Everyday, across our various townships, thousands of learners traverse the length- and-breath of the metropole to attend school away from their homes. They travel in varied modes of transport, from mini-buses, panelvans, cars, station wagons, taxis and buses to small delivery vehicles. Many of these vehicles don't look roadworthy, but parents don't appear to be disturbed by the safety risk. They appear happy to pay the fare to transport their kids to schools perceived to be better and away from the township. These kids leave home after their parents and often return home before them. The children are virtually unsupervised once they've left school.
But why the exodus? What drives parents to take such enormous risk to seek something better for their children? Even in the absence of an assurance that they will receive a better education at the receiving school?
It appears, in part, to be a post-Apartheid response, fed by the notion that poor children were forced to attend township schools, and now have options that were not available before; that township schools were poorly funded, staffed and resourced, and remain so 20 years post-democracy despite the reversal of funding models in favour of poor community schools. There also appears to be a conserted effort to forcefully break away from institutions created by our political past. It appears to be sheer desperation to have a better life for their kids than the ones had by themselves. It is a growing trend.
But it is a trend that is unsustainable. As a society, we need to reverse this tide that projects township schools as places where no or little quality learning and teaching takes place and re-culture our schools in our poorest communities to present the same hope and aspirations parents see present in schools outside of their communities, for which they yearn for their children and are willing to pay for at enormous personal sacrifice.
Community organisations, the staff at these schools and our education support structures and services, must ensure that our schools in poor communities offer our children a quality education - there should be no excuse for mass, daily migration into other suburbs for children to have access to an essential human right - a descent education. What do you think? Do leave a comment.