Cherish our community schools

2019-01-16 06:00
Thapelo Molefi - Social Observer

Thapelo Molefi - Social Observer

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South African schools have evolved over a period.

At some point they were institutions that fostered racial segregation. After the advent of democracy, they became centres of learning and the epitome of unity in diversity. This was achieved through the enrolment of Africans into former Model C schools.

At the height of this wonderful exercise, the township schools were undergoing a different evolution.

Some of them, not all, had been built by community members, churches and the like. It is for this reason that they were a sense of pride for these communities. However, the advent of democracy saw the neglect of these centres of learning – hence vandalism crippling learning at township schools.

The neglect of these centres of teaching and learning is evident with the decline of discipline in schools. Part of this decline in discipline and a sense of ownership can be attributed to the fact that the communities that these schools found themselves in enrolled learners in former Model C schools.

One might also have the view that not all the township communities did this.

The piercing question is: How did we end up where community schools are vandalised to this point?

Now 23 years into democracy, South African schools resemble prisons, with high fences, alarm systems, CCTV cameras and the like. These security mechanisms are in place due to the scourge of vandalism.

Vandalism is defined as damage to property. It has led to huge costs being incurred, leading to repeated repairs being made with money that is unavailable.

The provincial Education Department’s financial guidelines only allows 1% of the school budget spent on maintenance and related costs. However, such provisions are inadequate given a rise in burglary and vandalism at schools, disappointingly committed by elements within the community.

Researchers have discovered that some cases of vandalism to property could be attributed to:

  • vindictive children who harbour revenge against an educator or other member of staff of the school;
  • malevolent children who enjoy causing problems, attention seeking learners driven by ideologies to a specific problem or issue and bored children who commit vandalism in search of excitement; and
  • frustrated children filled with anger who are former learners of another school and who for some reason feel that they were ill-treated as learners in that school, which led to them dropping out.

Also, the mushrooming of scrap-metal outlets could encourage frustrated unemployed members of the community to engage in criminal activity, turning to vandalism purely for survival.

Having highlighted these, as the community we must return to the basics.

We must be whistle blowers whenever schools are vandalised. We must have a sense of pride in these schools, since most of us are its alumni.

When we own these schools, they will return to their glorious times, and be centres of learning and landmarks that will make us proud.

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