A better life for children, is a better life for everyone. No South African child should suffer a poor education, especially when they are so driven and desperate for it. It is the responsibility of citizens and the government to ensure children can live a better life through a better education – particularly in a country which has, in the past, fought so hard for access to it.
Instead, we find the education environment blemished by failure.
Textbooks aren’t delivered on time, mud schools still exist, facilities – like proper classrooms or toilets – are often absent (or might as well be), institutions are destroyed and buildings are burned down. The department of basic education itself is so lacklustre in implementing constructive strategies and making provisions.
Those who are pupils find themselves helpless, those who aren’t, despondent. Educated children become uneducated adults.
We don’t have to look further than some of the leadership in our government to know that. We don’t have to think hard and long to realise that the message we impart to the youth, or rather the message that these leaders impart to them, is that success is possible because of deals that are struck under the table instead of skills and knowledge.
The effects of this filters through, resulting in a vicious cycle that can only spell failure.
When will the cycle stop?
The discrimination against equal education for black citizens during apartheid by the apartheid government culminated in protests, uprisings and upheavals – and rightfully so. But to what end?
The department of basic education has rendered several good causes and worthy fights null and void. Opportunities and freedoms now exist where they never did before. But turning it into something worthwhile, effective and positive seems almost impossible.
Perhaps the efforts of the department of basic education lack the drive necessary, the ability and enthusiasm to mobilise change.
When everyone is in the same boat, when the goals are the same and one person’s need for education is shared by another – not only with their peers but with the people who are there to guide and lead them and provide for them – perhaps then there would be a sense of community. An effective one.
Generosity to meet the needs of education would become more of a priority.
Surely empathy in this department is not a lot to ask for if it’s understood from an “I know how you feel” or an “I know why this is important” point of view. Or, more importantly from a recognition that, “I am of the community of South Africa, I know our history, I know our potential, let’s come together and fix it because I know what it means not to”.
Pupils as pawns
Perhaps in our previous government, the one that discriminated against people, that infringed on their rights and controlled them, communities and the youth who formed part of these communities were forced together out of the same vision. The vision for the right to education and not an education that someone else decided that they deserved.
But when a throne has been delivered to a certain few, who bands together with the rest? Equality becomes a non-entity, equality in education even more.
To say that pupils or the teachers who educate them need to pull up their socks, or to even expect this of them, is a selfish and cowardly game. To an extent some truth does lie in the fact that each individual must want to succeed.
But how is this possible when the socks that need to be pulled up are not made available?
And the provision for this lies with leaders, with government representatives and municipalities who are aware of the value of education and realise that being indifferent to the delivery of it comes at a really high price.
It takes a village to raise a child.