The news cycle is short, and with so many competing issues, often those who have been at the forefront of holding power to account, such as the media, struggle to give all challenges the airtime and press space it deserves.
There has been challenge after challenge, scandal after scandal and Namibians are struggling to wrap their hands around it all. But with the start of the new school year, we should remember the most vulnerable members in our society, the children.
There is no doubt that the education sector has been plagued by a series of challenges and confusion. The new curriculum, despite numerous reports on it, has caused a headache to many, and the state of our schools can be described as nothing short of a crisis.
This week we saw media reports of children being sent home because of the poor state of a school. Late last year, the girl’s hostel of a Karasburg school burned down, likely leaving many children stranded. We know that Karasburg is surrounded by a number of villages, and it is only the most destitute that now find themselves having to make alternative living arrangements for their children.
Hundreds of parents are still struggling to find placement for their children. Hundreds of children will be forced to go to schools far from the villages in towns, this also deepening the holes in the already empty pockets. How did we get here? What about the children? The answer is that despite major budget allocations to the education ministry, coupled with a premature and unplanned announcement of so-called free education a few years ago, we have simply played the blame game while forgetting that children’s lives are at stake.
We know that the playing field post Grade 12 is already not levelled. Those who come from affluent schools that are better resourced are more likely to get the scholarships and bursaries designed to get school leavers ahead. Those who find themselves stranded, and are forced to travel across the country for school placement with little or no parent or guardian supervision, are more prone to make life-altering mistakes. The cycle is horrific. The victims are our children.
There is no doubt that education executive director Sanet Steenkamp continues to impress with her transparency and it is almost impossible to question her commitment towards improving the education sector. But sadly, the powers that be at the ministry have been relatively absent. The same can be said about the private sector in the quest to improve the state of affairs. We can no longer afford to engage in who is to blame for the mess that is our education sector, we can only commit towards fixing a broken system. We owe that to the children.
2020-01-24 07:41:34 | 25 days ago