Monthly Archives: March 2015

Q&A with Carole Bloch

carole bloch

The aim of the Q&A series is to get an inside look into some of South Africa’s leading education academics, policy-makers and activists. This is the twenty-third interview in the series. Carole Bloch is Director of PRAESA.

(1) Why did you decide to go into education?

As a student, I taught guitar to children, then music appreciation to preschool children. I loved this experience and found that I connected really well with little children and was fascinated by their imaginations and the way they played and thought. After my BA at UCT, it was really luck that I got to do a PGCE in the UK… a long story, but I never looked back. I loved teaching, first teens with literacy learning problems, later preschoolers who played voraciously, with everything they could get their hands on. I experienced first-hand how to facilitate reading and writing as a personally meaningful, emergent process… I’ve been a teacher, and a learner in literacy education ever since.

(2) What does your average week look like?

I am a bit of an octopus these days – I have tentacles waving about in all directions with Nal’ibali. Keeping a national campaign moving along means having an overall vision at the same time as you are involved in details. There is ongoing networking and fund raising, overseeing and informing the literacy and literary information we put out across platforms, training and mentoring programmes and of course troubleshooting technical challenges, like newspaper supplements not arriving where they should on time and supporting colleagues, dealing with payments and staffing issues. Then there is always the daily email deluge! We communicate with great rapidity which means things can happen quickly, but I sometimes feel quite alarmed by the sheer volume of messages that come my way! The evenings and early mornings are often times to catch up with reading and trying clear my head to write.

(3) While I’m sure you’ve read many books and articles in your career, if you had to pick one or two that have been especially influential for you which one or two would they be and why?

It’s hard to choose just one or two: Illich Chukovsky’s 1960 classic From 2 to 5 on the extraordinary linguistic genius of young children and all of Vivian Paley’s books, especially The Boy who would be a Helicopter on the enormous literacy learning and general educative power of imaginative play and stories and Stephen Krashen’s Power of Reading from the 1990s which summarises the research on free voluntary reading (see

(4) Who do you think are the current two or three most influential/eminent thinkers in your field and why?

There are so many. Quite a few I don’t agree with, so I won’t mention them! For me, social anthropologist, Barbara Rogoff ‘s work on children participating as cultural apprentices in communities of (reading and writing) practice is really useful when thinking about what we need to understand about how reading culture development takes place. It fit’s amazingly well with the New Literacy Studies – Brian Street and David Barton et al’s conceptions of literacy as social practice – what I like especially about her is that she makes clear that people both join communities of practice and change them by their participation, such a critical insight for South African environments (eg Rogoff 1991, 2005).

Kenneth Goodman, though sadly much vilified I think is one of the greatest thinkers about the reading  process – it is in many ways really anticipating some of the recent insights from brain research – about how the senses work in general such as Chris Frith’s fascinating 2007 book Making up the Mind, on how the brain predicts (Goodman said that “reading is a psycholinguistic guessing game” (see eg Goodman, 1967). His work also helps us to understand that the process underlying reading is the same in any language (research with languages very different from English, like Chinese shows this), and so we don’t have to get bogged down worrying about that in literacy teaching with little children. There’s a really interesting article by him and others too which contests some of the neuroscientifc claims about how children read put forward by phonics proponents like Sally Shaywitz (see I think there is so much differing ‘evidence’ that refers to teaching reading by experts in diverse fields, like linguistics, (who often tend to like to dissect languages and think when you learn to read you have to do this too) and also neuroscientists who do not necessarily understand how little children learn to read (eg Stanislas De Haene 2009). These can influence policy and have negative effects on the lives of young children – I mention some of this later.

5) What do you think is the most under-researched area in South African education?

Understanding the way babies and young children learn to speak, read and write in multilingual settings.

6)  What is the best academic advice you’ve been given?

