Dear South African education
August 21, 2013 § 6 Comments
originally appeared on the Cape Times 03-26-2012
I am an average South African student, meaning that last year I was in matric and am now in a prestigious university. I studied and worked hard in order to leave my school in the rural areas in the Eastern Cape so that I can study in a university, so that I can get a good education because I’d like a great job, which will be a first for my village.
Let me give you an idea of the school I come from. Some of the classes have broken windows and that means that we either cover the broken windows with cardboard or hardboards. But that does not prevent the cold from coming in during winter, or the wind from blowing papers all over the classroom. When it rains, the classes get wet.
Some new buildings have been added to the school but it’s the administration building and not much new with the classrooms themselves. Sometimes the teachers don’t come in class to teach and there is very little discipline in the school. My school has no library. The first time I saw a library was when I came to university. I’d seen pictures of libraries in magazines and when watching tv from one of the neighbour’s houses.
There aren’t enough textbooks for all of us to go around. We share them. A lot of the pupils who should be able to read properly cannot read as well as they should. I was lucky because my parents were involved in my schooling and they forced me to read my books. I did not just rely on what I was being taught at school. I passed very well and even got a distinction. Unfortunately for most of the learners in the village, they can’t get help from their parents because their parents are often poorly educated, if they have any education at all.
Despite the advantages I had compared to the other children in my village, I was met with great disadvantages when I finally made it to university even though I passed well, significantly better than a lot of my peers who went to much better schools.
One of the major disadvantages I had was that I had never used a computer in my life. Suddenly, I was expected to submit assignments using a computer. It was not a matter of choice, but it is an expectation that I should be able to do so. First of all, I cannot even type. It takes me a good half hour just to type a paragraph.
The country is meant to equip me in order to make me a model citizen which will contribute in development of the economy. But I, along with millions of students in the schooling system, am disadvantaged from day one and I don’t know what the government is doing to fulfill its obligation to myself and other children who actually do want an education.
Many times our teachers are also badly trained. We have teachers who didn’t really study certain subjects teaching us subjects they themselves are not very proficient in. The classes are filled with too many students and it doesn’t help that teachers strike as well. Of course students don’t mind a couple of days off because it’s like a holiday, most kids like not going to school. But that doesn’t mean we don’t understand the consequences of not going to school.
It is no wonder then that many of my peers back in the village did not take their schooling very seriously, in their minds, there was no way they would be able to get to an institution of higher learning with the level of matric they would receive. They are not stupid, they are just hopeless.
Instead of giving children hope, this level of education we’re receiving achieves the opposite, it leaves many in a state of absolutely despair, and some even wondering why they have to go in the first place if their education isn’t good enough to give them an advantage in life anyway. We need to do something.
Yours truly, an average South African student.