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Literacy reduces Poverty

“If you can’t afford to travel just read a book.” 

If a book isn’t something you’re trained to save for, or can easily pick up. Then you’re screwed. 


The unemployment rate in South Africa has been fluctuating between 31.20 and 21.50 per cent between 2003 and 2008. In the fourth quarter of 2016 the unemployment rate was at 27.1%, with a reported 45% of our population earning below the R3500 estimated minimum wage. There are approximately 55 million people in South Africa as I write this, this means just over 25 million people can’t afford three wholesome meals a day. This is either you or me. 

I stay in a community where there are more people who are at home during the day than those who commute to work in the morning. This minority spends most of their vital energy working toward liberating their entire family out of the circle of poverty. Sadly, in most cases the same jobs only further entrench these miserable people into a more sadistic poverty of debt slavery. I grew up in a household led by a rural matriarch who was of the early generation of migrant labour force, so luckily most of her traditions of self-sufficiency were still intact during part of my turbulent childhood. She baked bread, grew vegetables, fruits, sold fried fish and offered tailoring services to the locals. These instinctive activities saved an average of R300 and pulled R200 of tax-free income monthly. The death of my grandmother’s generation was the death of that culture of self-sufficiency, the erosion of our relationship with land and relinquishing of personal responsibility to our wellbeing. Dentists, General Practitioners and hospitals weren’t as inundated as they’ve become nowadays. It is common knowledge that majority of all sickness could be prevented with our diet, and this includes the type of foods we feed our brains. A malnutritioned body is just as weak as a malnutritioned mind. Although we might have land, water and other resources to start living healthier but without a nourished mind that knows how to learn and is being fed wholesome knowledge there’s no hope. This is the knowledge which made grandma more of a producer than a consumer, the knowledge which made her thrift, skilled her in the supply & demand of her community’s basic needs. 

Academic reports state that about 8 out of 10 kids who graduate from high school don’t know how to learn. Children absolutely love learning at elementary level, we know that as humans we learn faster as kids but something sad happens in high school which switches most of us off . The school happens.  

There’s evidence that critical thinking and the faculty of reasoning aren’t developed by the current standard of the public schooling system as a skill.  A movement for the revolution of academia has been going on for over a decade now, from outside and from within. As a result more alternatives and supplementary solutions have developed through technology in more developed countries. These technologies have opened up the elitist world of academia and democratized resources which were previously limited to prestigious institutions; this innovation has also made the education experience much more interactive. This is all great but it still doesn’t mean anything if the people who need it the most can’t access it. In most cases the infrastructure might be there but the literacy skills to access information and consume it in a meaningful way is what lacks.

 This is another fault of an education system that was designed to produce labour force instead of entrepreneurs and self-sufficient innovators. Almost everything we learnt in township schools is irrelevant to true human development. Not to mention detrimental. 


There was no emphasis on what is now called foundational Literacies. Numeracy (not just the ability to count), scientific literacy, cultural literacy, financial literacy, and even with the eminent need for tech skills in the market township schools aren’t equipped to inculcate ICT literacy. Literacy in the aforementioned opens up one’s world to so much more. 

 The sooner one is adequately skilled in these foundational literacies the sooner a person is able to navigate the world more meaningfully. The development of some core competencies which inform how we approach complex challenges like communication, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving rely deeply on foundational literacy. It’s possible that some good teachers will get the ball rolling in the right direction but without community-based literacy programs and activities at home there’s a high likelihood of the child not making it out of the circle of poverty. In most functional societies institutions of learning aren’t limited to the academic system and its skewed admission requirements which let only a few in. There’ no denying the great vacuum of moral qualities which often go beyond the dimension of any public school to inculcate. The vacuum echoes at churches, homes, schools, politics and all spheres of township society. 

