Why education?


By Arminda da Silva

An enormous load of tasks, classes, tests, knowledge and effort. What for?

As a first year B.Ed student, I often ask myself the question “What for?”. Why am I actually doing this? Especially as a first year B.Ed student majoring in economics, I can definitively ask “Why?”, when I look at the current state of South Africa’s economy and understand why it causes absolute anxiety in every South African .

The unemployment rate in South Africa already stands at a frightening figure of 32.1%. With a growing rate of teachers – new and old – who really struggle to find work at schools. Even as a student, one struggles to find work.

I currently live in a very small town. So small that one can drive from one end of the town to the other in an average of two minutes. This town does not have a variety of schools, but I have at least found one that will be able to accommodate me for my practicals in the second semester.

Unfortunately they cannot offer me a job and there is a lot of talk among the townspeople – you know how people can talk in small towns – that the school may close due to incompetent teachers, a shortage of teachers and resources and a restrictive budget to hire the necessary staff and acquire the necessary resources.

This makes me incredibly worried about my first practical and makes me even more worried about my future in education in South Africa.

There are more and more schools struggling with the same problems. The government does not have the necessary capital to fund schools as needed. Teacher salaries are terrifying compared to what teachers in South Africa have to deal with every day. Problems with colleagues, parents and learners who behave and speak unwisely. There is a much-needed need for respect towards teachers. One does not realize what they sacrifice every day. But there is also a need for passion.

There is the answer to my “What for?”.

It’s the passion in me to make a difference and be the hope for a child in South Africa who has an indescribable need and need for it – whether they show it or not. This is my driving force. This is my “why?”.

Despite what one hears on the news, reads in newspapers or chats at tea time. Despite the problems, obstacles, uncertainty and anxiety. Despite past recriminations and debates about the Bela Act. I want to be a teacher.

God gives us all a passion and a purpose. It’s something that one cannot describe. It’s something one shouldn’t question. But He knows my heart and He knows our circumstances and the situation in which our country finds itself.

There is a famous English proverb that says “Those who can’t do, teach“. It’s absolute nonsense. That’s exactly what teachers do. And what do they do? They use their God-given gift to lead the children of today to greater heights, to be what they would never dream of being.

Teachers shape South Africa’s barefoot children into the professional, thoughtful individuals they must grow up to be. As long as there are young people to shape, there is a future for South Africa’s onnies.

  • Arminda da Silva is a first year B.Ed student at the University of Potchefstroom.

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