On the news today there's an article about the results of last year's census here in South Africa. Here's the BBC's take on it: South Africa's census: Racial divide continuing.
Given how the media likes to sensationalise stuff and focus on the negatives the article leads with the grim statistic that the black majority are paid six times less than their white counterparts.
In typical fashion Jacob Zuma has done little to acknowledge the problem or to address it, preferring instead to retreat into political rhetoric about how the ANC have done more than any previous government to deal with the issues. Thing is, they've been the only government since the end of apartheid.
Normally I avoid politics here in SA, mainly because I can't vote and partly because we used to be with a mission organisation that prohibited its members from getting involved. The second reason is no longer valid but I'm still unable to vote despite being a permanent resident with a constitutional right to remain in the country.
So here and now I will state categorically that the government is entirely responsible for this grim statistic! Since the inception of Black Economic empowerment (BEE) they have been very focused on making sure that the means of production are in the hands of the black majority as much as possible. In reality this means that the well connected have profited nicely whilst the majority remain in poverty. Anyone who disagrees needs to get off their backside and go into a township or two!
Even worse than this though is the fact that the government continues to ignore the one true avenue of BEE, namely to level the academic playing field. If the government raised the standard of education in the poorer communities to the same level as that in the wealthier communities things would begin to change massively. For that to happen though teachers need to be paid a living wage. Currently a university educated teacher earns less than a miner! Schools should be resourced and teachers should be trained to use the resources to benefit the pupils to their maximum effect. Tragically here in SA much of the best work being done in schools is facilitated by NGO's and charities thereby relieving government of its obligations.
I truly believe that until this happens the disparity between the white minority and black majority will continue. Sure some will get fat and rich off the spoils of BEE, especially the well connected but as most Americans can testify, positive discrimination does not work.
Martin Luther King had a dream in which he believed that one day his children would be judged on the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin. I'm convinced that he would have seen education as being pivotal in his dream. Sadly in many aspects of society, both here and around the world this dream is far from being realised.