Vol 12 Edition 2, 2002: State Education - A Sinking Ship?


Despite Opposition to the National Curriculum Statement (NCS)

In November last year, tensions were high as over 2,000 Christians marched to Parliament. Christians carried placards declaring: "Schools - More power to parents"; "Parents must decide what children learn"; "Children belong to parents - not to the state"; "Stop secular brainwashing in schools" and "Keep prayer in schools". Minister of Education, Prof. Kader Asmal, admitted receiving over 10,000 submissions from Christians and concerned parents. However, he had the audacity to dismiss them as a "bizarre and orchestrated campaign." During this period, the Minister also referred to the Biblical world view as a "historical anachronism"1 and home schoolers as trying to "impose their loony, paranoid and perverse ideas on the nation"! Nevertheless the pressure was sufficient to delay the implementation of the NCS, at least until emotions had died down.

Six months later - on Monday 15 April 2002, a decision was taken to go ahead with the implementation of NCS! The question arises, how does the NCS differ from the previous draft version of Curriculum 2005?

To clarify the exact position of the final version of the NCS is near impossible. According to Alan Sutherland of the Association of Christian Schools International who attended the 15 April press conference in Pretoria, the final NCS is larger than the previous 1,400-page draft document. At the time of writing, the Western Cape Education Department had no hard copies in their office and only the overview was available on the Government website (the first page says "EMBARGOED"2).

Understanding The NCS

Imagine that the curriculum (and its specified outcomes) are a soccer goal post's frame. Outcomes can include knowledge, skills, values and attitudes. Imagine the net attached to the goals is the learning programs - the content to be studied. In the market, there are various learning programs (or nets) available, each shaped by different philosophies, but in the end each learning program (net) must conform to the curriculum (attach itself to the frame). So we see that the curriculum determines and limits class content.

Understanding The Problems With The NCS

In the 1,400-page draft NCS, several troubling outcomes emerged. Included in these were:

* the testing of state-determined values,
* an explicit and at times pornographic compulsory sex education,
* multi-faith or "Religion Education",
* the curriculum forced on all schools including private, Christian and home-schools, and
* a slanted interpretation of history and the sciences, which favours Islam and has Marxism and Evolution as the foundation.

Changes In the Right Direction…?

According to Alan Sutherland, the major changes to the curriculum are in the Languages section, promoting education in the mother tongue and multi-lingualism. 

Minister Asmal gave Christian schools the assurance that he would allow them the freedom to interpret the curriculum for themselves. But this freedom is limited since learners will have to write the national General Education and Training Certificate at the end of grade 9. Apparently the Department of Education (DoE) is allowing schools this freedom because they are more interested in values (set by the curriculum outcomes and tested in the exam) than the content that may be chosen by schools.

Ambiguities, Newspeak and Doubletalk

Regarding radical sex education, Minister Asmal said at the 15 April press conference: "There is no sex education, although we encourage an awareness of sexuality, which in the context of sexual abuse and HIV/Aids is essential." 

Regarding Religion Education, he said, "There is no religious indoctrination, but we encourage children to be aware of the full diversity of South African society: the rich array of races, ethnic and language groups, and the many religious belief systems which make up this country." 

These are ambiguous statements and sound very similar to what he said at the heat of the debate last year. They can be interpreted both conservatively and liberally. For example "no religious indoctrination" could mean, no single faiths like Christianity; "we encourage an awareness of sexuality" is deceptive language for Planned Parenthood (PP) sex education3, and "HIV/Aids education" is a vehicle long used by pro-homosexual groups to push their pink agenda4. 

The only apparent compromise is allowing parents to take up complaints with the school governing bodies - "If any of this content is offensive to parents, they should take this up with the school itself, which has the full authority to revise a particular programme."

While Minister Asmal claims "there is no sex education", the latest report is that he has "instructed his department to urgently implement sexual education in schools, technikons and universities"5, under the pretext that explicit sex education will prevent HIV/Aids. 

Teachers Sexually Abusing Children

While the sex education programmes (such as loveLife) have been known to have disastrous affects on children6, they appear to be affecting teachers too. A study revealed thatteachers commit a third of all child abuse in South Africa. In response to this, Education Minister, Kader Asmal, said child abuse is "not a serious crime".7 In addition, a recent World Bank study claims that 40,000 of the 360,000 teachers in South Africa are HIV positive. Can they be Godly role models for our children?