If I don’t romanticize black people’s ability to survive harsh poverty in the townships I’ve lived in, the bankruptcy  of characteristics and qualities such as leadership,community, initiative, social and cultural awareness, empathy and persistence has made them immensely valuable due to their higher demandA school curriculum is not a magic wand to the problems of learning, but some substantial leadership in education would help. 
Literacy programmes aren’t just about ability to read and write. It has to do with cultivating of minds to independently function, create or identify opportunities and explore their potential. It’s no secret that the gap between the rich and poor is maintained by the sanctioned ignorance of the majority. We must be kept preoccupied with the most basic of concerns that anything besides food, clothing, and shelter is a luxury. 

 In the book How Marxism Work, Chris Harman shows how necessary it is to keep the majority illiterate for a capitalist state to thrive. 

“The majority of the earth’s population were too busy scratching the soil for a meagre living to have time to develop systems of writing and reading, to create works of art, to build ships to trade, to plot the course of the stars, to discover the rudiments of mathematics, to work out when rivers would flood or how irrigation channels should be constructed. These things could only happen if some of the necessities of life were seized from the mass of the population and used to maintain a privileged minority which did not have to toil from sunrise to sunrise.”

Where to from here:

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as the “ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts”. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society. Source: Wikipedia

Okay, with this above definition in mind the UNESCO rates 770 million adults as illiterate in the world, 20% of whom are in Sub-Sahara Africa. South Africa & Zimbabwe score above 80% in adult literacy, whilst the region of Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, and Ethiopia, have adult literacy rates below 50%

One of the indicators of human development has always been literacy, but with the global illiteracy being halved between 1970 and 2010 from 40s to 80s in percentage other studies have begun to inform the broader scope of indicators. There’s definitely much more opportunity for the less developed world to improve literacy rates due to the effects of globalization, this has also increased the demand for knowledge-based workers. I do believe that the bulk of the work rests on the public education system but still acknowledge that our governments are grossly incapacitated to carry such a burden, and therefore must explore nonconventional literacy initiatives to prepare more people for the skills demand of future economies.

The literacy improvement project is the responsibility of non-governmental organs, the first and most important being the family. If the family is dysfunctional the next best option should be an organ which is driven by forces within the community. The idea of community has changed to groupings based on interests more than demographics, so this makes for greater opportunity for peer education channels to be created. For example if 20 of us living in different parts of Soweto are interested in reading it’s easier to form an organisation around that interest than canvassing for members from one geographic area which might yield less than 20 people. 

There’s greater access to skills transfer than we think, a bunch of courses available online and organisations offering training and mentorships at no cost. This only needs champions to curate these resources according to an identified need per region or community. 

Our government departments can’t be left out of the equation, the quality of education taught at township schools must be challenged, and the methodologies must be rid of. E.g. Afrikaans being used as the only secondary-additional language in “good schools” is a colonial exclusion tactic that must be addressed. 

Professor Ken Robinson suggests that the archaic hierarchy of subjects which put maths and science at the top and creative subjects at the bottom must be completely done away with. Simply because in the last 3 decades evidence shows we’ve needed more creative solutions to problems created by the less creative people at the top. 

South Korea according to the world economic forum is a starling example of how early literacy program investments have direct impact in the economy. They’ve broken it down to a measurable science, ensuring a national return on investments by ensuring that children and young adults are fully literate for them to contribute much to society and participate in the economy productively. 

 We must rid our countries of the old capitalist rule of keeping people stupid so they’re easier to use as tools. The violence, deaths, disease and general instability which always results from this fascist way doesn’t make for a sustainable governing of a country. The wellness of a people is directly linked to the wellness of the country and how women, the first teachers are treated. 

