Allow me to sketch a few of the challenges they face:
- Transport to and from school. The school I visited today has a learner total of around 100 learners across the FP and IP. These children are small in stature but big on desire! The Grade one learners informed me that they walk for one hour each morning to get to school. They leave home at 6am to get to school on time. There is no other transport available to them. They literally travel from darkness to the break-of-dawn. And they pray it doesn't rain, since wet weather presents a real obstacle to get to school. When it's wet, the gravel road turns to mud and consequent flooding prevents them from crossing low-land on the way to school. They have to stay home and sit it out.
- They cannot do homework. The distances they walk and the time spent getting to their respective homes is exhausting, with no guarantee they will be able to do it. You see, many of them get breakfast and lunch at school, and very little else. Coming to school is the only option available to them to successfully cover the curriculum. Staying at home literally means being left behind.
This should be a recipe for disaster. Never though underestimate the resilience in children or their teachers. These Learners don't reflect their circumstances in their attitude to learn or curb their enthusiasm for discovery. They are as restless and energetic as any learner who has less challenges. And it's great to see that their teachers are not lowering their expectations of them. They must work hard and must remain engaged. School is not a reflection of home. Judgements are suspended and potential explored. And rightfully so. These children deserve nothing less than the best from their teachers. And I dare-say they receive it. They are literally somewhere and nowhere in terms of most people's GPS or location software. But they are in a school off the-beaten-track ..., and they have hope, and hope springs eternal!
Now, if you find yourself in a more established area as an educator and you have much to complain about, can I ask you...do your circumstances compare in anyway to this school, nestled in a remote location?