The Taung children

Surprising what a bit of care and attention can achieve with a few hundred no-hope pupils.

Surprising what a bit of care and attention can achieve with a few hundred no-hope pupils.

The North West education department seems to have proved that a holistic approach, taking care of students' emotional, material, social and intellectual welfare works wonders.

In August the department shipped off 435 of Khutsong's erstwhile high school revolutionaries to a matric boot camp in Taung.

Two months later pupils who had not received a day of formal classroom education this year are ready and yearning for their exams.

No doubt the department threw resources and its best teachers at the project. But it was the teachers' drive combined with the pupils' thirst for education that turned things around.

The teachers care passionately about the pupils. The kids picked up on this and have thrown themselves into achieving success in these examinations.

Together they believe that Khutsong's "child soldiers" will march to academic glory.

We'll have to wait for the results to measure the success of this experiment. But however they fare in their examinations, these kids from Khutsong have proved that our education system can work for highly motivated pupils coached by skilled and caring staff.

Three months ago most thought they would never stand a chance. Now most are contemplating comfortable futures in their chosen vocations.

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