Education: our continuing Struggle

In my heart I feel honoured to be writing about June 16, 1976 though I don’t think I was even in my parents’ thoughts back then! I was born in 1990 and only in later years, after starting school, did I began to learn something about the events of June 16. The first thing I recall was learning the song Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika in kindergarten. I was excited and wanted to know what the song meant.  I asked my parents about the song I had learnt and that gave them a chance to show me their own inner joy. This was because my parents, on April 27th 1994, had just voted for the first time. 1976 was 14 years before I was born, but 1994 is in my lifetime.

As I go over the history, June 16th 1976 is both a sad and exciting day. Reading and listening to those who were around and lived through it all I feel sorrow for the many who died, but I am glad that our country, after the birth of democracy, recognises this day as one that helped set the country free. I ask myself questions about this day.  I count myself as a young adult but what does this day mean for me and the others like me, who were not yet born?

For me it means looking at one of the most important things we sometimes neglect – our education. My parents and others fought for this education, but sadly some of us today take it all too lightly. In the end this hurts all the stakeholders involved – parents/guardians, teachers, learners and the society as a whole. Often when things are going wrong we turn around and start pointing fingers at each other. But who exactly has the right to point a finger and who should the finger be pointing at?

  • Should it be at the “Izikhothane”, those who spend their parent’s money like peanuts on fancy clothes and junk food, just to impress, while their results are embarrassing?
  • At the “Teacher”, who is dating a learner, spending extra hours with the learner on private matters while the learner’s performance becomes the worst in the class?
  • At the “Player”, who is famous for dating all the girls/boys in the school while his/her results are a shame?
  • To the “Nyaope kid”? They can tell you 1000 ways to steal pension money from their grandparents, but they don’ even know one method for solving “–x +3 +z =1”
  • For those who are already planning to get drunk, and where the next epic party is?

Is all this what the 1976 youth fought for? If not, have we achieved any of what they fought for?

Without any finger pointing, today I invite all the stake holders I mentioned to join me in working together for something better. Join me and the others who have woken up to make our education what it should be. Our 30% matric pass is a worldwide joke.

Yet the Gospel reminds us of our hope for all South African children, like Jesus, to grow strong, filled with wisdom and finding favour with God and all people (Luke 2: 40, 52).

Mr Thapelo Letsoela
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