Matthew Lester: Save our teachers. F$@k the cruising Abil executive

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Matthew Lester: Save our teachers. F$@k the cruising Abil executive
Matthew Lester: Save our teachers. F$@k the cruising Abil executive

I quote from Prof Lawrence Wright lecture at Rhodes University 16 November, 2011. (Yes, that’s now nearly 4 years ago!)

Dr Jusuf Sayed recently told us that some 160 education document policy documents were issued between 1994 and 2007. The teachers themselves were all but ignored, treated as mere ‘human resources’ necessary to mediate the new curriculum. They were trained in curriculum jargon and classroom management, but not educated as human beings. The tragic result is that the quality of education available to the majority of our children is now worse that it was under apartheid. Successful teaching is an instant of pronesis, a humane art practiced by human beings for human beings, not the mechanical implementation of policy documents. The values, knowledge, skills and attitudes must first be alive in the teacher, incarnated in her. Then the magic happens. And it is magic, skilled magic, not the dreary acting out of some intellectual notion.”

Not much has changed in the last 4 years. The teachers of South Africa remain neglected.

Apparently African Bank had ( or should I say ‘has’) 3,2 million customers. I bet that a substantial number are teachers, nurses, policemen and other civil servants. The reaction of former chief risk officer of African bank is ‘F%$k them.’ He’s off on a cruise. I hope it’s a very long one.

Both my parents were teachers and they really struggled with their finances. Perhaps it’s a good thing that credit was not easily accessible in those days.

But who are the 3,2 million African Bank customers. Are they the poor? No! They are the lower income earners, they have a job, they are bankable, but most retail banks could not be bothered to service their needs. Many are teachers and civil servants who will be caught up in the uncertainty that will inevitably follow. The magic that is teaching cannot happen on these circumstances.

Teachers and other civil servants generally have simple needs. They would like to own a basic house and car. They need basic technology to do their jobs properly. And they would appreciate the opportunity of their children studying beyond matric, None of these can be achieved without financial assistance.

When I enrolled as a first year at Rhodes University in 1980 the student loan was a mere formality and the rest was provided by an accounting firm in Johannesburg. Dad provided the beers. Today I would stand no chance.

So today the teacher cannot see the future. A home loan is not available for a host if trumped up reasons. Some teachers say they only remain in the game to collect the government pension but they have no idea what that will be. They have to reply on rickety technology at the schools or hock themselves to death to provide their own. And their kids face an uncertain future. Despite education swallowing 20 percent of the national budget it is impossible to create any hope for the teacher.

We need a basic financial package for any teacher that makes sense.

  • Housing loans should be guaranteed for any teacher with a 5-year track record.
  • You cannot tell me that a basic car cannot be financed on a teachers package.
  • Stuff the government pension fund. Teachers should be on their own retirement annuity funds so they have some degree of certainty that one day they will retire.
  • All teachers should be armed with laptops/tablets/data bundles etc at no cost to themselves.
  • There should be a guaranteed low – interest student loan scheme for qualifying children of teachers. Yes, parents should have to stand surety.

If we don’t do something and African Bank finally collapses the need for credit is not going to simply evaporate. No, the microloan industry just loves the teacher customer. After all, they have a payslip and bank account and are easily traceable. Above all they have pride and wont default if advised properly. If they default recovery is as simple as a garnishee order.

And where does that leave the teacher in the long term? Or worse, where does that leave our children?