www.inside-politics.org

Analysis of and commentary on South African politics from a liberal perspective. Winner: Best Political Blog 2012.

Tag: Education

Burning books: The African way


imagesFEATURE: Much has rightly been made of the destruction of key texts and manuscripts held at Timbuktu; much less of the spate of library burning in South Africa over the last four years. Why is that? I have compiled an archive of libraries burnt in South Africa during this period and, in the piece below, argue that while we are quick to express passion about ‘African’ cultural ideals, we have little to say about book burning in our country and what it says about our actual cultural attitude to knowledge and education.

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ERROR: ANC-run provinces do not compute


FEATURE: Some four months ago – more than 120 days past – I documented how the websites for 18 ANC-run provincial departments were broken. I recently revisted them all again, to see if anything had changed. Nothing had. In fact, 19 are now broken and, of them, 15 have been broken since April (possibly longer). As in April, the only exception was the DA-run Western Cape Government. Its websites not only worked perfectly but were the most user-friendly. That tells you much about the attitude of those governments to transparency and accountablity; for access to government information is your right. To see which didn’t work and why, read on. [GRAPHIC included]

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In conversation about tolerance


SERIES: Two heads are better than one, or so the saying goes. Jacques Rousseau is a lecturer in critical thinking and ethics, as well as a columnist for the Daily Maverick and, in discussion with him, the series In Conversation will look to explore a key concept or development in a few email exchanges. Few ideas get more attention than in South African public debate than that of ‘tolerance’ – and, with it, the seemingly omnipresent idea of ‘offence’. We get offended a lot. Too much perhaps? In response, tolerance seems to have become an excuse to avoid the proper critical examination of bad ideas and poor thinking. These, among others, are some of the issues explored this week.

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What would a society mired in mediocrity look like?


ARTICLE: Mediocrity is a devilish thing – pervasive and insidious and yet so ill-defined. It is relatively easy to understand what excellence is, much harder though to define its nemesis. What I have tried to do in the article below is describe what a society firmly in mediocrity’s grip might look like. It is a helpful exercise, if only because it makes it easier to understand the important role excellence plays and its general effect.

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Refugees: The ANC’s xenophobic bigotry revealed


FEATURE: Moral outrage often says more about those outraged than the issue at hand. The hysteria surrounding Helen Zille’s use of the word refugee – particularly from the ANC – makes the case: the meaning of the word is beyond dispute, the prejudice which has fuelled the way it has been perceived, however, has hardly been touched on. And a closer inspection of the ANC’s actual response on the matter suggests it has a lot of answer for – a new target for South Africa’s media to focus its moralising on. Whether or not it does so, however, is different question, the answer to which is revealing.

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