Education for liberation must be new mantra for SA's 2020 vision

Pupils also contribute to the precarious and violent environment in our schools and parents must also shoulder the blame for the actions of their children. / Tiro Ramatlhatse
Pupils also contribute to the precarious and violent environment in our schools and parents must also shoulder the blame for the actions of their children. / Tiro Ramatlhatse

Education for liberation must be our mantra in 2020. Our country must commit itself to ensuring that all learners get an education for the future.

Today I will join millions of parents who will send their kids to school. We all send them with the hope that schools will be centres of safety and institutions where we can entrust our children.

This sadly will equally see many who will become victims of violence, sexual abuse and even murder. Some educators and support staff will also be met by the same unfortunate fate.

This status quo continues to persist as little is being done by the authorities to quash the desperate situation, so in need of sound leadership.

Almost a year ago SA woke up to disturbing newspaper headlines: "Teacher Made Five Pupils Pregnant" (Daily Sun, 15 February 2019). Firstly, it is unfathomable that an adult with the responsibility of nurturing minds of future leaders would look at a child with that eye.

Only a filthy and perverted teacher would do that. Let alone the moral acumen, the dastardly act of an educator sexually craving a pupil is surely unprofessional. It speaks to the calibre of a teacher who our children are exposed to.

Of course, it is not the entire teaching collective that is aberrant like this, it is however one too many.

A predator educator is more likely to abuse his or her authority by bargaining sex for marks and other favours to the disadvantage of a learner.

In the above quoted article, parents complained that the department is idle when dealing with allegations. Queries fall on deaf ears and culprits are often moved from one school to the other when action is taken at all.

Pupils are also not angelic; they contribute immensely to the often precarious and violent environment in our schools. Many of us will remember how Gadimang Mokolobate was stabbed to death by a pupil at a school in Dinokana village, in Lehurutshe, North West. It is said he was reprimanding a 17-year-old pupil who was refusing to stand in a queue. The pupil rushed home to fetch a knife and ended the teacher's life. He has since been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

On social media we have seen endless videos of pupils physically abusing teachers and fellow learners. The examples are endless but the truth is, our schools are hazardous milieus instead of being surroundings of academic excellence.

Of course, parents must shoulder the blame for the actions of their children. It is equally true that if leadership is weak or absent, we will continue to witness these abhorrent actions. The buck stops at the department of education, eventually.

It is the department that is charged with the responsibility of ensuring education takes place unhindered. A massive budget is set aside and resources availed to people supposed to offer some leadership but SA continues to be failed. All we hear is one excuse after the other.

The primary purpose of a school is dispensing curriculum. However, it is also incumbent upon school leadership to craft the ethos of a school and shape a culture of respect, discipline and pride. Many schools lack this. Small things that make a difference are ignored, such as:

Teaching doesn't start on time, every time;

Flexible enforcement of rules on uniform;

Emphasis not placed on code of conduct;

Contact between teachers and parents is minimal;

Parental involvement lacks.

We need more community involvement in our schools. Mentoring of pupils from upstanding community members can bring about role modelling that is a missing link at present. Let's claim back our schools.

Accountability must be denuded by the school from parents and the other way round. Our schools will dissipate into drug dens if we just sit and watch.

It is disquieting in the extreme that as parents send their children to school, instead of receiving glowing academic results, body bags might return home.

If our future is to put a nail in the coffin of the apartheid vision of poor education, we must build a new mantra, that rather than liberation before education, it must be education for liberation. Let's reform our education so that it shall never be said that the circumstances of one's birth determines their future.

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