Minister, enough now

2012-07-07 08:34

How many years will it take to redress the education ministry’s failures?

I write this letter of concern to you, Minister Motshekga, with the utmost respect taught to me by my parents. I have read many articles and have heard countless accusations regarding the Limpopo book debacle – so many, in fact, that my head is about to explode.

I no longer know who or what to believe regarding what appears to be the “latest education scandal”, and whether or not the books have, in fact, been delivered to all affected schools.

However, Minister Motshekga, all I know is that throughout this back-and-forth bickering, innocent children’s lives are being sacrificed.

These are the lives of those we so often refer to as “the future”.

I cannot help but wonder at which point their future is supposed to start when they have had nothing to learn with for the past six months. We are now in July 2012, and soon our matriculants will write their trial examinations.

Are we telling these unfortunate learners that their future is really not all that important?

While this is unfolding, politicians, service providers and various stakeholders take one another on in various forums, trying to outdo one another, with no one taking responsibility.

Yes, we have read and heard about dodgy contracts, “fired” officials and sabotage, but it is the learners we should really be concerned about.

Let us stop massaging inflated egos and let’s be accountable for once. Let us apologise to the learners and the dedicated educators who eventually will have to make up for lost time so that learners can cover lost ground and catch up.

I also read with concern that learners will be expected to contribute R350 for catch-up classes.

Pardon my ignorance, but why are the learners being punished for the wrongs of their elders?

Why must they bear the brunt for other people’s refusal to take responsibility?

I think every South African knows that Limpopo falls within the category of one of the “poorest provinces” because of the high unemployment rate there.

No doubt most of these affected schools are in rural areas that have scarce or no resources available. Most children in these areas are raised by their grandmothers, who are pensioners.

This, as their parents go off in search of greener pastures in neighbouring cities, often without any luck.

These grandmothers have to rely on social grants to make up for what they cannot offer their grandchildren financially.

Madam minister, R350 may not be much to you, but I wonder how these grandmothers will be expected to raise this extra money for which they did not budget?

Why must the poor, semiliterate people always be the sacrificial lambs?

It is time we put a stop to this and say: “Enough now!”

Enough with the finger pointing and enough with the threats already! Let the ministry of education take responsibility for all of this – it took a court order to stir the ministry into action in the first place.

Proper planning systems should already have been in place by 2011 so that this province did not have to be sacrificed because of other people’s incompetence. Is this not part of the mandate of the ministry of education? I do believe that it is.

I can only trust that this is not an indication of what we should come to expect with the dawn of each new year – that a ministry first needs to be taken to court for it to do what it is there to do in the first place!

Mme minister, I know that you yourself are a mother and, if everything else fails, I can only hope that your maternal instincts will take over now that Rome is burning.

Education is the only way in which we can improve the lives of our children.

Please let us not sacrifice their lives, their dreams and their future at the altar of our own egos.

The nation has been failed, but as a proud South African, I believe that we still have a chance to do better and show these children that we care.

» Leeuw is chairperson of Sediba Sa Kitso, an NGO that provides career guidance to high school learners

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