South Africa is known as one of the most unequal countries in the world, and this is no more obvious than in the education space. Some schools don’t have windows, students don’t have textbooks, and classrooms are often packed with 60 to 70 learners at a time. 

Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, we have private schools with beautiful facilities that are incredibly well-resourced, with every gadget and device a modern student needs to learn and grow.

Our education system can only be as good as our educators. It is up to the teachers in the classrooms to make the learning experience as beneficial as they can for their students and learning itself as conducive as possible to that end.

Grassroots Change-Makers

The change-makers in our education system are the teachers who are operating at grassroot levels, who experience on a daily basis just how unequal our education system is. They are, therefore, right at the coal face of the fight against inequality, where their actions count the most and their voices carry the most weight. 

Even the smallest gesture by a teacher can have a huge impact on inequality. Teachers who are forced to find creative ways to teach because they lack resources can still impart critical thinking and problem-solving skills and inspire confidence.

Bigger gestures, like creating classroom environments that are inclusive and supportive, have even more potential impact on students. By doing simple things like treating students with respect and dignity, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, teachers can give students a small taste of a better world. Even if this only closes the inequality gap by millimetres, it is progress nonetheless.

Embrace Diversity

Other ways teachers close that gap is by embracing diversity and creating teaching scenarios where students can learn from each other. By showing differing viewpoints in an environment where they can be explored safely and with guidance, students learn empathy, critical thinking, and develop an appreciation of different perspectives – things that come in handy in the working world.

Outside the classroom, teachers can advocate for education reforms and campaign for policy changes that can help to address the inequality they experience. They can even help to shape future curricula in ways that make future courses more accurately reflect South Africa’s cultural diversity.

Campaigning for Reforms

By making their voices heard and actively campaigning for reforms in the education system, teachers can have a positive impact on the future of education in the country. In doing so, they are making it more equal for more people in the country.

If you’re interested in helping to build a better future for all in South Africa, one of the most effective ways of doing that is by supporting initiatives like the Jakes Gerwel Fellowship that support teachers and make them even better at doing what they do.