[intro]We have just commemorated 41 years since the 1976 Soweto Uprisings. A time when the youth took to the streets to fight against injustices. ZEKULUNGE BOBOTYANA, takes us through some of his frustrations as a born free in a small town called Cumakala in the Eastern Cape. [/intro]
As born-frees, we are very privileged not to have been forced to conform to oppressive apartheid laws. However, we have the misfortune of struggling to dismantle an inherited colonised mind set. In my small town, Cumakala in the Eastern Cape, youth are faced with typical challenges such as unemployment, lack of service delivery and illiteracy.
It creates deep anxiety seeing my peers dropping out of school with the hope there is still room for an uneducated person in the workplace. Our fathers quit school with the intent to seek greener pastures in mines and the youth of today appear to sustain the chain as they drop out of school.
Decent jobs for the unskilled and uneducated are becoming more difficult to find. What tears at my heart is that my peers are prone to being exploited in mines, farms and construction companies as these industries prey on uneducated people. But is there any reason for learners to stay at school?
Gcinubuzwe Secondary School is appealing from the outside, but learners in the school grounds face many challenges. Matric learners from Gcinubuzwe have been reaping humiliating results in their NSC examinations. Gcinubuzwe achieved less than a 42% pass rate for the past two years. The school reached 41,37% and 40,3% in 2015 and 2016 respectively, with only four learners managing to pass with an admission to a Bachelor’s degree and a 0% pass rate in Mathematics in 2016.
Nophumlani Khontyo works as a teacher in Cumakala and is very critical of the environment, she lambasted parents in the community for failing to take appropriate steps in preventing their children from dropping out. “Education does not have value in our community because there is no one who has really made it and that eventually influences learners to drop out”, she said.
Learners also expressed their frustrations with the education system. Sinethemba Rodo says that his teacher was absent for three months, and there was no replacement. He says this left learners ‘lagging behind’ compared to his peers in other schools where teachers were always in class, always on time and available. While Rodo took some responsibility for those who do not pay attention, he also brought some serious issues to light. “As learners, we have a tendency to be on social networks and cause chaos during learning hours,” he said but added that other pressing issues at local schools are the absence of a student representative body that can voice concerns to school management. Another issue he raised is the lack of extra mural activities.
Mawabo Bhushula is a young man working to make his community a better place. Bhushula is a soccer coach for the local team. His team is made up of both learners and drop-outs. “Using soccer to prevent the youth from resorting to crime and drugs is not child’s play,” he says. Despite the shortage of facilities and a team kit, Bhushula believes their “biggest problem is integrating people with diverging views”.
These are the realities of our motherland. Seeing young boys who have dropped out of school herding livestock has become the norm. Parents have not been active in curbing this trend. Although wrong doings should not be justified, this may lead them to resort to crime. However, we cannot shift the blame to the elderly for our shortcomings.
If we believe the historic events such as June 16 are worth commemorating, then we ought to uphold principles and ideals of our revolutionary heroes. Taking a stand against all injustice and treasuring education would be the best way of showing gratitude to those who put their bodies on the line. It is vital to acknowledge historic events because they inspired the whole world that it is through activism that transformation will emerge.