Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Our Situation

Questions of becoming have lingered on my mind for a long period of time. As a young South African, these questions have prompted me to look at what is happening around me; locally and internationally. ‘What is our situation as black South Africans?’ I have continually asked myself.

In South Africa we have inherited a rich and diverse history. Part of this history is intertwined with issues of colonial conquest and an oppression of the black people. The current political setups, spearheaded by the ANC-led government, are engaged in attempts at redressing the many imbalances of the past, and ultimately bring about transformation. A daunting task if you ask me! This envisioned transformation is expressed differently, depending on political affiliation or conviction. There are those who have gone to great lengths to expand on this notion of transformation, how it ought to be brought about, how it lacks, how it can be fast-tracked, etc. All do agree however, that transformation is needed.

Looking at transformation at the individual level, I am of the opinion that the best place for it to be effected is the mind. Our minds need to be transformed. This transformation is a step in the right direction as we forge an all-inclusive South African identity, as we shape a collective future for all South Africans; both black and white. In forging this identity and common future we need to liberate ourselves of the past. This liberation is an intricate process. For any previously oppressed group of people to be liberated they need to be at the forefront of their liberation; they need to navigate carefully in both the political and socio-economic environments. This then further compels us as young black South Africans to stand up for ourselves, to become active within the systems that are put in place to bring about transformation.

Moreover, as a young person committed to positive change in the country, I believe that through reflection we are able to take the necessary steps towards the transformation of our minds. Our socialization, and the environment in which that socialization takes place, have an impact on this transformation. One of the most important elements of this socialization in post-apartheid South Africa is the education system’s quality deliveries of skills that help young people navigate the socio-political landscape. Based on the assumption that delivering quality education to society has positive returns in the long run it then follows that thinking deeply upon our situation as young South Africans is key.

Having touched on the transformation of the mind and the link it has with education, it is necessary to stress synergy of the various education departments, society and other relevant stakeholders in ensuring a quality education. Overcoming the various challenges within our education system so that it ultimately contributes towards the transformation of the mind should be stressed beyond being solely the government’s responsibility. Societies need to seek means that will help transform them; and where these means do not exist society should help create them. This can be done through social movements or social clubs. The private sector should play a more meaningful role in ensuring a quality education. After all, it is also a beneficiary of the schooling system.

One possible avenue where the private sector, working with communities, could champion a cause in this regard is that of reading clubs. I have been part of reading clubs for children aged 4-10 years old. These reading clubs are a fun and learning environment outside conventional school. They bring parents, teachers, the young and the old a chance to come together to read, write, sing, play and dance together. They further allow children a chance to grasp the use of an additional language outside the school environment. The Annual National Assessment (ANA) results of 2012 show moderate progress when compared with the previous year. This should encourage us further in continuing with initiatives such as this one. One thing about reading clubs is that it only takes one adult, 3-5 young children, and a great story book to get you going! The boost in confidence on the part of the children that attend is plain to see; their spelling has improved and so has their behavior- I dare not leave out the countless smiles they have put on my face. The seeds of the love for reading and writing sown in these children will serve to liberate our minds and  strengthen our democracy. Ironically in South Africa, there is a general level of apathy towards the democratic process as a result of service delivery issues amongst others.

So then, what does this mean for us as young people? The most important consideration is the emphasis on education. Considering that higher education remains highly inaccessible to the majority of black people we need to find various means to get our societies educated and skilled. Without these there is not much we can do to change the status quo and contribute to society at large. We need to inspire young people to take an active role in the advancement of liberation.