An utopian education system: Speculating for the South African context When trying to associate the word ”utopia”, words such as perfection, purity and idealness comes to mind. When defining the word, it is described in the Oxford Dictionary (2010) as “an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect”. A utopia can be regarded as “wishful images in the mirrors”, or “daydreams of that which is not yet” (Halpin, 2003). One can only wonder how a utopian society would look when all the ideals are met in the future, it is within human nature to dream about possibilities and to imagine a world where wishes and dreams seem to be unrealistic are achieved and preferences granted. Applying this perception to the state of the South African education system, one can assume than a utopian system would be flawless. A scenario can be developed where teachers anticipate the best methods to employ, which underpin high achievements and immense success (Halpin, 2003). A question that can be put to mind: Is the state of utopia universal, where all related parties have the same view of what is necessary for our country? Or is it the utopian state of being unique to the individual? Let us assume the current state of the South African education is in dystopia, meaning a society in which everything is bad as described in the Oxford Dictionary (2010). Crises that the education system face, include a widespread lack of funding and resources, staff that are under qualified and lack the driving force and motivation. There are also a number of schools that are not productive. These difficulties are only the tip of the iceberg that contributes to the present state of affairs. A clear occurrence of separation is also present in terms of privilege within our society. Certain groups, such as model-C schools are accustomed to a schooling setup which is well resourced and that provides rich learning environments without any significant, negative sociological influence. Others in the disadvantaged position are exposed to the severe reality of impoverished education. Admitting that there is a problem is the first step to realize that requirements are not met. In the hope of developing a school system that represents a utopian education, one can think about possible goals or aims that one would like this society to meet. General expectations might include that a society could become united through the process of education. In Burbules et. Al (2006) it says that this kind of speculation is not aimed at finding immediate solutions, but rather to hypothesize about future change and reformation. In a utopian state, all teachers would be over qualified to teach their respective expertise. Each teacher would possess the ability to provide much needed insight through their knowledge, while being masterful educators. In South Africa, one cannot say whether the formal education that the teachers received is valid and correct for teaching in schools. Learning would take place in a positive and stimulating environment. Learners would be engaged by their presence and will not be bored by the subjects being taught as they will be motivated to learn and eager to gain experiences that would improve their knowledge. In terms of have the proper learning material, such as textbooks, adequate classrooms and resources, will all be freely available to them. Quality education will be provided and standards will be upheld. There is a great concern in South Africa regarding the distribution of textbooks. Being situated in the Western Cape, one can say we are in a more privileged situation than other provinces such as in the Eastern Cape. In a utopian society this would not be a problem. Yet, even in an instance without textbooks, educators should be able to display their knowledge and abilities to create opportunities for learning to take place successfully. In an ideal environment, learning could take place in a physically safe...
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Halpin, D. (2003) ‘Hope, utopianism and educational renewal’, The encyclopaedia of informal education. ]Online]: www.indef.org/biblio/hope.htm. 20 March 2013
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