Renowned educationist, Professor Jonathan Jansen is a man who does not mince his words and on Friday, he spoke out against the actions of Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana, who allegedly assaulted a woman, adding that he did not belong in Parliament but should rather be sitting in prison.
“I get despondent when a guy beats down a woman and sits in a Parliament in which so many people fought for. And he is called an honourable member? Honourable se gat [Honourable’s ass],” said Jansen.
The former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, was in Port Elizabeth on Friday to launch his latest book, “Song for Sarah” which is co-authored by his sister, Naomi.
On Thursday, the Randburg Magistrate’s Court granted the 34-year-old Manana R5,000 bail.
He is facing two counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm sprouting from a weekend incident where he allegedly assaulted a woman after an argument at a Johannesburg nightclub. The case was postponed to September 13 for further investigation.
Jansen explained that the book paid tribute to his mother, for her resilience, tough love, and support which moulded him and his siblings into the people they are today.
In Jansen’s words, the book not only serves as a memoir to his own mother but also resonates with women who raise children in difficult conditions.
He recalled a holiday in Salsoneville in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas, playing soccer in the streets with his cousins while his mother sat with women in a church meeting. A woman said something that day that would stick with him forever.
“Johnny my boy when your mother was pregnant with you we also prayed for you — what hit me that day was that my mother had the women of the church put their hands on her stomach to pray for her eldest son who was not even born yet.
“We grew up with a completely different value system that no child is okay until everybody’s child is okay,” Jansen said that the problem in today’s society, is that too many children grow up not being loved and not being part of that community.
“You know what drives me nuts? When I see [the South African Democratic Teachers Union] Sadtu disrupting schools and you put your own children in a fancy model C school and then you go disrupt the township schools,” said Jansen.
On the backdrop of educational norms in South Africa, Jansen believes that the standard is just set at an all time low and becomes despondent when highlighting what the government could be doing to combat challenges.
“I get despondent because I really believe that any child can achieve and I’m not saying that as a slogan, I’m saying that because I grew up in a poor area, in a working class community and I know that the kids in school were much smarter than what I could ever be.
“Did you know last year the Minister of Basic Education condoned a 20 percent pass rate for mathematics across the board?”
Jansen said while spending time in the USA he sat with young students who achieved and imagined that children back home in the townships were just as capable.
“Don’t let anyone in education tell you that high standards is a white thing. High standards is not a white thing, it is a human thing and if you tell any child they can achieve — they will.”