A Parent24 reader is shocked at how our country's school children are being treated.
I have been pondering on this for quite some time now, as I have been having a few issues with the school that my children go to as well with some teachers. I have decided to write this as I know that there are many parents out there that can relate to my story.
My first issue with the school started their first year of School, this was School fees. I am a married unemployed mother of 3 working on and off, contracting here and there, seeking permanent employment. When I am not working for a company, then I assist my husband on a daily basis assisting him when he has work.
I applied for a reduction in fees for my kids in the beginning of the year. We have a household of 7, including my parents. We support them by paying the utility bills as pensioners can barely survive today. To my amazement the school informed me that I can only apply for a reduction in fees if I had 4 or more children in the school. I was surprised by this but left it at that.
The next year with doing some research, I found that the reason they gave me was a load of hog wash, so I applied again. I was given the same reason once again. With this I decided to go to the Department of education’s website to download the bill and get the correct information. I then submitted and highlighted all the relevant documentation to the school, this also included the guidelines that the Department of Education has as to how to calculate the reduction.
Wow, to my amazement my children came home with the forms for me to complete. I then submitted these forms with all the relevant paperwork included, expenses, everything. I was informed by the school that they are giving me less that R 100.00 off per child for the year. What a joke, they never even took the Department of Education’s guidelines into consideration as to how to calculate this reduction. They basically just came up with an amount that suited them. Never took any of my documentation into consideration.
That was the first straw. The next one was when my one child came home and informed me that he wet his pants. When I asked him why he did not go to the toilet he told me that they are not allowed to go during classes only in intervals and when there is a big enough group to go to the toilet. I raised this with the teacher, who never even noticed that my child had wet his pants. She responded that that is the rules of the principal. Needless to say that was not the first nor last pee stained uniform for the year (Grade 1) from my 6 year old kids.
The next year another terrifying incident happened. My children and all the children whose parents were behind in school fees were victimised by the school.
The teachers/school took it upon themselves to call the children whose fees were not paid to the front of the classroom and made an example of saying that these are the children who are behind in fees. In one instance a teacher even told my child she does not know why he was talking as his fees were also not paid up. How can this be allowed, the money issues are between the parent and school. With today’s unemployment, economic crises it is extremely hard for the majority of parent to keep up with or even pay school fees. What are we supposed to do, keep our kids at home? Even if you are employed not everyone earns thousands a month, they have to buy food, pay bills, buy clothing, etc. Times are hard, then you get told that you choose not to pay, this is not the case for everyone. Sometimes you just cant. I do understand that a School is not a charity, but there are circumstances where people just cannot manage. You can be employed today with a fantastic salary and in an instance everything can change. From working every day at a company for years, you can be spending years looking for work. At one of the schools meetings the neighbouring schools principal made an example where he called a kid in asking her if her father loved her, and when she asked why he mentioned that if he loved her then he would pay her school fees. This statement was made infront of the School Districts Head of Department who sat there quietly, he never even objected to this statement, I was SHOCKED!
Bullying is another problem, almost everyday I hear that my kids were bullied. Kicked, hit, flung to the ground, etc and I can’t help but ask myself “were are the teachers”. These are primary school kids, I feel that there needs to be a responsible person on duty during breaks and after school to ensure that this is not a feasting ground for bullies.
Now to the final straw, the one that encouraged me to write this. Last week my son was assaulted by a teacher in his class while his class teacher was not there. When his teacher was told what had happened by my child her response was “OUCH” and that is all. She did not inform me that my child was physically assaulted, punished, embarrassed or victimised by this teacher at all. Then she felt the need to go to the class that she was teaching and announces to my other kid infront of the entire class how rude my other child is. Just to make the event even sadder, it was a misunderstanding and my child was innocent. If my child was too afraid to tell me I would never had known. Yet this same teacher feels that putting a piece of paper in the dustbin in class and kneeling to look out the window of the class is cause for serious concern, as my child did not inform the teacher of the intention to throw the paper away. Kneeling to look out the window was serious enough to send me a note to have a serious discussion with my kid to obey the rules of the classroom. The child was not even given a warning and was not told to sit, an immediate note was written.
I ask you are the petty things more important in school these days and the serious offences dismissed?
Teachers demotivating children, telling them the class was better when they are not at school. Writing demotivating words in their books with sad faces that the kids come home crying. Screaming at the children in class? Putting an 8 year old child out of the class till the end of the school day, with no supervision because they were misbehaving?? Children have rights as well. When chatting to another parent about the school who’s kid is in the same class as mine the parent mentioned that her child’s reading has deteriorated, the child does not want to go to school anymore. Are we as parents loosing authority as to caring for our kids when it comes to concerns with the school because when we complain we are told that the teacher with address the issues?
How can we tolerate this. Teachers in Primary Schools especially are the ones shaping our kids. I believe that if you want to be an educator you need to love children and know how to handle them. You need to have a positive impact on them. If they have problems at home, they should feel safe that they can come to our teachers. We are entrusting them with our kids, but is seems that not all teachers should be teachers.
With me doing research as to who to take my issues to and who to contact, I came across numerous articles about teachers abusing, raping, beating, victimising kids and so on, it was shocking to see what is going on in our schools.
A thought I have to try and face the issues of schools just doing what they want with our kids is to put an independent person at each School to deal with issues. This person to be employed by the Department of Education, their sole duty to monitor complaints from kids, parents and teachers alike. This person must not be part of the schools staff at all. Almost like a mediator, someone to ensure that the Department of Education’s laws are followed, and also to guide students, parents and teachers as to their rights, as I do know that teachers are also victims at certain schools. That there should be a set turnaround time as to when matters should be resolved and if not resolved to refer it to the relevant District Heads. I do know that something like this will take time, but it is desperately needed in schools. We need to feel that school is a safe, and excellent learning environment for our kids, not just educationally but in life skills as well.
If things continue in our schools the way they are then I fear our youth and future adults are going to have unnecessary psychological issues that could really have been prevented.
Please do not get me wrong. I do know that there are excellent dedicated teachers out there that go beyond the call of duty for our children and they should truly be appreciated. There are also teachers that think they are doing their job but they are disillusioned if they think that hurting our kids mentally, emotionally and physically is acceptable. Then there are those that should not be allowed near our kids at all.Disclaimer: The above piece was sent to Parent24 by a reader and therefore does not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
What do you think of South Africa's schools?