I think two pieces of advice have stood out for me over the years – the one was from Neville Alexander who I worked closely with for two decades. In the days when very few people were working on ‘alternative’ approaches to young children’s literacy teaching, I sometimes would feel despondent when my ideas and approach seemed to fall on unresponsive ears. Neville used say “Don’t worry about what other people say or think – you know what you are doing, just get on with it”. I realised how significant a) support and b) conviction are to push on and keep going. Another person who helped me with a wise comment which I’ve never forgotten was Elsa Auerbach, an adult literacy specialist from Boston, who’s classic article also influenced me many years ago: When I asked Elsa how she would help teachers and teacher educators to deepen their literacy knowledge and understandings, given the huge disparities in education we were trying to address, she said to me very simply, that we all need the same kind of opportunities– in a nutshell to read, reflect and experience many demonstrations of good practice. This simple insight has guided me for many years as I’ve mentored others.

7) You are currently the director of PRAESA and involved with Nali’bali, for those that are unfamiliar with these organizations can you give an overview of their aims and approach and maybe some of your/their plans for the future?

PRAESA from its beginnings in 1992 was an NGO based at UCT involved in multilingual education, research, training and materials development – essentially to help transform children’s educational opportunities using the foundation of mother tongue based bilingualism. Our research and all development work has been embedded in the view that a home language or languages should be the bedrock for learning, used to deepen thinking and conceptual understanding (see Other languages can be learned and added to a child’s linguistic repertoire, rather than being replacements. The longer the home language is used, the more support the child is actually getting. As many of us are aware, this mother tongue based education has not been implemented, except for in experimental ways, I believe to the extreme detriment of the educational opportunities for the majority of children.

In 2012, we initiated the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment-campaign. This grew out of the previous twenty years of literacy research and practical work in multilingual settings which used stories and home languages for language and literacy teaching and learning. Because the story form is universal to all of us and integral to the way our minds work, the obvious route to literacy learning is to inspire a love of reading among all children. So Nal’ibali aims to nurture storytelling and reading for personal satisfaction, particularly in children, but also in the adults who are their role models and nurturers. Nal’ibali involves an ongoing collaborative effort with many partners to help put into place the conditions that support the initial and ongoing literacy development of all children irrespective of class, linguistic or cultural backgrounds. We’re doing this through mentoring, workshops and collaboration with communities, supporting reading clubs, literacy organisations and trying to elicit the support of volunteers of all ages, integrated with a media campaign and the development of multilingual literacy resources and stories. Our vision is a literate society that uses writing and reading in meaningful ways and where children and adults enjoy stories and books (and of course non-fiction too) together as part of daily life. The mission – and clearly we all need to be involved for this to happen – individuals, NGO’s, universities, government and business – is to create the conditions across South Africa that inspires and sustains reading-for-enjoyment practices ( and facebook nalibaliSA).

8) You have been heavily involved in research on early literacy in African settings, can you give us an overview of what we know about early literacy in African settings and also what we don’t know?

I can only talk about my views as to what I think we know and don’t know or somehow don’t acknowledge or value …

In a nutshell, we know that most children, irrespective of class, socio-cultural and linguistic background are capable of becoming competent, avid and creative readers and writers but that huge numbers of mainly African language speaking children don’t – and that the conditions that need to be in place for successful learning to take place are mainly in place for children of the elite only. We know that a combination of factors is involved and that these cut across home, community and school. But we don’t seem to widely appreciate the incredible importance of the ‘invisible’ literacy learning that takes place in the daily, informal community and home language ‘goings on’ of literate homes, and what it means when such learning, for whatever reasons, cannot take place.

We know that teachers ‘bring with them’ like children do, their literacy theories and practices into the classroom, and that a real stumbling block in the early years is how we still tend to train teachers to view their task as teaching skills as a priority over demonstrating and making possible the use of written language for personally meaningful reasons (This contributes to the learn to read/read to learn myth). We should know that this blocks many children off from highly effective learning strategies that could reveal them as exuberant emergent readers and writers that we expect from most young English speaking children. We don’t widely acknowledge, and maybe we don’t know, that the consequence is a cyclical one of adults tending to underestimate poor children’s capabilities in formal education situations, believing the children are struggling with ‘the basics’, when actually the struggle is that the basics of written language are being denied them!

We know that the push down from higher education is exacerbating this through the justification of curricula that package skills and knowledge in ways that override considerations about how to motivate young children ‘s enormous learning capacity. Global forces push down too – a current example is an assessment packages like EGRA, which grew from the USA ‘s DIBELS, that has caused so much heartache and stress for so many families (see The Truth About Dibels, Goodman 2006).

