Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Cost of Ignorance

South Africa has become a nation of idiots. Take our politicians for example. A Cabinet Minister tells us to save electricity by only switching on the hot water geyser during peak load periods. Municipalities are bankrupt, and/or providing little or no services. Politicians blame all the country's problems on racism. Yeah, right. I guess it's too much to expect a national leader to say "I don't know" in public, but what do you do at a company level?
My biggest customer runs a national call centre. The people who work there are men, mostly young. Many of them have no idea which province half the towns in the country are, and so instead of finding out or checking on a map, they guess. Customers get sent hundreds of km in the wrong direction because the idiot in the call centre is too lazy or stupid to do his job.
Another call centre has had to fire people because they can't spell. We aren't talking about place names (those are bad enough), but traffic-related words like "overtaking" or weather-related words like "raining". There is a limit to how many errors a spell-checker can catch.
Filing a police report can be an exercise in patience. There have been plenty of cases where the complainant has had to fill out the police report because the policeman can hardly write. The same is true of government departments, including the tax department.
How do you fix it? It's difficult to fire people in South Africa, so useless people get passed from one job to another. Many teachers simply shouldn't be teaching because they are nearly illiterate themselves. Many pupils are too lazy and irresponsible to learn, and expect to pass because they are "entitled" to an education.
Many companies, such as the Endurance International Group, are content to employ people who are totally under-qualified to handle "technical support" queries. Other companies, such as Microsoft, refuse to accept or acknowledge bug reports, or are too quick to blame someone or something else as the source of a problem. How do you encourage excellence and literacy in a society that tolerates mediocrity and TV dinners? I wish I knew.


Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

I would kindly like to request that you will "get on" with your disk defragment utility benchmark.

Best Regards,

Donn Edwards said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I have been distracted by work requirements and setting up a new office, and plan to start taking measurements soon.

Anonymous said...

It's off topic on this post, but many people are/were waiting for defragmentation tests.
I know that you have had job/personal/family issues and i wish you all the well, but as you know yourself you announced the "big shootout" and instead we have ended waiting for 1 - 2 years.

Just Do It! :)