Thursday 13 January 2005

In South Africa about sixty four percent of children who are from poor families are not educated because of the high price of school fees and uniforms. This information is taken from a recent survey carried out by the SCDF educational committee in the rural areas around Pretoria.

The South African Schools Act claims that education is accessible to all but this is simply not true. Due to a lack of monitoring by the government, the Act is not implemented in a uniform way. Many parents are still unable to send their children to school for economic reasons.

The government offers three alternatives which it argues will give the poor access to education: exam forms, bursaries and loans. In practice, however, these alternatives are full of flaws. For example, because of a lack of public awareness, exam forms, which give subsidies to parents who cannot afford school fees and uniforms, are often not distributed to those most need.

Bursaries are given according to the performance of students, but many poor students struggle in school as a result of poverty. How can one perform well whilst he or she slept without food?

Finally the government proposes loans. However, loans imply a risk as assets such as property (for those who have it!) are put down as collatoral. A friend of mine was taken to court after finding himself in this exact situation.

Despite government claims of accessibility, education remains out of reach for many children coming from poor families.

I would like to invite every one to join the struggle for free quality education for all. Let us unite and fight for our rights.

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