(Some are just more equal than others)
by Dani Kreusch
Places of education are often made out to be the heartbeat of Grahamstown. After all, not only do we have Rhodes University students creating enough movement and noise to drum up a steady pulse for the town, but we have the likes of prestigious schools such as DSG, St Andrews and Victoria Girls. These are the places parents are proud to send their children – the shining examples of all that’s gone right for education in the twenty years since democracy.
Even if you can only dream about the squeaky halls of the Big Three, those from further up in the Eastern Cape tend to think very highly of all the schools in the Grahamstown area. And, why not? Education in South Africa is one of the big things that all facets of government and media always flock around at any given opportunity. So it shouldn’t matter whether you attend Samuel Ntsiko or PJ Olivier: in South African education, all children are equal.
It just so happens that some are more equal than others.
This is truth, penned most famously by George Orwell, can be the starting point of a hundred essays and debates on South African Education. But sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Or, better yet: more often than sometimes people can tell their own stories a lot better than journalists can. With that in mind, we leave this setup of things you already know about education in Grahamstown and turn over the reigns to Stefan Göttfried. In November of last year, Göttfried travelled all along the Eastern Cape to document the successes and failures of the education system in our province. What he found may be news to some and the everyday wry struggle to many, but it is essential viewing for everybody interested in South African education, and the ways “education” isn’t just something to do with brick classrooms and strict teachers (when there are teachers at all).
Many thanks to Stefan Göttfried, who allowed us to link to his video, who put his heart and soul into a small segment of this huge story and who spoke at length with Art Beat’s Chelsea Haith about his experiences here.