Centralised Power and Compulsory State Education

While promising more powers to parents through the school governing bodies, the DoE has sneakily proposed changes to five education acts (the Education Laws Amendment Bill) without having a press conference or media statement. This approach could be because they realised that Christians and other concerned parents are a threat to their secular humanist agenda. The changes are to "make policy that is legally binding on third parties such as schools and PARENTS"8 (emphasis added). Effectively this would allow the minister to set the national curriculum and assessment tools, applying to both public and private schools, overriding all provinces. The proposed changes are far reaching and include the South African Schools Act, 1996, The Further Education and Training Act, 1998 and The Adult Basic Education and Training Act, 2000. If implemented, the DoE will have the monopoly of education from pre-primary to tertiary level and even adult basic education (adults out of the official schooling system)!

Elsewhere government is privatising state assets, but in education they are centralising power and control. The proposed changes say: "The curriculum and instrument contemplated in section 6A(1) MUST be applicable to public and independent schools" (emphasis added). These laws will force all children to write the DoE's school leaving certificate (affecting home schoolers and Christian Independent schools) but at this stage they do not stop private and home schoolers from writing independent exams in addition to the state exam.

Proposed changes to the Employment of Educators Act 1998 will remove the right of school governing bodies to select teachers, leaving teacher appointments entirely up to the DoE. Such centralised power must always be opposed. Even the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA objected to this move claiming it to be a move away from the "democratisation of education". The union believes that the strength of the South African Schools Act at present is that communities are able to influence the appointment of teachers based on the needs of such communities.9 The decentralised model is closer to the Biblical model for governance. It will be impossible for any state bureaucracy to show the same care, concern and attention to detail as a School Governing Body consisting of parents and teachers of that particular school.

Overwhelming Opposition at Parliamentary Hearings

Christian Action Network made an oral submission to the Education Portfolio Committee on 13 August 2002 on the Education Laws Amendment Bill. It was impressive to witness presentation after presentation criticise the proposed amendments. These amendments would give the executive (in particular, the Office of the Minister of Education) excessive power to regulate schooling in South Africa. These powers would extend to all public, independent, private, faith-based and home schools.

One presentation highlighted that there have already been cancellations of enrolments at teacher training colleges as the result of these proposed amendments. It was pointed out that last year 17500 teachers left the profession (many due to AIDS related death) while only 2500 new teachers entered the profession. It was felt by many that forcing new teachers and those returning to the system (e.g. teachers returning from a maternity break) to teach in rural communities could lead to a mass exodus as qualified teachers emigrate to greener pastures. Further, these strong-arm centralised tactics do not take family commitments into account. The sweeping power to centralise the appointment of teachers also undermines the role and function of school governing bodies, making them redundant. Many testified that where the state bureaucracy usurps this power, schools wait for months (even years) for the appointment of a teacher. The result is the decline of education and neglect of our children.

Nearly all presentations expressed alarm and concern about the Ministry of Education having the power to write a national curriculum, as this implies content and hence the possibility for indoctrination. Duncan Hindle of the Department of Education explained that it was only the intention of the Department to set outcomes and not to prescribe content. However, that is not how the amendments read and they therefore must not be passed in their current form. The Ministry of Education also wants to control assessment processes. Many professional teachers noted that if you control assessments, you control content, since teachers always teach to the exam.

Organisations representing independent schools understandably expressed concern about their future. It was pointed out that in Europe, the Americas, Australasia and even Southern Africa, independent schools have the right to decide their own curriculum and means of assessment. This Bill seeks to destroy this diversity.

Will the Ministry of Education heed the many voices against the amendments? Will democracy be allowed to flourish, or will the DoE bulldoze through this legislation against the wishes of the people? The Education Portfolio Committee will meet again on 17 September 2002 to vote on this legislation. Please pray!

Where are the Lifeboats?

Lies, Liberals - and The Lord

We should not despair, but keep trusting our God and putting feet to our prayers by acting upon them - read Psalm 14. If there is one thing we can learn from this entire process is that liberals lie! Humanists plot lies; they lie deliberately to mislead and deceive and to hide their evil agendas. Atheists cannot be trusted. Because they are not hemmed in by the truth, they take unfair advantage, jumping God-ordained boundaries. But their deceitfulness also invites God's wrath:

"Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord" Proverbs 12:22 

On A Positive Note

It is encouraging that Welfare Minister Ben Ngubane has designated funds for Focus on the Family's Biblically based sex education course - "No Apologies". Courses such as this have been successfully used in Uganda to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS. However, will projects sponsored in the Department of Welfare impact on the DoE and public schools? At the moment, they are only operating in Independent schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

It is also encouraging that the Free State DoE has decided that there will be no sex education in the province's schools and loveLife will not be allowed to operate there10. Pressure from parents using an "Opt out of sex education in school form" from "The Pink Agenda" played a big part in this decision. This form is also available on our web site. The form can also be adapted to assert parental rights to limit indoctrination about other religions or the teaching of humanist philosophies like evolution. You too can influence your province's decisions!

