So, the question that needs to be asked "What is the purpose of education?"
I've always thought that it was to prepare a person for the rest of their life after school. It is meant to be a microcosm of real life. Challenges are placed in your path (exams) that need to be passed in order to continue on to the next phase of your life.
Education is not to teach you everything so that you know it all when you get out of school, but rather to teach you how to learn. It should be there to put a good grounding of basic knowledge that will be the basis for future learning. Getting the neural pathways ready early in life to accept more information as they get older.
However, it appears that the current government has some different ideas. The education system at the moment is not there to teach our young people how to learn, or even to teach them anything at all. Of course, that works well to the ruling party, as illiterate and uninformed people are the basis for their power base.
The idea that the pass rate is a measure of the success of your education system is ludicrous. Especially when the pass rate is 35%!!!!!
There are several things which need to happen, and quickly
a) Get this idea of ENTITLEMENT out of peoples heads. You are entitled to breath - that's it. If you want anything in life, you need to work for it. Our education system could make a huge difference in the lives of many people simply by instilling a sense of duty and work ethics into our youngsters.
b) Education must be challenging. The passing grade needs to move back to 50%. In order to get university entrance - 80% (College - 70%). Children should be encouraged to COMPETE to get to the top of the class. They should be encouraged to face the challenges of the curriculum and beat it. Just like in real life.
c) Stop letting unqualified students move to the next level. Keep them back. Let them repeat the year. Let them face the stigma of being "stupid and lazy" - Let PEER Pressure do the work of changing the way students think.
d) Teach the basics well. Math, Language, Reading Comprehension, Accounting, Computer literacy and very important, environmental awareness (Recycling, conservation, etc). Then even if the student is not rocket scientist material, they can at least take care of their own budgets, and still make a very meaningful contribution to society.
e) Create an education environment where each and every student capable of learning, will strive to be the best that they can be, and become a valued part of the community, either locally, regionally, nationally, or even world wide.
f) Finally, stop acting like a passing rate is the be all and end all. It would be better to have a graduating class of only 100,000 students per year all in the 80%+ bracket. Each and every one of them able, capable and DESIRING to become the next great thing. Willing to work hard for it and able to devote their time to really bettering their lives, and as a result, the lives of those around them.
Education is key to the welfare of any country and society. Lack of proper education leads to the mess we have now with high unemployment, crime and stupidity in leadership. Educated people think. Educated people try to fix things. Thinking and fixing creates jobs. Jobs create a healthier environment where crime goes down.
If we had two decades of highly motivated, qualified and capable graduates, without the sense of entitlement, but with the ethics of hard working, decent people - we would not have this government running roughshod over everyone in this country. The 2 to 3 million highly educated graduates would have put them in their place - and quickly. in fact, they would have been the up and coming leaders.
If we had two decades of the same students, willing to work hard for their place in society, we would not have the chronic shortness of qualified people. We would not be sitting with BBEEE issues - it would have been been rendered null and void! Our industries would be much better equipped to compete on the world markets. And labour issues would be greatly reduced.
Instead we have a tiny minority of hard working students (and well done to all of those who have achieved distinctions) who, as much as they will try to change the world, are just to small a group to make a difference against the tsunami of ignorance that has graduated along with them.
Yes, they will do well. But they will have to work hard to climb over the obstacles placed in their way by the uneducated (but graduated) masses.
There are a lot of other things that need to change in order to fix this country, but EDUCATION is the KEY to ALL of that change!