Pupils at the mercy of par­ents

CityPress - - Voices -

In the vil­lages of the North­ern Cape, sit­u­ated in the province’s Joe Moro­long Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, res­i­dents have had enough. Two years ago, they shut down their chil­dren’s schools for al­most four months – an ex­treme way to get the govern­ment’s at­ten­tion for bet­ter ser­vices, an end to al­leged cor­rup­tion in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and tarred roads to con­nect their vil­lages.

Prom­ises were made, the protest ended – and noth­ing hap­pened. Now 54 of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s schools are closed again, keep­ing nearly 16 500 pupils out of their class­rooms.

Pupils in the area be­lieve their neigh­bours are us­ing the only bar­gain­ing chip they have in a chron­i­cally un­der­de­vel­oped area – schools and, of course, the pupils who at­tend them.

A prin­ci­pal told City Press he could not un­der­stand why res­i­dents would agree to putting their chil­dren’s fu­tures at risk by shut­ting down schools and bring­ing lessons to a halt. He de­scribed the ac­tion as play­ing a danger­ous game with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s matrics, who are less than a month away from their pre­lim­i­nary ex­ams.

But as the cliché goes, des­per­ate times call for des­per­ate mea­sures. The res­i­dents of the vil­lages in the Joe Moro­long mu­nic­i­pal­ity seem to be des­per­ate in­deed. The govern­ment made a prom­ise two years ago that has not been kept.

This must be dealt with – officials can’t ex­pect res­i­dents to trust them or be­lieve that the state gen­uinely has their best in­ter­ests at heart if they stand up in pub­lic spa­ces and baldly lie about what they can or can’t, or must or won’t do.

But more wor­ry­ing than the govern­ment’s fail­ure to meet its obli­ga­tions is the news that protest­ing res­i­dents aren’t con­tent to just close the gates of schools, but have threat­ened teach­ers, telling them not to or­gan­ise study groups or even dis­cuss the cur­ricu­lum with their pupils. Even pupils who gather in small groups with­out a teacher, to try to stay on track with their stud­ies, are be­ing in­tim­i­dated.

How can we ex­pect the chil­dren of the North­ern Cape to learn, to move on to uni­ver­si­ties and jobs, and great new op­por­tu­ni­ties that will help grow South Africa, if they are too scared to even do their home­work with their peers?

The res­i­dents of Joe Moro­long might be des­per­ate, but this is a step too far.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.