School’s out

2017-03-28 06:02
Yusuf Morris (10), in front, community leader Abe Braaf and Yusuf’s grandmother Faldielah Kamaldien are waiting for a “miracle call” to get him into a Lotus River school.PHOTO: gary van dyk

Yusuf Morris (10), in front, community leader Abe Braaf and Yusuf’s grandmother Faldielah Kamaldien are waiting for a “miracle call” to get him into a Lotus River school.PHOTO: gary van dyk

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Last Tuesday South Africans celebrated Human Rights Day, but 10-year-old Yusuf Morris from Lotus River had no reason to celebrate – his right to an education has gotten lost by the wayside.

With his home being in Duiker Road he lives within walking distance of a number of schools but there’s no place for him. Every day his family hopes for that “miracle call” that will help him finish Grade 4 this year.

Lotus River community leader Abe Braaf from the advice office in the area has taken the youngster under his wing, helping him with some lessons during the day to keep him busy.

“I am heartbroken with this situation,” says Braaf. “How can we celebrate Human Rights Day when this boy’s education is suffering through no fault of his own? He wants to learn but all the schools say they are full.”

Braaf says the problem is that Yusuf was staying with his maternal grandmother in Steenberg until December last year. Moving to Lotus River at the beginning of this year caused the problem.

“He is now staying with his paternal grandmother Faldielah Kamaldien and his new placement of care was only finalised in February. But she did her best to get him enrolled before the time.

“She’s taken all the proper steps to get him in school but all they can hope for is that miracle call.”

Kamaldien adds that it is sad to see Yusuf dressed for school some mornings. Then she has to tell him that no-one called.

“He wants to learn and nobody can help him. Now he has to spend most of his day playing with his pigeons because he loves birds.

“Luckily Braaf is trying to help him with his lessons, but he has dreams of becoming a vet and working with birds, but it can’t happen if he stays out of school,” she says.

“How many more children are out there being denied their education?” Braaf asks.

“Our office is leading a discussion group of community leaders who are concerned about the situation of these children who do not attend school.”

“We have written to the provincial education department and called for a meeting to discuss the situation and drafted a list of proposals and are still waiting for an answer from them,” Braaf says.

According to him about eight community leaders from Parkwood, Mitchell’s Plain, Delft, Lotus River, Lavender Hill, Ottery, Pelican Park, Schaapkraal and Strandfontein have gotten together to talk about making a difference to the situation.

“Many of us work in these areas during the day and see so many children out on the streets,” he says. “Some of the parents of these children gave various reasons as to why these children do not attend school. There’s lack of documents, unemployment, poverty but there are also those who have a non-caring and non-fearing attitude.”

Jessica Shelver, spokesperson of the provincial minister of education, confirms that her department has received the request from the group of community leaders.

“We will respond more fully once we have had the opportunity to consider the letter and liaised with our district officials,” she says.

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