All schools across the country were forced to adopt an online format of learning as lockdown regulations due to Covid-19 made it difficult for education to take its regular course.
Many children in South Africa were unable to afford to learn this way and this negatively impacted the way they received their education.
“That is a reality that not only learners living in rural areas or in townships had to experience, when you look at the upper middle class as well, the internet became more of a necessity than actual food in the fridge.” said Ntsako Mhlanga a Children’s Corrects Advocate.
She states that Covid-19 exposed the injustices and barriers in education children had to experience as learning was based online and inaccessible to the vast majority. This is because a large amount of South African households do not have internet connectivity as they cannot afford it.
She explains that World Children’s Day is not so much of a celebration yet but rather a reminder of the work that still needs to be done for children so that they receive a quality education and develop well all around.
“Scrutinizeing at the different learners who couldn’t access education, I felt like our telecommunication networks could have done something about that, I’m not saying nothing was done but I felt like more could be done to accommodate South Africa at large.” says Mhlanga.
Many schools across South Africa don’t have the proper infrastructure for learners to remain safe while at school, some having lost their lives by going to unsafe pit hole bathrooms. This poor infrastructure and many other factors negatively affect the quality of education received by learners.
Mhlanga emphasizes that a quality education encompasses things like proper infrastructure, internet connectivity, social justice, social development and transport.
“Once we start as a people looking at education with more of a holistic view, that education is the center but we have different departments around it that need to also focus on their part in education… then we can celebrate World Children’s Day and look at education from a quality perspective.” Mhlanga argues.
She encourages leaders from all aspects to reflect on what they are doing to contribute to the future leaders of this country especially when it comes to education.
“Education is everyone’s problem.”
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé