This is one of a series of columns I wrote for IOL. The original, from September 2011, is here. This is perhaps even more relevant in 2014.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s call for a wealth tax got a lot of people
hot under the collar, in that great journalistic cliche (how many of
us wear collars anyway?).
What I’d really like is a chance to thrash this out with the bishop.
I am a formerly (and still) advantaged white South African and I pay a
lot of tax… and I mean a lot. I pay for my own health care and my
own security and for a large portion of my son’s education and I fully
expect that that will all keep going up. I don’t begrudge any of this
money – it is the price I pay for our history, and I am glad to pay
it. Other people have paid far higher than this.
But I am not happy for my money to be wasted. So a recent report on
IOL about primary education got me all hot under the non-existent
The story said that rural and township school teachers use less than
50 percent of class time on teaching, with the majority of their
non-teaching time spent sitting in staff rooms.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is quoted as saying research
indicated that rural and township pupils in grades 3 and 6 could not
count or understand what they had been taught.
She was speaking at the National Teachers’ Union annual conference in Empangeni.
“In African schools, 41 percent (of class time) is used for teaching;
this has been proven by research. We have to use every hour to serve
and protect teaching. We aren’t asking for much; let’s use teaching
time for what it is meant,” she said.
She said the only distinguishing factor between well-performing
schools and those which fared badly was that teachers were in class,
teaching on time, at successful schools.
“If in Grade 3 the national average performance in literacy was 35
percent, it means that 65 percent of our product is damaged if we were
to speak in business terms.
“The learning deficiencies showed that too little learning is
happening in most schools. If pupils cannot write, it means they
weren’t taught. Poverty has nothing to do with it; they just weren’t
taught,” she said.
Now this enrages me – my money is paying for teachers to sit around in
the staff room, by the admission of the government minister
responsible for making sure that they don’t do that.
It’s simple, Arch – I’ll pay a wealth tax with pleasure if and when
I’m sure it will be spent on something sensible.
*Use our comment form below to suggest ways in which the country could
use its money constructively (attacks on the good bishop, rants about
the ANC and falling standards and the like willl not be published –
and anything that mentions Julius Malema goes in the bin).