Copyright Daliwonga Pantshwa

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Errm. Prentious can’t 

Kundalini ngumbilini credo Mutwa pointed out 
I had 5 gigabytes of Occult literature in my hard drive 

But it was a Zulu shaman who made it all seem like unneseccesary complications of the supernatural simplistic 

Then MF Doom proved him right 

The highest science married function and form minimalistic 

I never finished Steve Biko’s serminal work at one go 

and I’ve never owned Tshirt with his face or Che Guevara 

Everything I wore was a hand me down from my richer cousins 

I’m lying 

I actually preferred plain clothes to escape stereotypes/ I missed a lot of busses due to my allergy for the hype 

anything endorsed by a majority automatically became suspect to me as if great art can never have mass appeal

Too much of a purist 

It’s inconceivable to me how a lifestyle can exist incongruent with the rhetoric you cherish 

Room for everyone when we building a civilization 

Mystics, healers, soldiers, hunters, farmers and artisans 

Preachers, Teachers and others 

An evolved mind can master 360 degrees but for now one or two will do to navigate from my bed to work everyday 

There’s only one number and every other is a variation of itself refracted by zero 

It’s annoying how you loose the attention you try to pay the self-styled sage in exchange for his wise nuggets

I keep them as friends but unfollow their posts on Facebook because their reactionary consciousness doesn’t exist in the absence dogmatic delusions of grandeur

They say blacks suffer from self hate because they loved whites too much it hurt them

I laugh at shit like that because I never met a black person that knows themselves enough to hate  
Insert deejay scratches and cuts

Here 

Insert breaks and cuts by the deejay, here 
All mystical secret society rites of passage have rituals of access which require great sacrifice from prospect initiates

You can’t even sacrifice a habit you picked up in high school because you thought it made you cool 

Don’t tell me your hair makes you more Afrikan, your beared makes you more of a man

It’s on the other side of that barbaric thought you’ll finally be awake 

I promise you testing me is a mistake you’ll gravely regret to ever make, bring your best evidence to a forum I’ll break your decorum with a seraphim’ feather in debate 

As a teen I often found myself lost in a monastery practicing laughing therapy with ascended masters 

The cost of trading virtues for monetary value is the lowest form of prostitution 

A hooker bought me a drink once in Durban as she schooled me on the principles of self deceit in the name of upholding societal expectations,

She said nobody’s going to feed your children when you’re dead 

Forget your ideals once you have someone depending on you unless you can help it, I’ve been going to titty bars since trying to find her 

Fuck, 

This I why I have no patience for conversation about Atlantis and lost scrolls of dead Egyptians when you can’t connect that to how you going to raise the dead today 

Another premise for argument that is faulty is the almighty Christian deity,

Parenting: Home wall Chalkboard to avoid beating kids over doodles 

Kids will be kids right? They’re wired to learn about the world through imitation, adopting, invention or exploring every surface using their senses depending on age. One study finds that all kids are born creative geniuses by virtue of being human beings, it is our parenting which either reinforces or kills that creative spark. I don’t suppose you still subscribe to the unimagiative stereotypical thinking that creativity is limited to artistic talents. The World Economic Forum has an article about skills they predict will be critical for humans to thrive in any career field  we pursue from 2020 going onwards. One of them is Creative Literacy which consists of Creative Problem Solving. 

There a many ways to enhance or harness you child’s natural creativity. From simple things like encouraging dancing(no too much like we darkies do), being creative around them to allowing some guided freedom to express themselves without fear of being beaten to a pulp. This isn’t funny because I’ve seen people blacksam  their toddlers for the most amazing reasons. Like, yo!

The Home wall Chalkboard 

“We don’t stop playing because we’re old, we get old because we stop playing.”  Regardless of your age there’s always some use for a chalkboard wall; from weekly diet plans, to-do lists to mind-maps we can all use a cool black wall in the house. The best part about home chalkboards is that you can Do-It-Yourself in three to four simple steps. 

Instead of being punitive and curative(waiting for sh*t to happen then coming up with a solution)  you can prevent fighting with your kids over the preservation of a boring peach walls by creating a space everyone can benefit from. That’s if you’re fortunate enough to own the house or don’t mind repainting when you leave your rented shelter. I know most black mellenials and young parents aren’t at that home owner level yet, but best believe #WeAreComingForEverything. 