We know that low status and use of African languages for print functions (including the dearth of fiction and non fiction) means fewer adults are leisure readers. But we don’t widely value or address the fact that it seems extremely difficult to teach others to read when you don’t have your own repository of knowledge and stories arising from the texts you’ve read over time, to draw from – with the overwhelming effect of poor reading habits being that you tend not to have what it takes to reap the benefits from and pass on a passion for knowledge and story to others.

Given what we do know, we don’t know why government (with support from business) seems unable to invest with unflinching determination in the translation of desirable world texts, including ones from Africa, to support African publishers to produce a steady flow of the books we need and order these to stock community and school libraries …. to inspire reading and creative writing among adults and children in African languages and English and also to use in the training and mentoring of adults to grow to know and manage these collections. We also don’t know why there is an insistence on making teaching so very hard for teachers and learning difficult for the majority of children living in South Africa after grade 3 by forcing teaching in a language often not known well enough to use with dignity and depth.

9)   If you ended up sitting next to the Minister of Education on a plane and she asked you what you think are the three biggest challenges facing South African education today, what would you say?

The first is the fact that it is a tragedy that we haven’t implemented our Language in Education Policy of 1997, but that it is not too late and that this needs leadership from government and lots of information – in fact a campaign – to allow parents the opportunity to appreciate the issues involved in educating their children from a language perspective – how they would come to realise that they do not need to choose between English or African languages but that both are possible, and desirable.

The second is related and I’ve raised already – that government needs to act on the fact that until publishing in African languages is supported in a serious way, so that these languages are used in print for high status functions, including literature – and more of our adult population starts reading regularly for personal satisfaction and for pleasure, many children won’t become readers and writers in the fullest sense.

The third, if she was still listening, would be to discuss how to use literature to find practical ways to create a different ethos among us – one that promotes and encourages empathy and respect for each adult and child living in South Africa irrespective of background. We’d gather people together to generate a curriculum of shared stories for children of all ages, from South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world, which reflect the highs and lows of humanity – to support the growth of a new generation of people who reject stereotyping and prejudice, and value what we share in common, as well as our differences.

10)   If you weren’t in education what do you think you would be doing?

I’d be a professional gardener as I love growing things, or I’d be a cellist.

11) What is the most rewarding and most frustrating thing about your job?

The most rewarding thing is seeing partnerships grow that are allowing so many people across South Africa to get involved in quite relaxed ways to enjoy the substance of reading: Seeing how my colleagues inspire others is humbling. Watching how interest in books grow in people of all ages when they are motivated. Seeing sceptical and weary-looking adults put on their playful hats to communicate with children and share stories in animated ways  – this is stunning for me.

Frustrations are around how hard it can be to convince others that sometimes the most simple seeming solutions are the most profound sometimes… and of course the time it takes to get things done, mainly because we just don’t have the capacity, either human or financial – and knowing how much more SA industry and government could do to help us change the desperate situation we face in literacy education.

12)   Technology in education going forward – are you a fan or a sceptic and why?

Total fan and total sceptic! I’m a fan of making the most use of technology. In Nal’ibali, for example, we offer a growing repository of free multilingual stories and guidance etc. on web, mobi and cellphone for adults to use with children of all ages. I think that the freedom it allows to create multilingually is extraordinarily powerful and I love the potential and sometimes actual freedom to share material without the rigid constraints of traditional publishing. But I’m a sceptic about the wisdom of proclaiming paperless learning. I don’t believe we should attempt to create an either-or situation. Particularly, but by no means only – for babies and young children we still want print on paper and books. I think we need to support and nurture our publishing industry more now than ever before.

13) If you were given a R15million research grant (and complete discretion on how to spend it) what would you use it for?

I’d facilitate a major qualitative research process on various aspects of Nal’ibali: I’d like to track groups of children living in different settings from home to reading club to school over a period; document the indicators of the effects of reading for enjoyment on motivation, engagement and achievement, literacy and school learning, family dynamics etc. I know that our only glimmer of hope to persuade policy makers, linguists and many involved in education that what we are doing is essential is ‘scientific’ evidence!


