Michael Trapido
Michael Trapido

An educated population is not a panacea but it’s the only way forward

I have always maintained that the only way for our country to achieve true prosperity, and for individuals and groups to achieve their goals, is through the education of all our people. This means that where there is a budgetary conflict, education takes priority over almost anything else.

I would like to start off by saying that I know almost nothing about systems of education or individual subjects — that is something that our experts in the field need to get right — what I do know is that educated people are capable of making informed decisions, are less prone to mindless prejudice and bigotry and are able to put things into perspective thereby allowing progress, which would otherwise be blocked, to be made.

In order to demonstrate the impact that an educated population would have on our society I would like to go through some examples of how it would change things :

1. Currently we have service-delivery protests which are, in the main, by the same masses who voted for the African National Congress. The failure to deliver being as a result of factors too numerous to mention here but done safe in the knowledge that populist rhetoric will still sway the electorate next time around. On the one side we have the rich and middle class who say that the people get the government they deserve. That is like saying the blind 100 metres runner lost to Usain Bolt because he was unfit. An educated population would dismiss rhetoric and ask the government to explain why they should vote for the same again. In Zimbabwe they did and as a result we have seen one rigged election after the next. South Africans and the ANC are better than that and will evolve accordingly.

2. An educated population would ask how Cosatu — the most powerful association of unions — with aims that are diametrically opposed to that of the ANC/government, can ever be in bed together with it. Labour leaders would point out that in order to improve the lot of the worker they have to tackle government and big business head on. The government on the other hand has to ensure the prosperity of all and clamp down on labour where it undermines that goal. Accordingly the ANC/Cosatu/SACP non-starter would finally dissolve and other more appropriate alliances would be formed. This empowers the government who are not beholden to labour and labour because they can go about fulfilling their mandate without worrying about being excluded from government.

3. Currently far right and general ambitions by the Afrikaner community are finding expression in groups like the Boeremag, emigration and Oranje. The vast majority of Afrikaners are proud to be South African but want to preserve their culture and heritage. The ideal solution to this, in my humble opinion, is found in federalism whereby groups are able to secure their own values while belonging to the whole at the same time. In the best example, the United States of America, the diverse systems and opportunities found through this system produced the world’s hyper power. Each state has its own government but when it comes to issues that affect the country as a whole the federal government holds sway. If the Afrikaners were to try and call for more autonomy within such a federal system presently they would be met with cries of apartheid by the masses. An educated population — made up of many different groups — is able to identify with the system in the US, realise that we too have many different races, cultures and religions all of which could be accommodated by a system such as federalism. You wouldn’t dare explain that to an uneducated mass who can easily be led to believe that anything or anyone is responsible for their suffering. This would not allow discrimination but, as seen in the Western Cape, like-minded people would tend to group together. Instead of trying to manipulate that by sending “coloureds” into the rest of the country or usurping the powers of the provinces rather recognise what the reality is and promote it.

4. An educated population would welcome an information bill to protect state security but would never allow the government to use it to clamp down on the media UNLESS actual issues of state security are involved.

5. An educated population would identify with their fellow South Africans because they understand how their cultural differences have mixed together to make this country another great melting pot of which we can all be proud. Then through sport and other activities the general fabric, which has been woven through education, can be firmly tied together.

6. On an individual level each person becomes an asset who can contribute MUCH MORE to our progress and has something to fall back on even if the system fails. Currently the masses do not have that luxury because the vast majority can’t offer their labour — in a material rather than menial way — elsewhere.

7. Lastly, for this exercise, the government would have achieved something wonderful which would, on every level, enhance the possibility of achieving the goals they have set for themselves and where they fall short leave them facing an educated population who understand the problems, are looking for answers not burning down the house and do not attack the foreigners who come to our country looking for a better life.

In my mind, every day, there are numerous permutations on how an educated population could solve so many of the problems we face while an uneducated mass presents the biggest challenge to the government and us all.

That is why I say that — life-threatening issues aside — it must be EDUCATION EDUCATION EDUCATION if we are to realise our dreams.


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    • Momma Cyndi

      You do realise that you have just listed every reason why our current government would decide to NOT educate the population?

    • Lector

      This may be difficult. The Minister of Higher Education is a Stalinist Communist. And Communists rely on lies, manipulation and outright intimidation to get their way. The last thing Communists want is educated people, or independent thought, or truth. Or freedom.

    • Sikorski

      “An educated population would ask how Cosatu — the most powerful association of unions — with aims that are diametrically opposed to that of the ANC/government, can ever be in bed together with it.” There is a historical precedent for racial nationalists and Communists to be in bed together. As I recall, it was the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact. And ask the citizens of Poland how that turned out.

    • Heinrich

      There are many more, like :

      An educated population would ask how can the leader of a political party within a multi party system, also be the ( impartial) President of the country?

      How can this President appoint commissions of inquiry to investigate alleged wrongdoing by himself or his party?

      How can this President be trusted to appoint leaders in the so- called “independent” institutions, when he and his party can benefit in manipulation?

      How can the public be represented in Parliament by friends of the President, or leaders of a political party, who have no contact with or no mandate from the people they supposedly represent?

      The same question about Municipalities: How can a Political party decide on who is to manage a town or a city? Surely this is the prerogative of the inhabitants themselves.

