Georgina Guedes

Queuing for an education

2013-04-18 11:24

Georgina Guedes

Yesterday, I saw the queues for parents to register their children for Parkview Primary, on the front page of The Star newspaper. It’s the kind of image that constricts my heart with a fist of terror - I want to send my kids to a government school, and chances are that this is what I will be up against.

Every parent wants what's best for their children. Health, education and happiness are the three fundamentals that we can attempt to offer them to set them up for success in later life. In trying to balance the three, we have to make sacrifices and hard choices.

I could just about afford to send my two children to a private school, but it would mean a significant drop in our quality of life, and countless other opportunities would be denied them as a result. Because of this, my husband and I have decided that, for primary school at least, we will send our kids to one of two local government schools.

We are fortunate that we live in an area where there are still good public schools. How I rate "good" is a combination of academics, good vibes and a good cultural mix. A few of my friends with older children have sent theirs to both of these schools, and are very happy with the results.

At the same time as I feel genuine fear for my own situation (will I really have to camp on a pavement for two nights to get my children into a decent school?), I am aware that I am still far more privileged than most of the population of this country. I still have options.

And while, of course, I am going to continue to try to do what's best for my own children, I'm filled with throat-tightening empathy for those who have no choice but to send their children to the closest, understaffed, underserviced excuse for a government school, knowing that this will not enable them to break the cycle of poverty.

Which again brings me to the point of disgust at the fact that education is still not a priority for our government - this one thing that could mean a future for the majority of South Africans. Instead, we see ever-lowered pass rates to create the impression of improved results, failure to deliver text books for two years running, and a general mockery of one of the most important services a government can offer.

Here's hoping that someone, somewhere in government will begin to take responsibility for a brighter future for all the children of South Africa, and we’ll see fewer queues for the handful of decent government school still left.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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