Some of the others on my “to-interview” list include Veronica McKay, Thabo Mabogoane, Maurita-Glynn Weissenberg, Shelley O’Carroll, Yael Shalem, Linda Richter and Volker Wedekind. If you have any other suggestions drop me a mail and I’ll see what I can do.

Previous participants (with links to their Q&A’s) include, Johan MullerUrsula HoadleyStephen TaylorServaas van der BergElizabeth HenningBrahm FleischMary Metcalfe, Martin Gustafsson, Eric AtmoreDoron IsaacsJoy OliverHamsa VenkatLinda Biersteker, Jonathan ClarkeMichael MyburghPercy Moleke , Wayne Hugo, Lilli PretoriusPaula EnsorCarol MacdonaldJill Adler and Andrew Einhorn.

Developing an “access-to-learning” statistic: Combining access & quality in Sub-Saharan Africa


I’m currently in Washington D.C. for the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) conference of 2015. Although it was -17′ C when I landed the weather has actually been lovely and DC seems like a lovely city to live in.

On Monday I presented two papers that I co-authored with Stephen Taylor on creating a composite measure of access and quality for 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The presentation was very well received by the other delegates and a number of them have since commented on the importance of this research given where we are at cusp of the next set of post-MDG goal-setting, the “Sustainable Development Goals.” Personally I believe this is the most important research I’ve done to date, and it’s also the research of which I am most proud.

For those who would like to read the two papers I have included links below, and the PowerPoint slides can be found here. Both Stephen and I are trying to disseminate this research so if you know of anyone who might be interested in it please do forward it along to them. As always, comments and questions welcome.

Spaull, N., & Taylor, S., (2015). Access to what? Creating a composite measure of educational quantity and educational quality for 11 African countries. Comparative Education Review. Vol. 58, No. 1. (WP here).


The aim of the current study is to create a composite statistic of educational quantity and educational quality by combining household data (Demographic and Health Survey) on grade completion and survey data (Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality) on cognitive outcomes for 11 African countries: Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Doing so overcomes the limitations of earlier studies that fo- cused solely on either quantity or quality. We term the new statistic “access to literacy” and “access to numeracy” and report it by gender and wealth. This new measure combines both quantity and quality and consequently places educational outcomes at the center of the discourse.

Taylor, S., & Spaull, N., (2015) Measuring access to learning over a period of increased access to schooling: The case of Southern and Eastern Africa since 2000. International Journal of Educational Development . Vol. 41 (March) pp47-59 (WP here).


This paper examines the extent to which increased access to primary schooling in ten Southern and East African countries between 2000 and 2007 was also accompanied by increased access to actual learning. We develop a measure of access to learning that combines data on education access and learning achievement to measure the proportions of children in the population (including those enrolled and not enrolled) that reach particular thresholds of literacy and numeracy. In all countries there was greater access to learning in 2007 than in 2000. These improvements in access to learning especially benefited girls and children from poor households.

Prize-giving speech at Durban Girls High School

On Friday the 27th of March I gave the prize-giving speech at Durban Girls High School. A few people have asked me for the text so I’ve included the transcript below…



Good morning prize-winners and parents, teachers and other guests. Firstly, congratulations on being the top-achievers at one of South Africa’s best schools. This is no small feat. While this is of course in part due to your own hard work and determination, I’m sure you will agree that part of your success is due to your parents and teachers. Girls, please join me and give them both a big round of applause.

Today I want to speak to you about the Future and about “Unfinished Business”; the unfinished business of gender equality around the world, and the unfinished business of South Africa.

 Let me start with talking briefly about the ongoing struggle for gender equality around the world. When we look across the countries of the world we see that there are more girls in school than ever before in human history. Women are paid more than at any time in the past and there are also more women in leadership positions. Thankfully the voices and stories of women are starting to receive equal treatment to those of men, and most importantly, these stories are being told by women themselves and not by men on their behalf. Yet it is difficult to celebrate these achievements when women still make up the majority of the world’s unfed, unhealthy, unschooled and unpaid. In every country around the world women carry the lion’s share of the child-caring responsibility. While this is of course an immense privilege, it is one that should be chosen and not assumed. I trust that if and when you have children you will talk about this frankly with your partners – as a conversation among equals, not a forgone conclusion.

