South Africa has one of the world’s worst education systems

South Africa has one of the world’s worst education systems

In an article printed by The Economist they make a very bold remark regarding the education of South Africa, calling it “Bottom of the Class.” The article is filled with many research numbers out lining the discrepancies found within education in the country. Some are the following numbers found:

  • Only 37% of children starting school go on to pass the matriculation exam
    • out of those 37% only 4% earn a degree
  • 27% of pupil who attended school for six years cannot read
  • Out of 57 countries tested in the International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) it dame near the bottom of its various rankings
    • This is show in a chat presented below where South Africa had over 60% of students with test scores below 400 in a 500 average graph
  • The discrepancies in test scores among the top 20% school and the rest is larger than in almost every single other country
    • For every 200 black students only one does an engineering degree
    • for every 200 white students 10 get an engineering degree

The reason behind this post is that segregation caused by Apartheid in South Africa caused for the segregation system of their education causing black pupils to suffer even more than the res of the country. During Apartheid, schools were divided into white and colored. The white schools held facilities, professors, and instruments far better than in the colored school. There was this idea of the colored man as a servant and production maker, but not as an equal. that is why the teaching of math and sciences was not included in their education during this period of Apartheid. Which is a mistake that still follows them in current times.

The Economist TIMSS Scores

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Cafe Discussion Group Final Post

Scribe: Allie

Louise, Tao, Allie

In our last meeting we discussed the concept of media hegemony. We talked about how it can relate to all different types of things.

  • Gender norms
  • Steorytypes
  • How people want you to act
  • Countries ideologies

We also talked about how one country could be considered a hegemony. We all agreed that the United States was a hegemonic power. This is because of the way that it influences other cultures. Their ideologies are seen across all different types of cultures world wide. The United States perpetuates these ideologies through structures like mass media and education. Through the use of these structures other countries consent to these ideas subliminally and they become engrained as part of the norm.

We also discussed the idea of counter hegemony. This term comes to play because people do not agree with the original hegemonic ideals that have been set. (Think gender and race)

U.S. cultural hegemony depends in part on how well media, government, and other dominant institutions popularize beliefs and organize practices that promote individualism and consumerism. Corporate dominance and market values reign only through the consent of the majority, which, for the time being – finds material, political, and cultural benefit from existing social relations. As deep social contradictions undermine brittle hegemonic relations, the subordinate majority – including blacks, women, and workers will seek a new cultural hegemony that overcomes race, gender, and class inequality. (

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Research Post 10


Advertisements have become a tool used to bolster different hegemonic ideologies and due to the rise of globalization, values and norms that are distinct in one culture are now prevalent in other cultures across the world.


Although the Marx, Gramsci, and Hall provided their theories before the start of the second century, they are very much relevant to the way in which advertisements perpetuate cultural norms and values. Within society today, Western countries are seen as a hegemonic force. These countries place specific values on a pedestal for people to follow. Gender norms for both men and women are an example of hegemonic values that have been highlighted in advertisements in subtle ways across the world. However, even though Chinese advertisements have been infiltrated by American norms, the ads still depict traditional cultural elements. Even though hegemony plays a big role in shaping the facets of a culture, some elements cannot be redefined. Advertisements in both countries also prove that a higher class is persuading the way people think. Within modern day society we must question what we are really seeing in media and within advertisements. We must not subject ourselves to particular stereotypes about how people are to act and behave. Society should no longer consent to everything they see without questioning it first.  It is quite clear that advertisements are used as a tool for highlighting different hegemonic ideologies among cultures. It is also evident that globalization has caused the overlap of generic cultural norms across the world. Therefore, to maintain the authenticity of different cultures and to ensure equality among everyone, one must not be submissive to ideals presented within the media; one must not conform and subject themselves to ideals that a “ruling class” wants us to follow. When one begins the fight the pressures expected of society, a culture of originality begins.



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Research Post 9

Coke ads


Different patterns in advertisements

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Research Post 8

Differences in advertisements

Cultural differences:

Cultural differences do not only make people think differently, but also cause people to communicate differently. From previous research, it is known that China has a collectivistic culture (Triandis, 1990) and that United States has an individualistic culture (Hofstede, 1984). With this in mind, many people assume that Chinese and Americans always act according to their cultural values, even though cultural values do not predict individual behavior all the time. In addition, with societal changes, it is possible for cultural values to shift over time. Hofstede (2001) said that “cultures, especially national cultures, are extremely stable over time…change comes from the outside, in the form of forces of nature or forces of human beings: trade, conquest, economical or political dominance, and technological breakthroughs” (p. 34). With the economical and technological changes in China after the open door policy, the younger generations in China have made a gradual shift to become more individualistic than the older generation (Zhang & Shavitt, 2003).


