Teaching in a land of inequity
By Dr Pete van Jaarsveld, LEAP teacher
With all its contradictions South Africa still limps toward economic prowess. If there is a single most condemning feature of its character it is its un-nurtured education system. Its pitiful performance in numeracy and literacy assessments by its own and international standards attest to its failure. Its current inability to produce school leavers ready to tackle and sustain the rigour of tertiary study aggravates its limp. The limp continues to diminish the desperately needed pool of knowledge, skills and values to drive its economic processes and to enhance its moral fabric.
And now, at the dawning of another political chapter, we wonder whether education will command the attention it deserves. We wonder whether education’s voice will be strong enough to emancipate the muteness of the young men and women in its ranks afflicted by poverty.
We cannot afford more lost generations.
Hope to the hopeless
From a landscape of educational despair emerges a story of hope; the story of LEAP, a school with a mission to uplift the poor and build people of character. And how is this achieved? LEAP orientates for life. And that may be the claim in the mission statement of any school, but it is more powerful when one is orientated for life in the context of poverty. In this context education refines and transforms, it gives hope to the hopeless. And it is this that makes LEAP different.
Our authentic voice
The ethos of the school is embedded in a life orientation programme that pervades all learning and encourages one to find one’s voice. The voice that reveals the indignity of poverty, the voice that uncovers the pain of abuse, the voice that speaks against injustice, the voice that criticises lovingly, the voice that cares compassionately.
To find one’s voice one needs relationship and it is relationship that pervades a LEAP education at all levels. It is ubuntu that we find in relationship; it is relationship that we find in ubuntu. Our authentic voice helps us to be kind. It helps us to be honest. It helps us admit mistakes, confront issues, talk about change for good. And it helps us to share.
We strive for academic excellence. We believe sustained knowledge is an asset to ourselves and our peers and a valuable national commodity. We strive to express our opinions and to talk about our learning in the language of instruction and our mother tongue. We value academic challenge because it sharpens our cognition.
We strive to assess frequently and guide accordingly. We encourage reflective teaching and reflective learning. We strive to be healthy through being sports conscious and participative. We seek to serve our communities through being socially responsible.
We teach the importance of humility and the ability to acknowledge fault. We learn that for us to show weakness means that we are strong.