School of hard-knocks starts at dawn
MANY pupils as young as 5 and 6 have to daily overcome long travel distances to and from school, often in extremely dangerous conditions. This, all to access a semblance of a basic education.
Small children in rural areas have no alternative but to walk many kilometres to and from school on a daily basis while their counterparts in the cities are transported in overloaded, unroadworthy taxis driven by unlicensed drivers, or use unreliable train or public bus services.
Both groups enjoy the “journey” and accept it as being the norm. They are propelled into a situation of self-supervision way before they are equipped to handle such adult responsibilities.
Their morning, for many of them, starts at 4am or 5am, when they wake to fetch water, let out their family’s cows, and help their younger siblings get ready. They then set off on their walk or wait for the taxi to hoot or rush off to take public service transport.
Many arrive at school two or more hours later, worn-out, exhausted and sweaty. Needless to say, they are expected to pay attention and remain focused for the six-hour school day knowing they will have to repeat the journey at the end of the day.
That is one extremely difficult form of built-in abuse which parents, educators, law enforcers and politicians forget to acknowledge, or do we choose look the other way?
Education, which so many term as a means of setting free the oppressed, has the opposite effect.
The playing fields have been levelled by the government initiatives rendering the word apartheid in the “past tense”.
How equal is it when a 5-6-year-old, usually from a single parent home, is up before fully grown, laughing, lying, arrogant, power and money-hungry politicians to face the daily challenges of facing death, dodging bullets and escaping abuse and even death from family or friends or even an educator?
KENNETH M ALEXANDER Athlone