Learners at the JB Matabane High School in Ivory Park, Midrand, are on strike because they want new classrooms.
The learner strike is on the eve of the Grade 12 preliminary exams.
Sceptics may say that the strike is a tool to avoid the upcoming exams and that the learners are ill-disciplined, unruly and driven by political undercurrents.
But the other side of the coin is harder to ignore.
Anyone who has recently visited any public school cannot ignore the state of degradation of school buildings and properties. Even former Model C schools are in desperate need of repair.
South Africa’s youth face many issues. They are exposed to violence, crime, drugs, alcohol, teen pregnancies and dim prospects of employment.
Often schools are the only place where the youth can escape from a toxic environment – even if it is only for a few hours.
One must ask how much the youth must still endure before the situation gets completely out of control.
The nation’s future is the youth of today. Any attempt to deprive them from receiving the right to an uninterrupted and decent education is nothing else but selling them out.
South Africa needs an educated youth to build a sustainable economic future.
Young people need to have skills, insights and knowledge to become part of a “workeracy” and should not be part of a mass that compete for few jobs in a market where they do not have supplier power.
• Peter van Nieuwenhuizen is chief financial officer at the Growth Institute, a private education provider