UHPPTA ANNUAL DINNER KEYNOTE ADDRESS 2016

 

WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PART OF THE SOLUTION

WHAT IS WRONG?

  • At a spiritual level, I believe there is daily fight good and evil. That fight we need Godly interventions.
  • At a practical level, we are contending with a global economic system that fails to distribute the wealth fairly. The capitalist system fails to allocate scarce resources efficiently. This economic system makes the very rich richer and the poor poorer. Goldman Sachs Investment Company suggests so in their 2016 Report. GS was described by the Rolling Stone magazine as “a vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”. GS could still be seen as the poster child of capitalism.
  • GSR: large companies consolidate their power through mergers and acquisitions; they pass on costs to consumers and constantly chip away at employee numbers. They say there is drop in consumer demand (sluggish consumer demand), yet the profits of companies in the USA have increased from 5% of GDP in 2008 and 10% of GDP in 2014. Labour’s share of the US economic pie has dropped from 58% in 1970 to 53% in 2014. (Ann Crotty, Business Times, 7 Feb 2016,p. 6)
  • Oxfam SA: Financial inequality in SA is worse than before. Between 1993 and 2011, the income of the richest 10% of the SA population has grown by 64%, while the 50% poorest people had no increase in income.  The richest 1% of the world population is richer that the rest of the world put together. The use of off-shore tax evasion locations by these companies robs governments of millions of rands.
  • Prof RokAjulu, guest lecturer in NMMU Faculty of Arts: Ethnicity is being continuously politicised in Africa and SA. Racism remains a big problem. Ethnic groups organise themselves into economic classes who try to capture state resources and close democratic spaces to protect their very narrow class interests. This leads to wide-spread corruption and violence. UHS has always been a fierce proponent of non-racialism.
  • We (Africa, including South Africa) do not produce the skills, ideas and innovations to manufactureour own goods and services. Our economies are too much based on exporting our raw materials and minerals. So education is a problem. We need not only university graduates, but also graduates from Training and Vocational Education Colleges.  There has always been a focus on the development of diverse skills at UHS.
  • Prof MammoMuchi, DST/NRF Chair for Innovation and Development at Tshwane University, SAFM 9 May 2016: We must get rid of colonial education and teach Africa’s true history – its real contribution to global knowledge – re-imagine Africa as an innovator. In other words, we have lost our humanity, self-confidence, self-worth and self-respect to contribute to global knowledge and innovations, because we perpetuate what the colonists thought about us.
  • Dr SiphamandlaZondi, Director of the Africa and Southern Africa Institute for Global Dialogue (SAFM, 7 May 2015): SA is a broken people and broken people cannot do great things. Broken people need healing. People are hurt and this breaks out violently. This is why learners fall into drug abuse; adults rape women and babies; and parents kill their children. Education, churches and community organisations must restore this brokenness.Restoring and protecting the dignity and people have always been a focus of UHS.
  • So, dominated by an immoral, profit-seeking-at-all-cost economic system; and buying into this system- people become immoral, lose their humanity, self-confidence, self-worth and self-respect. People become despondent.
  • Corruption abounds and our education is badly managed.
  • We have two choices: becoming part of the system or fight the system.
  • Becoming part of the system is not a choice. The richer becoming richer at the expense of the poor is not sustainable.
  • So, we should gradually and continuously try to break down this system and replace it with a fair and equitable system.

BY DOING WHAT? WHAT DO WE DO?

I believe UHS has always had the recipe.

  • UHS has always been proactive and has always taken the lead in reading political threats to communities. When the Apartheid Government underspent on so-called Coloured and Black schools hoping to keep them in subservience, our teachers taught at a high level and made sure that the dignity of our learners would not be trampled on.  When so-called African learners were disallowed at so-called Coloured schools, UHS was one of the first schools to disregard this Apartheid regulation. When the Apartheid Government wanted to divide the oppressed by the implementation of the Tri-cameral System, UHS was vociferousin standing up against this Apartheid creation. I would like to encourage UHS leadership and teachers to persist with this noble characteristic of the school. We UHS’ers in the community must support the teachers and the school to stand up against onslaughts on school, teachers and learners. I know that we are all busy and fighting our own battles, but let us try in small ways to lend support to UHPPTA and the school.
  • Let us go back to basics. Let us do the small things right.
  • Demand excellence: Teachers, let us work hard. Let’s demand the highest standards from our teachers and learners. Don’t wait for Education Department. Don’t wait for busy (and often despondent) parents. Marks of less than 60% have always been unacceptable at UHS.  Afternoon classes and healthy competition have always been encouraged at school.  Parents, let us respect the teachers and the school as an educational institution.

