As soon as a child can't concentrate, the child is being labelled as having ADHD.
Sadly in South Africa what is far more likely to be the case is that the child is hungry and/or traumatised.
Who can concentrate on an empty stomach or when living with violence and abuse as a constant companion?
I am wondering if we are going about trying to fix education the wrong way and I hope you will hear (read) me out.
No, I am not a teacher but I am a parent and grandparent and I am passionate about education and South Africa.
Teachers understandably lament that parents have abdicated their parenting responsibilities. Parents don't come to parent / teacher meetings, they don't involve themselves in school activities, homework is not supervised and many are reluctant to pay the fees that are necessary to keep the schools going.
Our Lost Generations
In South Africa we have the unique situation that the majority of people aged between 30 and 60 received little or no education. Most of these folk who were fortunate enough to go to school were subjected to the very inferior Bantu Education system. OK, I know we have had "equal" education since 1994 and we have crime, corruption, cronyism, laziness, drugs, HIV, indiscriminate breeding and, and, and ..... Yes, yes, yes but dear reader, please indulge me a little longer.
These folk are the parents and grandchildren of the learners in school today. They are not equipped to help their children with homework. Many are functionally illiterate and unemployed living in shacks. The prospect of attending a parent / teacher meeting must be terrifying particularly when their children are attending a "former model C school" where the children are being taught in English. They do not have the resources to provide a stable home life, can't read to their children, help them with maths homework and years without being employed strips people of their dignity and self worth.
My domestic worker at age 33 has a Grade 3 education, speaks almost no English, can't read or write in any language but is immensely proud of her son who is now 12 and in Grade 4. He is more educated than she is but he also cannot speak much English and she has no way of helping him.
Build The Future
Many of our educators are poorly trained due to inequalities in the teacher training colleges. A teacher in one of our local schools sits at her desk banging a piece of plastic pipe on her desk as 50 ten year old learners stand in rows reciting tables. THIS IS NOT EDUCATION!
If you haven't read Great South African Teachers yet you are missing out on the most inspirational book I have read this year. These are the teachers we should all dream of having to teach our children.
In order to create competent children you need to have competent parents and competent educators.