Geography 400 Class Blog
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Geography 400 Class Blog
Class project for Geography 400
Curated by Mr. Rodrigues
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Rescooped by Mr. Rodrigues from Geography Education!

NYTimes Video: Apartheid Haunts South Africa's Schools

NYTimes Video: Apartheid Haunts South Africa's Schools | Geography 400 Class Blog |
Celia Dugger reports from the Kwamfundo School near Cape Town on South Africa's struggling public education system.


This poignant clip shows that South Africa may be in a post-apartheid era, but most certainly not a post-racial era as schools are as deeply divided as ever. 



Can we ever really say that apartheid or other racist forms of discriminatory government are ever really gone? While on paper it's been 18 years since the democratic elections heralded he beginning of “equality” can it be said that there has been a true sea change? The rules of apartheid didn’t simply dissolve overnight – the teachers that are currently educating the newly “equal” were themselves educated under a system that promoted “black African” or “coloured” people as best suited to hard labour and service industries.

When the educators are not all “engaged” in the school and students, it will have a negative impact on the quality of education. The statistic where many teachers come in late or simply don’t show up at all shows that the students themselves, while suffering, have a solution: teach it themselves. In the education system that we are indoctrinated into would a student be held accountable for educating his or her peers in lieu of a teacher? Of course not.

There is another shocking statistic: less that 50% graduate high school and a smaller minority ever goes on to higher education. In Rhode Island, Central Falls is often seen as the “worst” performing school district, but if InfoWorks 2012 is correct 70.3% of students graduate high school, with a further 1.2% completing a GED program. What would our country look like if only 50% of our students graduated? Would they feel that they had "won freedom?"

Via Seth Dixon
Joshua Mason's curator insight, March 19, 2015 1:14 PM

It's difficult to overcome something as oppressive as colonial rule and apartheid. South Africa's schools are still trying do so in a post-apartheid era. Judging from this video, the students have the desire to learn and better themselves to become what the country needs in order to succeed but the teachers and education system itself lacks the desire. I loved seeing the that some of the students actually step up and take charge of the class to help them learn. It's difficult to educate youth if the teachers have no desire to do so and you can't expect the students to move on to college and become a doctor or a chemist if they are unable to pass their science class. It amazed me that with all the struggles these students were going through in their personal lives, they were upbeat and ready and willing to learn.


Also, the singing impressed. Not because they were good, but I imagined trying to get a class of 15 year old students in America that were not taking a specifically music class to sing. I could only imagine the groans and refusal to participate from them!

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 6:28 PM

Watching this video makes me glad that I live where I do, it also makes me feel bad for those that are not as lucky as myself and other students of colleges and universities. these students in South Africa's schools are not getting a proper education, the teachers sometimes do not show up, so in some cases the students will assume position and teach those who do not understand the material. It is also sad to know that there are so many out there with great ambitions for their lives and because of their poor education and understanding of subjects, they are failing and might not be able to reach their goals for life. It is good to see though there is a teacher that gets the kids engaged everyday  as a morning warm up to sing. 

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 3:06 PM

what i dont understand is how south africa can be on such an upward trend which motivation and nationalism but the rest of africa just refuses to get on the same track. the success of south africa and their constantly improving country should be motivation and a model for the rest of the continent.

Rescooped by Mr. Rodrigues from Geography Education!

Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal

Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal | Geography 400 Class Blog |
Workers at an ailing paper mill in Siberia are clinging to their jobs in the face of financial pressure and criticism from environmentalists.

The environment, industry and politics play key roles in this story of an old style Soviet mono-town on Lake Baikal.  Monotowns had planned economies that revolved around one industry and today many of these are struggling in the post-Soviet era.  While the particulars of the political situation are a bit dated, the overall issue is still quite relevant to understanding Russia today.   

Tags: Russia, industry, labor, environment, economic, water, pollution, environment modify, unit 6 industry.

Via Seth Dixon
Mr. Rodrigues's insight:

Even though I lived through the dissolution of the USSR, it's hard to imagine a world where the government would create an entire industry, whiunjust has no means of sustainability without the government feeding supplies and consuming the products. 


This when coupled with the environmental damage done by simply using the lake as a dumping ground shows that while the "short game" mig have looked rosy to outsiders, the "long game" wasn't even an afterthought for those in charge.

Matt Ramsdell's curator insight, November 25, 2015 2:31 PM

This mill on Lake Biakal was created in the soviet era. This was created and made a increasing well place to work with the promise of a bright future for its workers. Instead when it comes to the post soviet era its a failing community. Not because of the workers but because of the era that they live in. The age of environmentalists. because of this the mill and its workers are suffering. Many of the people that had moved there to work in the mill in the 60's with a promise of a bright future. However today the people who originally moved there and the descendents are paying the price for the soviet promise. If the mill were to forever close then the people of the area would basically have no life and future. They wouldnt even have enough money to move out of look for jobs.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 1:28 PM

Seeing this video and the lack of human development in this small town is astounding. They are destroying a lake and the environment about them, they do not care though. Unfortunately, they have to not care about the environment, they are so desperate for work to make money to live and support themselves and family, that they are willing to do what it takes to keep their jobs at the mill. The workers and citizens of the area know about the consequences of the pollution, they know it needs to be taken care of, but with the depravity they have, they have to. They are faced with a situation no one want to be in... work and destroy the environment so they have money to live, or be without life necessities. 

Louis Helyes's curator insight, October 10, 2016 2:12 PM

This video talks about a paper mill in Russia. It is saying that environmentalists are pressuring the mill to close down due to the environmental impact that the paper mill is doing to the surrounding area, such as killing the crops, trees and plants. It also talks about them losing their jobs because they may be unable to find other jobs in their area.

Rescooped by Mr. Rodrigues from Geography Education!

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

Taking Root tells the dramatic story of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement ...


Community, agriculture, gender, politics and the environment... it's all here in this inspiring clip.  


APR: It's good to see that, despite the repression, Wangari Maathai maintained her vision - and contributed to reforms in the government. Her goal of "reforesting" will also benefit the entire planet, and truly survive as a legacy to her country and people.

Via Seth Dixon
Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 13, 2014 11:31 AM

Maathai is an incredible woman. Her efforts are improving the environment and agriculture in Africa. Another interesting note on her story is that she partnered with a Norwegian group to start the greenbelt movement, showing how globalization can also apply to shared efforts to do good.

Edgar Manasseh Jr.'s curator insight, March 19, 2015 1:56 PM

This is an incredible peace of Wangari Maathai, who is from the same country i am from Kenya, and she had a powerful movement from a simple act of planting trees in hope of helping her environment, and women was looked at as a fool and looked down upon, she is an icon and vision able leader amongst most Kenyan women today. She created a path for most of the young girls and had her clear message was to protect your environment, create paths and a future for yourself, she is an icon and her movement will continue to impact not only my life but others globally.

Joshua Mason's curator insight, March 31, 2015 8:22 PM

Land is a pretty valuable thing. As are civil rights. When a women, a gender traditionally looked upon as inferior in Kenya, takes a bunch of other women and starts a movement to plant trees so they could better the lives of all in the country, she tends to be looked down upon by the government. Maathai even attracted the attention of the Kenyan President who dismissed her as just some women. Her tree planting initiative eventually lead to nationwide movements that lead to demise of that very president that dismissed her movement as a waste of time and effort.


When we watched this clip in class, I was amazed by not only her bravery to stand up to such a ruler but by her devotion to something so simple as wanting to plant trees so the people of Kenya had food to eat and fuel to cook with.