Written By: Nombulelo “Noggz” Nogwanya
For some, education is the mere act of sitting in a classroom for long hours on a daily basis, while for a child who knows all the doors it could open, it represents life itself. The best gift anyone could give to such a child longing for more in life is that of education and support because not only will it change his life but it will also bring forth to those around him hope and inspiration. Education is indeed the most powerful weapon!
Looking around our country today, one can easily see how poverty has taken over and how illnesses have crippled even the minds of our future leaders. The hardships of life on our young ones have made it believable that there really is nothing left to be done to turn things around. When even the minds of the few that still believe in education as the way out are beginning to be filled with doubt and negativity, then as a nation our problem is only getting deeper. It’s about time someone; anyone, stood up and remembered that our rural learners also have a role to play in our economy, a chapter to write in our book as a nation moving forward and that all they need is a fair chance.
Former South African president, Nelson Mandela once said: “It is through education that a peasant’s daughter can become a doctor, a mine worker’s son can become the head of the mine” and who really knows what more good could happen to us if we started prioritising every learner’s educational journey? For a country celebrating two decades of democracy to still have some of its sons and daughters learn under trees, mud huts, getting crammed up in classrooms needing more teachers and furniture, this simply is an injustice for those who fought for a better and brighter youth. A learner waking up extremely early to start a long walk to school in some remote village, need not be made to feel left out or inferior in the new South Africa.
The focus on developed provinces should be shifted to those that are still to be explored and developed. Every child deserves an excellent education no matter where they are. Our learners need to be taught ways in which they can better their lives and improve their communities through an education system that does not discriminate or set low standards for them. Imagine how we can grow as a nation if every learner is molded into a free-thinker from a young age and is afforded all the resources they need to make a positive change?
For a South Africa embarking on growth, creating equal opportunities for all and a nation dependent on itself, education of all learners should be a priority! Rural learners in particular, should have more educational development programmes such as the Rural Education Access.
We currently have projects such as the Programme (REAP) which gives information, resources and referrals to grade 11 & 12 learners in rural schools and assists with sourcing funds from the National Skills Fund (NSF) and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Better schools, libraries and ICT facilities should also be made available for them along with well trained and professional teachers. Local community members should be made part of this movement by being taught about the importance of an EDUCATED and supported child. Help need not only come from the government but the private sector and individuals too. Remember, it always seems impossible until it is done.