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Research Post 7

Advertisements within china

The history of Chinese advertising in the broad sense can be traced back to the Song dynasty when stores used signs and words to advertise services (Wang, 2008). In the 1920s and 1930s, advertising in Shanghai was already a dynamic industry, with foreign advertising agencies and brands competing with the Chinese counterparts prior to World War II. (

In the past few decades, Chinese advertising experienced exponential development. Foreign advertising agencies urged their global clients to enter China in 1979, right after the country opened its door to the outside world. Now foreign brands and advertisements have become an inherent part of the daily lives of Chinese consumers. (

Cultural values very different then american values

  • Collectivism !
  • Family oriented
  • Traditional belifs
  • Gender norms

Gender norms similar in american advertisements, but Chinese advertisements are due to their cultural background

* A prominent theme in Chinese advertising is the selling of nationalism and cosmopolitanism. Both foreign and Chinese brands resort to the promotion of these concepts in their ads. However, there are some subtle differences given their different origins, perceptions, and relationships with modernity. One obvious difference is that Chinese brands are more likely to resort to patriotism or nationalism as a selling strategy. Chinese brands such as Li Ning (a Chinese sportswear brand) and Hai’er (a home appliance brand) have long been selling national pride in marketing their products. Li Ning, in particular, has been inherently associated with China’s Olympic glory and “Chinese-ness.” Hai’er, on many occasions, has sold its foreign expansion as a successful story in the Chinese market not only to endorse the quality of its products, but also to claim itself as a pioneer in increasing China’s global influence. The selling of nationalism is about the reconstruction and reinforcement of traditional images, symbols, rituals, myths, and customs in the context of China’s search for national identity and modernity in an increasingly globalized world. Advertisers appropriate and reinterpret Chinese symbols, images, rituals, historical heroes, and China’s anti-imperialist history to create a narrative of patriotism, loyalty, and national glory.



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Research Post 6



Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, and Stuart Hall are all theorist’s who proposed ideas that help to explain the hegemonic nature of ideologies within advertisements. Karl Marx came up with the term Marxism. Marx argued that, in a Capitalist society, there is a “profit motive.” These profits are earned by exploiting the worker (Stewart). For example, a product costs more to buy the the cost to make the item and pay the workers (Stewart).  He argued that in a capitalist society power differentials are considerable and society becomes aimed at maintaining power for those in charge (Stewart). He also argued that different social classes, ruling and working, are made up of varying levels of both social and economic power. In turn, this could lead the ruling class to exploit the working class. He also argued that this could essentially cause resentment and increased tensions between the classes which could lead to conflict and war (Stewart). Marx believed that certain ideological structures, such as school’s and mass media, were built into society which helped to support the power difference (Stewart). Antonio Gramsci, a follower of Marx, was a witness to the failure of Marxist theory – the working classes never overthrew the ruling classes (Dhakal). He built upon the theory of Marxism and coined the term hegemony. According to Gramsci, hegemony revolves around the “cultural and ideological means” through which the dominant, or ruling class, retain their dominance on ‘subordinate classes’ by building ‘spontaneous’ mass ‘consent’ (Dhakal). This is directly related to the ideological structures Marx spoke about. Gramsci goes even further to suggest that ideology works only when it is able to relate to the ‘common sense’ of the people and influence them for change” (Dhakal). Gramsci points out the fact that media is a powerful tool that affects society and culture; not just individuals. Elaborating off Gramsci’s theories, Stuart Hall theorized many issues pertaining to hegemony and cultural studies. He specifically looked at the way hegemony and the media are related. In todays society, we cannot ignore the part that mass media plays in shaping the “cultural sphere of our society” (Dhakal). Hall writes, “’Public information, intercommunication and exchange’ of the ‘social knowledge’ in society now solely depends upon mass media (Hall, 1977:340).  He analyzes the media through a “hegemonic framework” (Dhakal).  Hall emphasizes Gramsci’s theory of consent, saying “Military force might not always be the best possible way to gain power; in fact it is achieved not with ‘legal and legitimate compulsion’ but by ‘winning active consent’ of the subordinate class” (Hall, 1982: 85) He also stated that “public trust media because ideologically they project independence and impartiality from the political or economic interests of the state. However, media existing within a state are obliged to follow the ‘formal protocols of broadcasting’ and depend on ‘the form of state and political system which licenses them’” (Dhakal ). This brings up the debate if the media is driven by the state. While looking at both American and Chinese advertisements, keep in mind the position these theorists take and how advertisements can become an agent that the ruling class uses to instill ideals and norms within our society.

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Rinzin: Cafe Discussion 3


GS 302: Cultural Studies

The Islamic Veil and the Global Politics and Gender by Stoddard and Collins

I thought this was a really interesting topic which shows explains the transformation of what hijab originally was meant for to what it means to modern day.

