After what has felt like a lifetime for many parents, the holidays are almost over for their children, who last saw a classroom at the beginning of last month. Their break ends this week as government schools reopen.
The resumption of classes comes after the class of 2019 achieved a pass rate of 81.3% – meaning four out of every five pupils who wrote matric last year made it through.
While this is commendable, concerns remain about the hundreds of thousands of pupils who started Grade 1 12 years ago but did not write the matric exams. This cannot be allowed to continue.
As the school year starts on Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of six- and seven-year-olds will don their uniforms for the first time in the hope that, 12 years later, they will be celebrated for achieving great results in their 2031 matric year.
Government, parents, teachers and communities have a massive task ahead of them to ensure that we do not lose any of those who begin school this week. We need an educated citizenry who will play a meaningful role in society and contribute to the country’s growth.
Read: Class of 2019: Don’t lose hope after results
Granted, the economy is not performing at the levels we need it to; unemployment is high and continues to rise among young people; and inequality grows daily, maintaining the status quo whereby those who are rich continue to be rich and the poor are condemned to a bleak future. For this to change, every member of society has to play a role in the education of our children, who represent the future. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.
Children must be taught that life has many options because not all of them will be academically inclined. To this end, we have technical and vocational colleges, and skilled artisans are the backbone of a country. Not everything is measured by the completion of a tertiary degree.
To our children: Know that the most important thing is to have a curious mind. If it is financially impossible to get a tertiary education, search for free online courses to boost your skill set. If you are entering the working world, ask your employer if there are training courses you can attend.
The digital world is opening up many new avenues of work, and disrupting traditional methods of learning and study. The more curious and solution-oriented you are, the more likely you are to achieve your dreams.