Summit seeks solutions to social ills vexing schools
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.”