and declares 2013 to be the year of unity in action towards socio-economic freedom.

Among the initiatives mentioned in the ANC January 8th Statement are these:

  • Internal education of ANC members, politically, generally and academically
  • Literacy and general education of the community led by the ANC at local level
  • Assistance by ANC-led volunteers to the formal-education schools in the localities.
  • Expansion of access to education, including to Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges
  • Commitment to the development of indigenous languages and to their use in schools

If it was proceeding nicely, the ANC’s programme was going to grow into the kind of co-ordinated raising of political and general culture of the nation that we would want to see in the light of the first seven parts of this course on Education.

But instead, the Minister of Education has thrown a series of provocations in the path of the ANC’s own programme, and she appears to be getting support in this provocative, aggressive and destructive stance from the ANC Secretary-General, Cde Gwede Mantashe.

Mantashe has even, this week, gone to the extent of digging up a dead issue (“essential service”), as if in the hope that it may serve to provoke yet more trouble. He must be aware of the SACP’s positive and constructive intervention of a month earlier which said in no uncertain terms: Drop the Concept “Essential Service”!

The SACP’s statement comes out plainly in favour of education for liberation: People’s Education for People’s Power!

Now SADTU is taking up the banner of Quality Public Education and aspiring to leadership of a revolutionary kind in this field.

How did this reversal happen, so that while SADTU and the SACP are still on the line of march of the January 8th Statement, the ANC has taken another road, a road of provocation? Cde Mantashe appears to be claiming the position of Humpty-Dumpty in “Alice Through the Looking Glass”, arrogantly claiming to be master of the meaning of words, like this:

In keeping with the CU’s standard practice of presenting original documents, we will attach, and make available by download, the following documents:

  • ANC January 8th 2013 Statement
  • A Compilation of SACP, SADTU and ANC statements from February and March 2013

In the next item within this part of the course we plan to report on SADTU’s Campaign for Quality Public Education.


swiftclc said...

NICE BLOG!!! Education is the process of bringing desirable change into the behavior of human beings. It can also be defined as the “Process of imparting or acquiring knowledge or habits through instruction or study”. Thanks for sharing a nice information.

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