How 

Simply google how to create a home chalkboard wall, a couple of DIY sites will come up.  They’ll have all the resources & instructions you need. What’s cool is that chalkboard paint already exists and most hardwares stock them, plus there’s all types of chalkboard ideas on the interweb. Go ahead and get started.  Good luck.     

Peace 

I’m on the phone. Working. #iOS productivity 

I doubt there’s anyone who uses their device as productively as I do anywhere in South Africa. 

There are thousands of smartphones in the market but there are really two mobile operating systems which are the basis for most purchase decisions. I was a late Blackberry user, I loved it. The functions of a computer in my palm was truly empowering, I didn’t need to go to a stuffy Internet cafe in Braamfontein where you’d spend half your time waiting for Internet Explorer to launch and the other half opening a simple html version of Google. This was quite an achievement by Blackberry; document processing, emails, unrestricted downloads, pre-whatsapp Instant Messaging was all good for us poor people especially. The app world wasn’t so fresh though, even back then you could see RIM was doomed. 

I migrated to iOS almost naturally as I was already sold on Mac at design school.  I saw some skating footage shot on iPhone, got attracted by the sexy design of the handset. We did some research about the intergration between hardware and software that makes for a far more fluid, secure and stable experience which you’d appreciate if you realize how much of a role your mobile plays in your life. 

The user interface was/is beautiful, almost transparent, the first buttonless phone and the first to make so many traditionally tedious functions seamless and intuitive. These mofoz had done their research, they’d studied the human mind and placed everything where your brain expected it to be and made it work how an intelligent life would. It was no doubt that the hardware was awesome, a great platform for app developers to really go wild. Go wild they did, the AppStore had more apps than the Android Playstore (and paid more people) and due to security hoops you’d jump to get an app on iOS there was a guarantee of the app being reliable. I was also by the revolutionary backstory to how Steve Jobs changed the music industry with iTunes. (I blame record label monopoly for the success of idiots we call artists today.) 

Most apps also played well with each other, the native apps weren’t hard to setup and had a secondary feature that came in handy like how they “hyperlink” a number, address or date and offer options to add/call/text that number, open that address in maps or check your calendar from wherever you’re at. It was truly the first to give us the ability to share any content across most platforms right from where you’re at without copying and pasting…

 

My iPhone 4s is a digital Frankenstein; I’ve broken the display twice and replaced my self, the battery has been replaced twice, headphone and speaker modules aren’t geniune  Apple replaceable parts. This is primarily because Apple doesn’t ship parts to anyone but Apple stores.  I managed to find the most decent parts supplier in the country down in dirty Durban though. 


If you see me on my iPhone don’t assume I’m chatting or playing on some social media app. I’ve ctually removed all of them from my device when I discovered they’re the biggest battery hogs, and serious weapons of mass distraction.  I think no body uses their device more productivily than I do, in the country.  In my tax bracket. 🤘🏽💪🏾😁 Typical daily uses include but not limited to;

  1. Once a week I check if the #AppOfTheWeek offer isn’t worth getting
  2. Edit WordPress blogs 
  3. Compose, Collaborate on documents via Google Docs, and arrange Google Drive 😊
  4. Read articles I saved in my reader lists or iBooks ealier 
  5. Compose, edit or reply to emails (switching between signatured accounts easily) 
  6. Composing step-by-step guides for my Tech clients 
  7. Editing images for a number of marketing reasons 
  8. Designing vector graphics on apps like Assembly
  9. And other traditional productivity stuff like calendaring, task lists in wunderlist, updating the address book, and updating my profile on networks like LinkedIn.

The above are just what I’ve sucked out my thumb, I believe the hallmark of productivity is being able to do anything with great ease and in good time.  iOS is awesome because of little gestures and invisible features which you may take for granted until you have to use a less elegant operating system like  android. 

Peace