Can I, however. ask permission to put a little bit of pressure on my fellow teachers? It is only through our commitment that we will attract the support of parents.We cannot expect parents to assist us with doing our work if we are not committed to do our work to the best of our ability.  When Farouk Wicomb, Elroy Bosman, Lawrence and PJ Radcliffe and Kenny Joseph coached Die Bye, parents were attracted to the rugby games and physically support and coached the teams (Irvin Basson, the Philanders, Mr Forbes, Gardens old men???).  When Georgie Grimsel and the Surties’ coached the soccer teams, parents such as Gavin van Aardt and others became involved. The commitment of Johnny Allison, Joe Slingers, Mac Redcliffe and Judy Gardner in organising the dramas attracted the support of the Parsons.  Even business people supported these events more readily.

  • Focus on the holistic development of learners. That is, developing their minds, bodies and souls. To achieve this, we need teachers with higher consciousness, in other words, teachers with higher levels of spirituality, integrity and ethics. I know teachers face huge obstacles and a lack of support from the DHET, but giving in to these challenges is tantamount to throwing our communities into the depressive pool of unemployment and poverty. As teachers and parents, we have no choice but to take responsibility to do the best where we are – in whatever small way.  So teachers and parents should arm themselves through reading, spiritual upliftment and healthy physical and mental living.Bring back sport. Unfortunately teachers, this is our responsibility.
  • With reference to the need for skills, ideas and innovation for manufacturing in SA, we need develop all skills (woodwork, homework, needlework, typing). Factory, motor mechanics and engineering careers were never frowned upon at UHS. I am aware that there was an outflow of experienced teachers at UHS over the recent years. This could however be turned into an opportunity for young teachers to unleash their creativeness an innovativeness on our curriculums. Entrepreneurship might have been neglected in our days, but today in schools it is hugely promoted.  Entrepreneurship should however be promoted with a mindset of contributing to society’s development rather than individualistic profit-seeking at all cost.
  • Mathematics remains an important stumbling block to many careers in science, engineering, medicine and Accounting. UHS has always been a top performing school in Maths and I know the school will persist in this regard. I want to encourage the school to encourage leaners in conquering their fear for Maths, whether it is pure Maths or Maths Literacy.  I welcome maths literacy only when pupil, parent and teacher are 100% sure that pupil will not follow a career in which maths is necessary.

That said, but all subjects/ disciplines are important in building healthy and balanced human beings.  We however fail to teach leaners how these subjects/ disciplines contribute to the well-being of communities.

  • Teach self-respect and self-discipline. We teach self-respect to learners by the way we show respect in the way we approach our profession, do our work and behave ourselves. We must lead by example.  Self-discipline can be taught. It was taught then and should still be taught today.  Learners should be taught to have a study roster; how to study using you time correctly; making time for play, etc.
  • The choice between wrong and right. Relationships between teachers and pupils were wrong then and are still wrong today.  Teachers frequenting bars, pubs and shebeens with learners were wrong then, and is still wrong today.
  • Leadership should be developed in learners by exposing them to as many leadership opportunities as possible. Leadership should be recognised, supported and rewarded in both leaners and staff.
  • Finally, let us drop our defeatist attitude – the attitude that the problems are just too overwhelming – “I am giving up”. I know times have changed, challenges appear to be insurmountable (no support, no resources), but the basics of hard-work, integrity, honesty, commitment, professionalism, caring have not changed and can change these challenges.

Just give small steps in the right direction, with determination, positivity, and trying to do our best in all our endeavours. Keep the balance – school should both fun and hard work. By doing so, we will honour the legacy of UHS; build our communities; and build our nation. Wherever they are, UHS’ers who excel, make significant contributions, because at UHS we develop well-rounded individuals; if we make our learners politically and economically aware and teach them ethics and morality in all sincerity, not just as a subject (Life Orientation), we create holistic individuals who contribute to the restoration of people’s humanity and self-worth. Let us do the basics right; let us live for our children.  And, let us try to commit to this call.

MANY THANKS

Cecil Arnolds