Lockdown has exposed inequality in the schooling system - Prof Jonathan Jansen
Jonathan Jansen is an internationally renowned expert in education, who in 2009 became the first black rector and vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State.
He is now Distinguished Professor in the faculty of education - Stellenbosch University
Born in Cape Town in 1956, in the Cape Flats. He attended primary school there. He pursued a bachelor of science degree at the University of the Western Cape. In 1985, one year after the country’s first general elections, Jansen came to the attention of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and American activists, who selected him for a scholarship at Cornell University. He then came to Stanford in 1987 to pursue his doctorate.
In 2009, Jansen applied and became the first black president of the historically white — but gradually integrated post-apartheid — UFS, which has three campuses and more than 31,000 students from 40 countries. It was a step up from his previous post as dean of education at another former white institution, the University of Pretoria, where he had played a leading role in integrating the campus. And it posed an even greater challenge. Jansen arrived at UFS to find that reconciliation between white Afrikaner and black students was in turmoil even though former president Nelson Mandela had earlier declared the school a model of post-racial transformation.
I was brought up in the church. My activism was not traditional like that of my younger brother or cousin. Al my life I've worked the development of the youth In the Western Cape, unlike in Johannesburg, for example, there is a very long tradition of not abandoning education but using education in order to achieve your goals. You see this in the life of some activists like Neville Alexader for example.Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor in the faculty of education - Stellenbosch University
I was lucky to get tools for understanding what was going on such as education. For me, it was about how to use education to get yourself out of misery and how to use education to take over. I see education as a tool to broaden your mind and think for yourself.Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor in the faculty of education - Stellenbosch University
Covid has shown us how unequal we are. When we went into hard lockdown last year, the kids in the fancy schools went straight from face to face to online. The children from the poorer schools were cut off immediately and we're gonna pay for that big time.Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor in the faculty of education - Stellenbosch University
Would he consider becoming the minister of basic or tertiary education?
You don't run minister of education or any ministry, you get appointed. There are so many competent people in South Africa, even in the ANC, who could do better than the current people running the different ministries. I enjoy playing other roles, some of us are not cut out for being in party politics.Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor in the faculty of education - Stellenbosch University
If we were in another world and I had a say in what happens, I would build the foundations of our school system early childhood education, first grades, strengthen numeracy, literacy, critical thinking, the ability to speak with confidence. Strengthen that so that more children get through the system, rather than what we have at the moment.Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor in the faculty of education - Stellenbosch University
We need to understand that no country builds a strong education system from Grade 12 to university; you build it by strengthening early childhood education.Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor in the faculty of education - Stellenbosch University
I cannot see a solution coming from the government in the next 10 or 15 years. But we are not helpless.Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor in the faculty of education - Stellenbosch University
Listen below for the full interview...