 Throughout the world women’s interests are underrepresented in society. As in all things it helps to look at those who are in the corridors of power around the world.

  • Of the 195 independent countries in the world, less than 10% are led by women.
  • Women hold just 20 percent of the seats in parliaments globally. So for every female parliamentarian there are 4 male parliamentarians.
  • Less than 5% of the FORTUNE 500 companies have female CEOs.

 When we hear stats like this we need to ask how it is that women’s interests can be properly represented when there are so few women in positions of power? We still have ridiculous situations where national panels are deciding on women’s reproductive rights and access to contraception and the entire panel is made up of men?! To decide on issues relating to women’s bodies and women’s rights?! This is insane.

It is for this reason that I agree with Hillary Clinton when she says that achieving equality for women and girls is “the great unfinished business of the 21st century.”

The benefits of including women and embracing gender equality around the world are indisputable. Research is now beginning to confirm what we have known all along – that women are more altruistic than men in their allocation of resources.  I am particularly fond of one recent study in India that showed conclusively that when women are put in charge of a village council they allocate more money to drinking water, roads and welfare programs than men in similar positions. As the researchers from Yale and MIT note “Overall, these results indicate that a politician’s gender…does influence policy decisions.”

 Equalising opportunity between men and women is not only good for women, it is also good for men. We all benefit when our relative strengths are allowed to flourish unhindered. So this is the first point of my speech – gender equality is the great unfinished business of the 21st century and it turns to you and your futures to help finish it.

The second thing I want to talk to you about is the future, but before I do I want to tell you a little bit about your school. As I am sure you already know Durban Girls High School is one of the best performing schools in this province – you regularly achieve a 100% matric pass rate and a 97% bachelor pass rate. But I thought I would go and look at the data and see just how well you do in comparison to all the other public schools in the entire country. If we look at bachelor pass rates Girls High is not only in the top 1% of schools in South Africa, it is in the top 0.5% of schools. And if we only look at the 420 “large” schools – where there are more than 200 matriculants – Girls High comes second in the entire country. Congratulations!

This is an important point to which I will return later – that you are immensely privileged to be attending this school. Your years at Girls High are putting you on firm ground as you turn to face the future. And this is a good thing because if we are honest, we have no idea what the future holds for you. Karl Fisch summarizes this wonderfully when he says that

 “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

 When this is the case you to learn to become comfortable with uncertainty and constant change. Make peace with the fact that your career is likely to change 4 or 5 times in the future and that you will need to relearn and reskill a number of times in your life. As Tofler says:


 I would now like to move a little closer to home and focus on the role of women in South Africa and talk about unfinished business here in our own beautiful country.

We have all heard about the amazing men that ushered in our South African miracle – a peaceful transition to democracy. Men like Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Ahmed Kathrada. But we have heard much less about people like Rahima Moosa, Lillian Ngoyi, and Helen Suzman.

 The women of South Africa played an incredible and often unacknowledged role in resisting and overturning apartheid. As early as 1912 Indian women in South Africa encouraged Black and Indian miners in Newcastle to strike against starvation wages, organising the first mass passive resistance campaign in the country.

 These impressive feats are often glossed over as we focus on male protagonists like Sisulu or Biko. Looking more broadly, it is important to remember that practically all of recorded human history was written by chauvinist men, side-lining the central role that women have played in nurturing and shaping the history of humanity. To give a gendered spin on Churchill’s famous quote “History is written by the victors” – or in this case, by men.


 One of the best examples of women’s involvement in resisting apartheid is the famous Women’s March which happened on the 9th of August in 1956 – the day we now commemorate with “Women’s Day”. 20,000 women marched to the seat of apartheid power – the Union Buildings in Pretoria – and presented a petition to Prime Minister Stijdom against the carrying of passes by women. This was one of the most impressive protests against the dreaded pass laws that were so characteristic of the apartheid state.

 To commemorate the occasion activists composed the now historic slogan “Now you have touched the women, You have struck a rock.” Or in it’s more recent version “You strike a woman, you strike a rock.”

 Let me quote one historian and paint a picture of this momentous day:

 “Many of the African women wore traditional dress. Others wore the Congress colours of green, black and gold. Indian women were clothed in white saris. Many women had babies on their backs and some domestic workers brought their white employers’ children along with them. Throughout the demonstration the huge crowds displayed a discipline and dignity that was deeply impressive.”