      An educated population will also ask: What has education, healthcare, SAPS, Forestry etc got to do with politics? And : Why should there be private healthcare, private education and private security, when the government is already tasked with this and empowered via taxes? Also : Why should government employees be allowed to use private services like this?

      Also : Why should there be such extravagant perks and privileges for government employees? Why can’t we rewrite the Ministerial and Parliamentary handbooks?

      How can a political party ( and a majority – “governing” – party at that ) be allowed to do business with the government, with the view of…

    • Enough Said

      @Mike – agreed – “it must be EDUCATION EDUCATION EDUCATION if we are to realise our dreams.”

      There is a panacea to our education crises. Dysfunctional schools can be transformed in 3 months. “The Consciousness-Based education programme (CBE) provides a practical, proven approach to prevent anti-social behaviour and other educational problems by developing the creative intelligence and inner happiness of every student.”

    • michael

      Michael, this is a wish list it is not going to materialize.The anc is great on symbolism and ceremony and totally ineffectually in tackling real problems.

    • GrahamJ

      You might cast an eye over this:


      It provides some excellent insights.

    • Baz

      @ Michael 3rd September, whole heartedly agree, my sentiments too !

    • http://lepage.wordpress.com David

      Of course education is important, but it’s only a small part of the equation.

      I feel the article confuses being well educated and having a well-developed sense of justice. A reasonable sense of justice is motivated by access to the fact, and an understanding of the facts. But the complacency of comfortable middle classes around the world suggests that knowing and understanding the facts really leads people to actually act on that knowledge.

      Before getting too excited about education as a first-line solution, we should also bear this in mind: that poverty actually deeply compromises intelligence.


      People in South Africa who are not middle-class have a deep, visceral sense of injustice, and a willingness to act on it, as thousands of service delivery protests bear witness. The disconnect between their outrage and actual political change is not education – it’s economics. Because without money – to organise, to communicate, to lobby, to advertise, to influence – there is little power. Especially in a country where protesting is a life-threatening decision, as Marikana so tragically demonstrated.

    • Sipho

      What are the chances “educated population” is another definition for people who’d vote for the DA? It’s very seldom that we hear of people who exercise their voting choice being associated with education. Just like being regarded as independent is depended entirely on one serially attacking the government in some quarters. I don’t think educated people can be found outside of the DA aligned individuals.

    • Momma Cyndi


      I don’t know where you get that idea from. The DA is an exact replica of the ANC. Their manifestos don’t have much more than a cat’s whisker between them. An ‘educated’ person would see that immediately.

      My favourite politician of all time is Joel Netshitenzhe. He is anything but un-educated. That doesn’t, however, mean that I will vote ANC next year. I don’t know who I will vote for but it won’t be ANC or DA.

    • Sipho

      Thanks Momma Cyndi, it’s a first that I hear of someone outside of the DA influence being regarded as educated. Un-educated has become a code name for black people especially those who vote ANC at polls. I have never heard of white people being regarded as un-educated, instead they are disparagingly referred to by the areas they stay in, e.g. Boksburg, Brakpan, Germiston, Springs, Alberton.

    • Momma Cyndi


      Us white folk do tend to clump people into neighbourhoods. It comes from the time when we were segregated by trade. You had railway houses, mine houses, manager houses, etc. If there was one thing that my forefathers was good at it was filing people. They were the original librarians!

      We are blessed in SA with any number of black people who are awesome. Some of them, we don’t know who they vote for but many are within the ANC. The Mbeki brothers, Cyril, Papa Joel, Dr Ramphele, Judge Langa (sadly lost now), Ngcuba, Prof Pityana, Pikoli (those are the ones that I think I can spell right) ….. wow, the list is endless.

      Just because we lump people into neatly filed areas doesn’t mean that there are no black people who are greatly admired. We simply don’t have a neighbourhood to put them into ….. and yes, the majority of the ANC support is uneducated. The reality is that the vast majority of older voters are uneducated thanks to apartheid, so I don’t see why white people are complaining

    • Sipho

      Momma Cyndi # just and observation. It’s interesting that all the people you mentioned have had skirmishes with Jacob Zuma – I suspect that’s how they earned their accolades. Black people’s independencof thought is measured by their attitude towards Jacob Zuma, which me thinks is unfortunate, because this country is likely to be saddled with these educated people in the future whose contribution has been to express anti Zuma sentiments.

    • Momma Cyndi


      I was unaware of huge skirmishes with Cyril or Papa Joel.
      Zuma is a politician. I doubt that there is a single person that he knows that has not disagreed with him at some point in his life ….. and that probably includes his various wives, mistresses and skellems

      This has nothing to do with Zuma. This has to do with people that I, personally, admire. If you want to put Zuma at the top of your list, that is your prerogative. Just don’t try and force your beliefs on other people. No matter what you say, I will not change my mind about the fact that we have brilliant black people and I won’t change my mind about the criteria I use to rate them as brilliant.

    • Sipho

      Momma Cyndi # it’s unfortunate that you seem to know so few awesome black people. Don’t you think Mary and John are awesome as well. Me thinks you need to accept that you live in a country that is parallel to mine which has it’s advantages and disadvantages.

    • Magda Scheuer

      Hi Michael,
      How can we get in touch with you? We would like to discuss something that is not for the worldwide web.