The sorrow of my graduation

2013-04-09 09:08

This past weekend, I had the honour of walking up on a stage in front of a full auditorium to accept my degree from Rhodes University. But unlike my many of my colleagues, I wasn't overwhelmed with joy.

Instead, there was a shadow of anger and nagging guilt - this weekend I received my degree, while many children in the province don't even receive primary school education. 

The situation

The Eastern Cape seems to face one debacle after another when it comes to education. Teachers remain unpaid, there is a gross shortage of teachers and government makes promises which are rarely fulfilled.

Last year, pupils set fire to their school in East London because their principal and Department of Education officials refused to hear their complaints that teachers verbally abused them and refused to teach them.

On the other hand, instead of simply doing its job, the EC Department of Education had to be sued by teachers and schools to fill over 60 000 vacancies.

The bigger culprit

Not only does the Department of Education fail the children of this province, but the government as a whole fails.

An article by a Rhodes student showed that girls at Mary Waters in Grahamstown often had to miss school during their menstrual cycle because they are too poor to buy sanitary towels.

Lack of service delivery means that children spend hours fetching water in the township from a communal tap before they can even begin their homework.

A number of literacy programmes try teach children to read, because government failed their parents - many of whom remain illiterate.

The Minister of Basic Education even went as far as to deny that there is a crisis in education.

According to Equal Education, statistics show that only 32.9% of learners present in Grade 1 passed Matric in 2012. How can a crisis be denied?

Leaders of tomorrow

Our VC called the 2012 Rhodes graduates that we are the leaders of tomorrow. But I'm at a loss of how we can make the change expected of so-called 'born frees', when our leaders of today failure is of epic proportions.

This weekend I graduated, and while I am proud of that I overcome much to receive it, poverty and lack of services prove to be monumental obstacles for those far less lucky than I, in light of our government's failure.

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