During 2002, the final building blocks of the new system for education and training were put place. The Pestalozzi Trust has completed initial assessments of the system as it is now being phased in. The system seems to rest primarily on the following:
a) At school level, one national curriculum statement that determines education for state and private schools as well as home education. The National Curriculum Statement promulgated in the Government Gazette on 31st May 2002 is explicitly aimed at transforming South African society by instilling in children an approved set of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes. ( http://education.pwv.gpv.za)
Throughout the curriculum almost all creative expressions of science and culture must, in true Stalinist fashion, pay homage to the ideologically selected set of prescribed values.
The approved curriculum is scheduled to be phased in from 2004. It imposes among other qualities interfaith, which is the notion that that religion is merely a useful way of dealing with adversity and uncertainty and that, therefore, all religions are valid ways to “god”. To study religion from the perspective of any religion other than interfaith itself is expressly forbidden. The curriculum also imposes multiculturalism, which is explicitly aimed at fusing all cultures into one common culture.
“Critical thinking” forms an important aspect of the curriculum. Indications are that this teaches children, not to search for truth, but to consistently challenge all relationships of authority, except that between state and subject. It is, therefore, aimed against all civic relationships (“relationships of power”), including relationships in the family, faith communities and cultural groups.
b) One national assessment process and procedure that applies to state and private schools as well as home education will ensure that children are taught according to the national curriculum. This system includes “bench mark assessments” at Grade 3 and Grade 6. These will ensure that all children are assessed in the same manner.
It also includes the new General Education and Training Certificate (GETC), which comprises a national assessment at Grade 9 level. Persons who fail to obtain the GETC will not be allowed to receive further education and training.
The system is backed up by the new “whole school evaluation system” where schools are “audited” by teams of specialist inspectors.
c) The National Learner Records Database (NLRD) records all recognised qualifications in the country, all institutions accredited to provide those qualifications, and the details of every learner who has achieved qualifications recognised on the NLRD. ( http://www.saqa.org.za)
Clearly, no person who is not registered on the NLRD will be able to obtain skilled work, further education, or training. The National Curriculum Statement demonstrates that the government will deny registration on the NLRD to persons who refuse to internalise, confess and live out the state approved value system.
(Also, for those already qualified, a compulsory “continued education” system is being introduced, which already operates in the medical and some other professions. Continued education may also need to be recorded on the NLRD to ensure that professionals remain “current”. Potentially, values-based continued education can be used to keep the entire work force ideologically committed in the same way as the school curriculum already does.)
The authorities responsible for the NLRD claim that no other country in the world operates such a comprehensive system of social surveillance.
The National Qualifications Framework, manifested in the NLRD and informed by the National Curriculum Statements, forms a comprehensive, watertight system. The National Curriculum Statement of 31st May 2002 demonstrates conclusively that the present government intends to use the NQF as a weapon of ideological coercion.
Almost all avenues of democratic protest against the system have now been exhausted. According to legal advice obtained by the Pestalozzi Trust, various aspects of the system are, however, in conflict with law and the constitution. The Trust therefore supports all lawful actions to avoid or prevent the imposition of the system.
In accordance with legal advice, the Trust can no longer recommend the registration of home learners with education authorities as provided for by legislation and expects unregistered learners to increase.
- Leendert van Oostrum