More help needed for schools

A new and disturbing trend is also beginning to emerge, where criminals are raiding schools for PPEs meant to protect teachers and children, the writer says.
A new and disturbing trend is also beginning to emerge, where criminals are raiding schools for PPEs meant to protect teachers and children, the writer says.
Image: 123RF/Elizabeth Crego

Perhaps the most reassuring part of President Cyril Ramaphosa's address on Sunday was that no parent would be forced to take their child to school come June 1.

This week schools across the country are preparing for the return of pupils from next Monday.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is being delivered at some schools while others, more so those in remote areas, continue to wait in despair.

Many schools are counting the cost of the destruction left behind by thugs who vandalised and stole their property during the weeks of a hard lockdown.

A new and disturbing trend is also beginning to emerge, where criminals are raiding schools for PPEs meant to protect teachers and children.

These all reinforce some ugly truths that we have always known about our country.

A child from a poor and working class family has much tougher odds stacked up against them in their schooling journey to success.

Parents who can afford to continue teaching their children at home will likely make use of that option for months to come.

For those who cannot, there are two dire options. They can keep children at home, miss a significant part of academic activity and have children repeat a grade.

Some will do so because the chances of a child failing a grade are worth taking when weighed up against the risk to their health.

Others however are likely to brave it out and send children to school for reasons much more complex than simply to get an education.

These are the ones who will be most vulnerable. The truth is, regardless of assurances given so far, the government is not ready to ensure that all schools are safe zones and all children are protected.

This is why we ask today for organised business and community structures, those who can afford to, to practically lend a hand to ensure that we all minimise the risk of infections in spaces where the most vulnerable of our society find themselves.

Going back to the matter of community structures, we appeal to residents in townships and villages, where the harm to schools mostly happens, to be vigilant and active towards protecting their facilities against criminals.

X