 Later, at Lillian Ngoyi’s suggestion, the huge crowds stood in absolute silence for a full hour.   Before leaving the women sang ‘Nkosi sikeleli Afrika” and left with the dignity and defiance with which they came.

 Indeed, you strike a woman, you strike a rock!

 But now you might be asking “What does this have to do with me?” That was 1956, this is 2015! True. All of you were born in the democratic era of South Africa – the so-called “Born Frees.” (Personally I think this is quite a cheesy name with overtones of Bruce Springsteen, but whatever we’ll go with it). For those sitting in this hall, you live in a very different South Africa to that of the women in that Momen’s March in 1956. Whether black or white, male or female, gay or straight you have the exact same rights and privileges enshrined in our constitution.

 As I mentioned earlier almost all of you will go to university and be fortunate enough to pursue your passions and interests wherever they may lead you. But you are the exception. You are the 1%. For most South Africans that is not the case and you can choose to do something about it.

 After 20 years of democratic rule most black children continue to receive an education that condemns them to the underclass of South African society, where poverty and unemployment are the norm, not the exception. This substandard education does not develop their capabilities or expand their economic opportunities, but instead denies them dignified employment and undermines their own sense of self- worth.

While I was writing this speech I spent a long time thinking about how to convey the South African reality and eventually settled on two numbers from the research: R25 and R10.

Today, on the 27th of February 2015 half the country lives on less than R25 per day. They are in abject poverty. With less than R25 per day they need to buy food, clothing, shelter, transport and all the other basic necessities needed to live free from deprivation.

Half of South Africa lives on less than R25 a day per person.

The second number is R10. 10million South Africans live on less than R10 per day. While I was writing this speech and thinking about this I just started crying. This level of poverty is what we call “extreme poverty” or “starvation poverty” or “malnourishment poverty”. The reason why this is called “malnourishment poverty” is because with less than R10 per day, you cannot buy the amount of calories needed not to be under-nourished, even if you spent your entire income on food. You would still be undernourished.

10 million South Africans live on less than R10/day. Whenever you see a R10 note remember – 10 million South Africans live on less than R10 a day.

I don’t tell you about these stats to bring a downer to your prize giving. I tell you about them to implore you to do something about it. Whatever your background – rich or poor – you have been given one of the greatest opportunities in life – an excellent education. You will qualify to go to university and allow for the free unfolding of your personality, gifts and talents. As you make your way in the world you will have many choices before you. What do I want to do with my life? Who do I want to be? What should I study?

And I want to suggest to you today that you will only find true meaning in your life when you live it for the benefit of others.

You were not born in a random country at a random time. You were born in South Africa only a few years into democracy. Born into a beautiful country of hope and potential but one that is also still riven with racial tensions and inequality. A country still trying to make peace with itself and with the wrongs of the past. This is the unfinished business of South Africa and it falls to us, the youth of the country to keep fighting. To fight for the rights of those who cannot fight for themselves. For the millions of poor and marginalized South Africans who live on the outskirts of society – unseen and neglected.

I will tell you how we fix this country. It is not by relying on corrupt politicians whose greed and envy cloud their judgment and choices. It is not by bitching and complaining or packing for Perth. It is not by building higher walls or buying bigger cars. The way we will fix this country is when competent, ethical and ambitious young women and men decide to be part of the solution at whatever personal or professional cost. When passionate people like you and me decide that we want to work in government schools and public hospitals not because it is our last resort but because it is our first responsibility – to use the opportunities we have received for the benefit of others.

So, in closing, it is my hope today, that sitting in this hall, there are those who will use their talents, energies and ambitions to finish the unfinished business of South Africa. That here amongst us are some Rahima Moosa’s or Helen Suzman’s or Lillian Ngoyi’s, who can speak truth to power. Who can fight for the marginalised and oppressed. And who can show to all the world that when you strike a woman you strike a rock.

 Thank you.


In writing this speech I have taken statistics and phrases from a variety of different places including Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In”, Angus Deaton’s “The Great Escape”, a number of articles on SA History online, and various speeches of Hillary Clinton.