When I attended high school a long, long time ago, Cape Town’s South Peninsula and Livingstone High were two of the best schools in the country – both in terms of the standard of education they delivered and the political awareness they instilled in their charges.
I was at SP, located in what became the whites-only suburb of Diep River, and I thrived – not only academically, but also in the arenas of political awareness and sport.
That I, and scores of others, benefitted so profusely was due to a corps of teachers who gave of themselves so generously to pupils, to our community and, ultimately, to those fighting with such passion and wisdom for freedom in the country.
Let me mention just a few names: Daphne Wessels, Wally King, Reggie Lesch (who was forced to leave the country on an exit visa), Fred Coker and Richard Rive.
Even those of us who were at SP had deep respect for the academic achievements of Livingstone – and great, especially, admiration for their take-no-shit attitude towards apartheid.
And the person held in the greatest esteem in households across the province was Livingstone’s principal, Richard Dudley.
When apartheid was defeated a large number of people thought that Livingstone and SP would play major roles in building a new, infinitely better, South Africa.
They were wrong.
We were all wrong.
Just recently, one of the people who has watched the development – but, more especially – the regression in standards in former coloured schools, had this to say….
‘Livingstone and South Peninsula are the only schools in the Western Cape who can still be regarded as schools of excellence.
‘They are, however, hanging on to this status of excellence by the skin of their teeth.
He suggested that the DA-led Western Cape Education Department is ‘hell bent’ on destroying all vestiges and traces of excellence at SP and ‘Stones ( Livingstone ).
And he added: ‘Simultaneously, they are zealously guarding and upholding high standards at their own (settler) schools.
He said the absence of the Teacher’s League of SA to maintain standards has left the Western Cape Education Department without any opposition, but with a license to destroy and kill the education of the oppressed.
He described current opposition to the WCED as ‘theoretically inept’ and ‘unable to offer any serious threat.
‘They are unable to appreciate the level of decline that the WCED manages to engineer at both Stones and SP.
‘This decline is clearly illustrated in the drastic reduction of the number of learners taking pure mathematics, (and the introduction of Maths Lit).
He described this development that ‘embedded’ principals encourage in their quest for better Matric results.
* I have a number of Facebook friends with teaching backgrounds. What is your opinion?
Gary van Dyk, Shariefa Jacobs and 2 others