Prioritise children’s schooling

Johan Kikillus, Ocean View

After several months of hard lockdown, the time has finally come for government schools to open. Despite the catching up of five months of lost school work, there are two serious concerns that I wish to raise.

Firstly, with schools being closed, many children have not been under the watchful eye of teachers. As a result, those who are being abused at home probably would have received no support unless another responsible adult was made aware of their circumstances. Although the streets have been relatively quiet during the lockdown, many children were still exposed to violence such as shootings.

As a result of what happened at home and on the streets, I predict that a number of children are going to start school in a rather traumatised state. It is almost impossible for a traumatised child to do school work so they are going to fall behind even further.

My second point is that, sadly, a large number of children will not return to school. We see this trend after long holidays. The child might have gotten involved in gangs, crime or drugs. Often their parents do not care enough to make the effort to take the child back and inevitably, the pupil gets de-registered from the school.

Over the years, I have dealt with a very large number of such cases.

It is of utmost importance that a child finishes their schooling. I therefore call on government and civil society to do everything in their power to make sure that not one child falls through the cracks. This is especially important in the first week.

The good news is that with schools reopening, the feeding schemes at the schools will also start up again. It has been amazing to see how during the lockdown, communities rallied together to feed the most vulnerable children.

I wish to suggest that we prioritise the schooling of all of our children. Many of them will go back to school without stationery or uniforms. I want to encourage those who are able to contact local school principals and enquire about donating such items.It will be wonderful if we can look back in December and say that every child in the far south went back to school and finished the academic year well.