Sum­mit seeks so­lu­tions to so­cial ills vex­ing schools

The Herald (South Africa) - - NEWS - Tre­maine van Aardt aardtt@ti­soblack­star.co.za

POVERTY, sub­stance abuse, in­ad­e­quate fa­cil­i­ties and scholar trans­port is­sues.

Th­ese are just some of the problems plagu­ing schools in the Sarah Baart­man ed­u­ca­tion district, ac­cord­ing to Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Mandla Makupula and pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture speaker Nox­olo Kiviet.

The is­sues were high­lighted by Makupula and Kiviet at the launch of the in­au­gu­ral Koukamma Ed­u­ca­tion Sum­mit, ar­ranged in an at­tempt to ad­dress the so­cial ills af­fect­ing pupils in the Koukamma Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Speak­ing at the sum­mit hosted by Paul Sauer High School, Kiviet and Makupula tasked the 100 ed­u­ca­tors, school gov­ern­ing body rep­re­sen­ta­tives and depart­ment of­fi­cials to break up into groups and brain­storm work­able so­lu­tions.

In her key­note ad­dress, Kiviet high­lighted the re­gion’s dis­mal ma­tric pass rate of 17%, with only 4% of those pupils go­ing on to pur­sue ter­tiary qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

“In my opin­ion this is a crime. Af­ter our vis­its to the schools in Jan­uary and July this year, we re­alised there is a des­per­ate need for us to come to­gether as role play­ers and change the out­come of ed­u­ca­tion and sub­se­quently our fu­ture,” Kiviet said.

“By tack­ling ed­u­ca­tion first, so many other is­sues will be ad­dressed in the process.

“We sur­veyed a farm school here, where more than half of the pupils are cat­e­gorised as Elsen [spe­cial needs] learn­ers, yet there is not a spe­cial school in the en­tire district.

“How are th­ese chil­dren ex­pected to suc­ceed?”

Makupula spoke about some of the depart­ment’s projects in the area, such as two new high schools be­ing built in the Storms River re­gion and Clark­son.

“In a lot of th­ese in­stances, the schools and depart­ment are blamed and schools are la­belled as dagga smok­ing schools or preg­nancy schools. But schools don’t grow dagga or make chil­dren preg­nant,” he said.

“At the very least par­ents need to take joint blame with the depart­ment. And as such it is nec­es­sary for us to work in part­ner­ship to tackle th­ese chal­lenges, which is why a sum­mit of this mag­ni­tude is of ut­most im­por­tance,” Makupula said.

Sarah Baart­man ed­u­ca­tion district di­rec­tor Ni­co­laas de Bruyn said: “Th­ese problems have been on­go­ing for years and for th­ese role play­ers from the district to have govern­ment of­fi­cials present makes them re­alise that their pleas have not fallen on deaf ears.”

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