Our Disillusionment with Education

BIG ACHIEVMENT: Darren van Roodt, 22, graduated cum laude with a BSc Honours degree in computer science from the University of the Western Cape. Pictures: Jeffrey Abrahams

In this, my first independent article outside of academia, I serve to iron out a few niggles experienced by the black youths of South Africa; specifically in relation to the crisis in the education sector. A reality which, I strongly believe, has plagued many colonised youth for generations before our time. In our lives, the role of education is vastly exaggerated by either parents or educators up to the level of presidential hopefuls and politicians as the only saving grace and means to uproot us from our circumstance of poverty which now seems to be our burden to correct. In the words of the first Post- Apartheid [Apartheid] South African president Rolihlahla Mandela ‘’ Education is the most powerful tool with which to change our world ‘’. Now such utterances from the man viewed as the Jesus figure of blacks, by those who gained forgiveness for things we ourselves aren’t clear of, are probably to be taken into serious account right?

 Now in reality, for we the supposed born free members of our society, the significance of education becomes worthless when in recent years waves of protest action by young unemployable graduates made itself present in our already troubled nation. The question of whether or not this Western delicacy is of any value to us becomes a nightmare when we face violence and constant victimisation at the hands of our government and institutions of higher learning for our participation in the genuine struggle for Free Decolonised education. It becomes an increasingly confusing and frustrating situation when education is continuously explained to us as the fuel for a thriving economy. It is this major contradiction which then begs to question, why would we have to buy education at such exuberant rates if we ourselves are the commodities?

 In 2015, myself and thousands more in the higher education sector took it upon ourselves to further the selfless struggle for free education; freedom from the capitalist shackles of being commodified. For the sternness of our united call, we continue to face repression and outright exclusion from university spaces. We have thus become the outlaws of the very thing that ought to ‘’civilise’’ us. Our understanding is that education is and will forever be the colonial project which serves to categorise and monopolise our mode of thinking and understanding about the world. It remains a senseless means to an end, a means to continue driving the class disparities between an already violated and traumatised people. Frankly, our heartfelt participation in its culture and order offers us up as fresh meat to the overreaching tastes of capitalism and the benefactors of monopolies.

 Another very arrogant and characteristically colonial aftermath of education in its ‘’formal’’ sense is its historic quest to nullify indigenous forms of knowledge by means of exotification and the false premise that everything that was ever realistically educational was or ought to be written. A very common understanding of something that holds societal benefit and basic human wellbeing is that it is something freely and open to be disseminated among all peoples regardless of their proximity to monetary means to acquire it. Otherwise it is a bourgeois luxury only 11% of our nation’s citizens can afford and one for which many of us willing to chain ourselves to crippling debt.

Education, as it is, is dubious; even in pedagogical aspects. The downright fixation with every movement and whim of the west remains the biggest limitation in the legitimisation of any other school of thought worldwide. Formal education, thus, is the hypnosis that binds our collective consciousness to the dominance of imperialism. An education that, simply put, reduces an entire people to intellectual and monetary captivity.      

Vuyo Nkopo is a 22 year old writer,poet and singer. A firm believer and subscriber of the Black Consciousness Movement an avid reader and creative enthusiast