Independent Education Winter 2021

20 Independent Education • Winter 21 Schooling without schools BYTIMOTHY HEWITT-COLEMAN I must admit that I had only a passing interest in the 2020 Matric results. 1 I was busy with other things and refused to be drawn in by those who would have liked to entangle me in pointless political discussions and develop an opinion on whether these results serve as evidence that the government is doing a good, bad or average job. I can tell you though, that what did catch my interest, is what I did not see. What struck me, in fact, was the absence of a widespread collapse of the matric results, in spite of the fact that for the most part of the 2020 school year, those preparing for Matric were not able to make use of the very expensive buildings we have come to think of as essential to the education system. Rather, what we saw was the incredible resolve of ordinary learners and ordinary parents and ordinary teachers as they did whatever they could with whatever they had to overcome what was by all measures and extraordinarily terrible year. School buildings during COVID-19 Architects (and others in the construction industry) found, to their dismay perhaps, that the sad fact that school buildings could not be used for the most part of 2020 did not seem to devastate learning and teaching. As architects it is hard for us to come to terms with the fact that the buildings we commit our lives to creating are not the centre around which the universe revolves! Additionally, I am still reeling from the blow to our sense of worth dealt by the #FeesMustFall campaigns of 2015 and 2016. 2 Let me explain. At that time, I was an external examiner 3 for an incredibly talented group of final year students at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) Master’s degree in architecture. 4 These students, when preparing for the examination, could not get to campus. They could not access the library, the studio or the laboratories. When it came to the exhibition and examination, the supposed climax of their year, the students were prohibited from using the architecture department’s studio space at NMU’s south campus by those This school in the New Orleans area in Louisiana, in the United States, was abandoned after Hurricane Katrina in 2012 Timothy Hewitt-Coleman

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