A typical school in the rural areas of Limpopo
Minjani, umfikile minjane! (Hello, how are you?)
Thank you for your support of our program, you are literally making a difference in a child's life, in a family, and for the future families that our kids will have. Your support will impact generations. We are already seeing our original kids, getting married, having children, and raising those kids without the abuse they experienced as children. They have learned a new way to be, think, to behave and at the center of that is love, care, and respect.
Today I want to share about the CRSA (Children's Rights Situational Analysis) that we did concerning teachers. Now I know not all teachers are abusive, it depends on how you grew up, and how you were socialized as a teacher into the culture of the school and education environment. Sadly, it seems that teaching, nursing, and being a police officer were the only professional paths available to black folk under apartheid. This created a cabal of teachers who didn't want to be there but out of necessity, ie the pay packet needed to remain in Education. However, 30 years later, the negative attitudes of even the new teachers under the current dispensation remain relatively the same.
As part of the work, I do I have visited a number of schools only to find teachers sitting outside, on their phones, eating, and reading magazines while the students were inside "learning". On more than one occasion I have checked out their workbooks as they were revising for the coming exams at the end of the year. Some children had only 1page of revision............other children had nothing in their books, and yet they were expected to revise for the year-end exams. All exams are in English and yet the children are taught in the local language because often the teachers do not know English well enough to instruct.
So when we did the CRSA concerning teachers it was no surprise about the level of abuse the children were subjected to within the classroom, what was a surprise was the level of indifference and cruelty expressed by the children. I wrote a few weeks ago about one class of foreign nationals having their toes stomped on by a teacher because they could not afford school shoes.
The CRSA allowed children to express what they wanted from teachers:
- Should listen to us
- Guide us to do better
- Support and inspire us to get involved in activities
- Respect us
- Guide us to do the right thing
- Assure our safety
- Boost our confidence by not comparing us to other kids
- Give assistance
- Stop beating us
- Teach us so that we can reach our goals
Teachers on the other hand think that children should not be vocal in class unless the teacher asks them a question. When you have 50+ learners in a small classroom it is very difficult to maintain order. Resources are minimal, many schools don't have adequate electricity, water, or safe toilets (pit toilets than can collapse over time). Buildings that can collapse easily.
As part of the Schools Act, there should be LRC's (Learner Representative Councils) but in the schools, the reality is there are no functional LRC's. The teachers don't prioritize LRC's and they see it as a waste of time and effort because the children are incompetent and not able to function at this level. Their voices are not sought nor required. The teachers believe, as do the parents that children are to be seen and not heard, they are incompetent to function at a strategic level.
As part of the new proposal I am writing we will endeavor to change these attitudes but as you can imagine it will be a difficult challenge, however, we are determined to give the children a voice to address the issues that they have identified.
Below are some photos of one of the schools I visited, imagine it's a 40C day (110F) day and you are trying to learn under an iron roof. There is no running water, the toilets are about to implode, and there are no rooves or doors for privacy. The cracks in the walls literally go through double brick and you can see daylight through the cracks. Bricks waiting to fall on some child's head. Desks and chairs are in various states of disrepair. The issues confronting our kids are so much deeper than just poor Education. However, with your support, we are going to continue to demand the best for our kids, for their futures, and for generations to come.
Thank you so much for the continual support you give us.
Thank you for faithfully reading this report.
God Bless you
A typical toilet in the rural area schools
Many schools are ready to fall down!
A typical classroom