By Pieter Jordaan
On the same day that Solidarity Youth’s school leaver report for 2023 is introduced to the media and interest groups, this headline appears in bold Image ‘s cover:
“A Disaster for Schools”.
It articulates the view of critics of the government’s Bela schools bill plans. Actually, this strong headline is still not strong enough. It could equally be described as a disaster for learners, teachers, parents, for Afrikaans and for Afrikaners.
Maybe even wider than that. The government’s grab for decision-making power over schools’ language and admissions policy may have Afrikaans or Afrikaners in its sights, but it will also be to the disadvantage of other population groups and native speakers.
This is a disaster for the wider South African society.
RNews reported earlier about the acceptance of the law amendment by the portfolio committee’s ANC and EFF elements with this quote: “Complaints about Bela law fall on deaf ears”.
The vast majority of comments submitted were opposed to the amendments to the law. But why will the government now listen to “ordinary people”?
I think it is soon better for our own health to accept the law amendment efforts for what they really are: sly politics by sly politicians in the run-up to the national election. They don’t give a damn about Afrikaners, but neither do they care about anyone else. Not even their own voters.
Our government only craves power.
Don’t think they care about children either. Above, I am specifically referring to the school leavers report, because this is exactly what Solidarity Youth’s report aimed at: to hear what the matrics of 2023 themselves have to say. In this way, their needs can be better understood, and educational institutions and other interest groups can try to meet them.
What do the children say then? Well, they say they are positive towards Afrikaans as a language of instruction. Moreover, that positivity has increased since Solidarity Youth’s previous report – this despite an increasingly fierce attack on Afrikaans in schools over this period.
The reason given by school leavers for the positivity is that Afrikaans is their home language, and that they will understand the study material better in their familiar home language.
So what the youth themselves want is presumably in stark contrast to what the government plans for them, should the Bela amendments become law.
After all, we have already learned to expect the worst (or the least) when it comes to this envious authority of us.
This is precisely why Solidarity takes the reins to create opportunities where the government wants to take them away.
The Solidarity Network Platform, which was unveiled in September, plays an uplifting support role for learners on their high school path.
High school children get free access to a wide range of supporting materials and services such as career selectors and general advice and assistance with subject choices and preparation for tertiary study.
The learning section on the platform is also of great value for young workers. More than 60 courses help employees to develop even further while working.
To gain access to this ongoing learning you must be a Solidarity member.
Together with the youth offer, as mentioned above, Solidarity tries to eventually develop members of the community to their full potential in the workplace with the help of courses – right from a young age.
This has a positive influence for everyone – from the employee to the employer, even for the Afrikaans community and, ultimately, for the wider South African society.
This is completely at odds with the government’s destructive policies and actions regarding our youth. At Solidarity, the goal is to give and to build, rather than to take and tear down.
It is thanks to this willingness to keep building, despite everything, that a flame of hope still burns. What can be described as a “disaster for schools” may just be a wake-up call for those of us who have not yet realized that DIY has now become the only way to do things.
Please also watch the video below how Dr. Dirk Hermann, managing director of Solidarity, talks to Izelle Palmer, manager of training at S-Leer. They discuss precisely the learning offer that enables high school youth and young workers to look beyond the obstacles, and to realize their potential.
- Pieter Jordaan is manager of news and publicity at Solidarity.