According to the South African Constitution11, the provinces are also allowed to draw up laws about education. Even if national government decides to press ahead with the proposals, the provinces can challenge them. Get onto your school's governing body, and use this position to influence your provincial DoE to follow a Godly course of action.

Education Needs Transformation

We need a grassroots transformation. There needs to be a concerted effort from EVERY concerned parent to take these issues up with their School Governing Bodies and encourage their school to use alternatives to the tax sponsored, government endorsed pro-abortion, pro-homosexual and pro-condom groups like loveLife, replacing them with values-based learning programs like: "No Apologies" by Focus on the Family; True Love Waits; "The Bold and the Brave" by Doctors for Life; Campus Crusade for Christ and Scripture Union.

The Church's Role

Churches need to increase Biblical teaching to the youth through Sunday School programs and Bible Studies. The Biblical world view on Creation versus Evolution, Christian History, Abstinence and Biblical Courtship is especially needed. Praise God that there is plenty of excellent material available - see the recommended books and web sites at the end of this article.

A Longer Term Solution

While it is good to reform state schools, as an educator, I firmly believe that in the long term we need a ground swell of Christian private schools and home-schools. Internationally respected Focus on the Family President Dr. James Dobson has called for American parents to take their children out of public schools, saying that if he had children in California, he "wouldn't put the youngster in a public school."12

My advice to parents is to put on your "critical glasses". "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." We are dealing with secular humanists who will continue to advance their agenda. No Protestant nation has ever fallen to communism, but many have fallen to humanism and secularism, and educational institutions have often been the first to succumb. A free country needs solid Christian education and private schools teaching a Biblical world view - free from state control.

"He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the Law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands." Psalm 78:5-7

By Rob Mc Cafferty

Recommended Reading:
"Weighed in the Balance and Found Wanting - The Failure of Public Schools, The Need for Christian Education" by Dr. Paul Lindstrom. This is an excellent little book to motivate parents who have not yet been convinced to put in the effort required to ensure their children get a thoroughly Christian education. 44 pages, order for only R14.
"The Safety Net Plan - Developing a Christian Worldview through Family Devotions" by Dr. Paul Lindstrom. This is a positive, practical and inspiring tool to help parents help their children to view reading and literature, mathematics, science, history, geography, political science, economics, art and music and physical education Biblically. 45 powerful pages, order for only R24.

Recommended Surfing:
Doctors for Life - www.dfl.org.za; 
True Love Waits - www.tlw.org.za;
Theocentric Christian Education (TCE) - www.homeschool-tce.co.za
Christian Liberty Books (supplementary education and home schooling materials from Christian Liberty Academy - you can order online) - www.christianlibertybooks.co.za

1. Anachronism - "an old-fashioned or out-of-date person or thing"
2. Embargoed - "an official suspension of activity"
3. Planned Parenthood is the world's largest and richest Non Governmental Organisation (NGO). They are the world's largest abortion provider and are driven by a eugenics programme that sought to model itself on Nazi Germany. PP founder, Margaret Sanger, hated Christian charity as this tampered with her survival of the fittest philosophy. Margaret Sanger sought to exterminate Black people, whom she referred to as
"human weeds". She also encouraged promiscuity through promotion of contraception. PP has tentacles in over 122 countries. PP operates in South Africa under the name Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa (PPASA), but have many fronts including loveLife and the Reproductive Rights Alliance (pro-abortion lobby group). PPASA won the national tender to train teachers in sex education and provide sex education textbooks under the Life Orientation learning area.
4. See The Pink Agenda by Christine Mc Cafferty with Peter Hammond
5. Cape Argus, 16 August 2002, p. 1
6. "Since the federal government (USA) began its major contraceptive program in 1970, unwed pregnancies have increased 87 percent among fifteen-to nineteen-year olds. Likewise, abortions among teens rose 67 percent; unwed births went up 61 percent" (Dr. James Dobson, 1992. The New Dare to Discipline p.212)
7. The Citizen, 31 January 2002, p.1
8. Business Day, 6 May 2002 
9. "New Education Act Causes Concern", Charmaine Pillay, 7 May 2002.
10.Die Volksblad, 23 March 2002 
11.Schedule 4, Part A of Act 108 of 1996, Functional Areas of Concurrent National and Provincial Legislative Competence
12. "Anti-public school movement grows", Press Release, Tuesday, 16 April 2002.

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa info@christianaction.org.za - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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