The past year has already been tough enough on schoolchildren and parents without them having to endure the cruel game of musical chairs that the education authorities like to play at this time of year.
But no, this year, as in years before, children are turned away from schools because there isn’t enough space for them. We tell our kids to take their education seriously; if only government would do the same.
Last year, the pandemic forced schools to close early in the year. After that, it was disruption after disruption. The impact of Covid on our school pupils is clear from the national matric results: the 76.2% pass rate for 2020 is 5,1% down from the previous year.
While vaccines for Covid are increasingly available, we aren’t out of the woods yet, and this is still likely to be a very disruptive year for our school system. Schools in poor neighbourhoods have suffered the worst of this disruption – they can’t offer the sort of online solutions available to children with better access to technology.
In a country where education is, in reality, the only effective way of achieving radical economic transformation, it is outrageous that children in vulnerable communities who are desperate to learn are turned away because a place cannot be found for them.
Building more schools is the simple answer to a problem that it seems has long confounded our country’s education authorities. But then this is a country where primary-school kids die in pit latrines while our politicians mortgage our youth’s future for a better spot at the feeding trough. There are no simple answers.