Although this topic is about the current meaning to veil and how gender plays a role in the politic, I can’t help but think about an experience I had while flying from India to America. While I was waiting at the Delhi Airport in India to come home to the U.S, my mom who has blonde hair and blue eyes and I  found a seat next to a Middle Eastern couple with heavy black veil and the male had the Turban on. Seconds later, I realized they were praying at the airport. Couple of people around us left which were Americans. Still to this day I am not sure if it was because of the prayers or if they had to leave for their fight but after they finished, it was me and my mom and a Indian couple in that room. After their prayer, they instantly made the effort to talk to me and my mom. In their broken English, they managed to say that they were on a vacation. They also asked where I am from and what I study. Through this discussion, I realized one thing which is right after their prayer, they felt the need to make sure to let us know that they were friendly and good people. I am not sure if I made the assumption that they felt the need but if it was the case, I still to this day think about what people who veil and share the middle eastern feature have to go through during their travels.

This essay about Islamic Veil explains that what is meant as a simple traditional wear in the Muslim culture now signifies much more than that. Due to how Global North treat people who veil and Muslims, and the spread of fear which affects Muslims in school and social standing, the veil is now a symbol of resist and identity. The story which I really was appalled by as a student is the fact that schools teacher and adult give young girls with hijab on hard times but in some case banning what is meant to be part of religious identity. Conflict like this have transformed what is meant to be a simple wear of tradition is now a symbol of freedom. Not too long ago in the United State, a teacher filmed herself pulling a students hijab down and post it on snapchat. This kind of act shows that there is hate within even professionals such as teachers against wearing hijab. If anything, this angers the family members and the community which in result wears hijab to show that this is their freedom and they should be able to do what they want as long as they are not harming anyone.

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Rinzin: Research Post 10

Dark is beautiful: the battle to end the world’s obsession with lighter skin by Mary-Rose Abraham

Dislike of one’s own skin tone starts right when a child comes into the world, with their own family and classmates and teachers. May-Rose mentions that family members are a huge part of stemming hate with the child’s own skin color once they grow up. One girl name Pooja Kannan, 27 years old, shares her story of growing up discriminated which led to her being obsessed with whitening cosmetics when she grew up. Growing up, she had a healthy natural brown tan, but her aunt would constantly tell her that “you have turned black” and in some cases the idea that if you were light skin, you would be much prettier. Kannan said she felt insecure her whole life even in career and love life. Kanan shares that when she was getting ready to go out, she would remember what her aunts and others say and would put on more makeup”. This is a powerful line that she shares, which I think affects a lot of other Indian girls. Not only was she discriminated and made uncomfortable about her skin tone at home, she also faced discrimination and insecurity at her work too. Kannan is a dancer and she mentions that the fair, skinny and tall girls were placed in front of the show while no matter how good of a dancer you are, the darker and shorter girls were placed in the back. This biased and discrimination is widely affected in India. As a small girl growing up in India, my music teacher favored the ones with lighter skin students over the dark skin. I was put in the light section, however, the others who had a lighter skin were more favored. These are the adults I looked up to while growing up. As a child, I did not understand what whats wrong with good. Although, I was lucky that I got the chance to be educated and away from that environment, but my other peers who also grew up looking up to people like music teacher share the same narrow mind about skin color. This is a sad truth that keeps repeating itself reproducing generation of people obsessed with white cosmetics and biased.

India is a nation who is obsessed with being white. It is no question that darker skin Indians face discrimination and goes far as racism as sometimes is found systematically such as career and in education. In school, some of the textbooks contain a picture of a girl with white skin and are labeled beautiful where dark skin picture girl is labeled ugly. The problem that Mary-Rose brings out that I also noticed while doing this research is that no one in India is talking about this issue as well as acknowledge that there is an issue surrounding skin tone.

Women of Worth is an NGO that stands up against the bias and unequal treatment in India due to skin color. They launched a campaign called ‘Dark is Beautiful’ in 2009. The founder of Women of Worth mentions that it is a campaign that seeks inclusivity and not an anti-white campaign. The campaign reaches out to others by running workshops with media and literacy and advocacy program in schools.


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Rinzin: Research Post 9

All’s Fair in Love and Cream: A Cultural Case Study of Fair & Lovely in India by Natasha Shevde

Fair & lovely and Poverty

Fair & lovely is popular brand mostly in small Villages. Through this reading, Shevde teaches us the process how HLL make Fair & Lovely the next big thing to happen in small villages. Even though skin whitning and products like Fair & lovely are in high demand in India, the process, in my opinion, is very manipulative.

Fair & Lovely claims their main mission is to empower women through confidence and help the users gain a better social position.

Once Hill target a village, the Fair & Lovely key team identifies the village and look for the person who is in charge or has a high social position. After the person with the high position in the village is identified, he points out a didi (sister) who also has a good social position within her society. She is then asked to wear Fair & Lovely and promote the cream to her friends and other housewives meaning essentially to attract a crowd with her new skin and promote the cream in the process to others. The reporting shows that this has significantly increased the sales of Fair & Lovely.

I think something this article doesn’t address is that rural areas are a great target for big companies like Fair & Lovely. The whole nation of India is already obsessed with being white but smaller village is an easier target. To make some assumptions, rural areas are likely to follow the tradition of the caste system. From my own experience, small villages and rural areas in India are very traditional where the people in the city are more modernized. The stigma of being dark and black associates heavily to untouchable and undesirable among people who are traditional.

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