[Fwd: Sandile Memela - Department of Arts & Culture]

Sandile Memela is an author and chief director for Marketing &
Public relations at the Department of Arts & Culture. He writes
in his personal capacity.

For almost 30 years I have debated the subject of matric results with
many different people from different walks of life. One thing that
strikes those with eyes to see is that white students continue to
dominate and outshine the ranks of matric super-achievers followed by
so-called Indians.

There is a perception that African students are the worst performers.

If you look at the faces of smiling and happy pupils who have
obtained more than six distinctions in matric this year, they are mostly

Of course, that tells us something not about who has superior
intelligence but who is willing to put their shoulder to the wheel.

After all, the greatest determinant of how many distinctions a
student is going to get at the end of the year is the amount of work
they are willing to put in.

One thing that has struck me over the last 15 years is that
African students seem to be more interested in song, dance, fashion
and booze than self-discipline, focus and hard work.

Of course this is a generalisation that makes the innocent suffer
but one needs only visit festivals, nightclubs and other places of
entertainment to find out which direction African students channel their

The reality of the situation is that white and Indian pupils are
too few a minorities for them to dominate matric results.

It is time that we asked a hard question of African students: how
long are they going to depend on affirmative action to make headway in life?

Of course, it is a justifiable government policy to demand that
tertiary institutions make special provision for African students to be
enrolled at universities. But who should be given special treatment
between a super-performing white student and a time-wasting African
student with low marks?

I would be wary to answer, without any reservation, and with the
deepest conviction of my heart and soul that the opportunity should go
to an African student.

It is time that special focus was put on matric results and the
performance of African students at high school level and beyond.

Since 1994 African students have had the power to choose to be
great super-achievers or mediocre talents. Their parents and government
continue to make huge sacrifices, huge amounts of money for them to
attend the best former whites-only schools under the best conditions.

It is just an excuse for us to accept that African students face
racism, victimisation and that we continue to blame white teachers and
principals for their poor performance.

Fundamentally, African students are the product of what they choose
to be. Their matric results have very little to do with their genes or
the upbringing and environment they live in.

Certainly, the issue of language, genes and culture, if you like,
often influence how students learn but this does not predetermine their
results. The excuse that African students are so-called Historically
Disadvantaged Individuals has been bandied about for far too long, now.

The essence of the difference in matric results between White,
Indian and African students is simply a matter of self-discipline, focus
and hard work.

It is time more was demanded of African pupils rather than encourage
them to continue to believe that they future is secured simply because
of their skin colour.

This whole attitude of entitlement makes it easy for conservatives
to say that affirmative action is reverse racism. African pupils make
choices based on the values they learn from their families and communities.

African leadership and management at family and institutional
level is, largely, a product of a culture of entitlement. This misleads
the youth. The ability of pupils to reinvent themselves and surpass all
expectations in matric performance is what this country needs,
especially from African youth.

The best gift that the white and Indian youth have given this
country is the example of focused, disciplined and hard working young

Let us not discriminate against them, later, to make way for African
youth who are not a source of pride for this nation. It is time that
merit and a willingness to work harder were the new criteria to decide
who gets an opportunity in the New South Africa and who does not.

African pupils must choose whether they want to succeed or perish as

If they choose the latter, they must face the consequences of their
own choices. The future of Africa deserves better quality leadership
than our youth are putting on the table.


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