So last night I was sent off to GIBS (cos my boss didn’t feel like it) for a screening of a short film titled Testing Hope which was filmed in 2005 and takes you on the journey to pass Matric in a school in Nyanga in Cape Town.
It was a dismal fail in terms of networking for business, which I imagine was my primary aim for attending, but I thoroughly enjoyed the film, the debate that followed and truly being able to hold my own in a room full of MBA and doctorate holders.
That said, and I am not sure anyone knows this about me, but I tend to battle with emotional boundaries. I want to adopt all the dogs on my Facebook newsfeed, I want to help all the children and all the elderly. I then tend to internalise and berate myself for not doing more and can go from thinking something is sad to somehow taking responsibility, in my sole capacity, for poverty and hunger and unemployment. So while I loved the film and the event, it has profoundly affected my ability to just carry on with my life as usual.
These kids don’t need money (well they do but that is another issue) they need to be recognised as committed and hard working and be given the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. Their parents have put everything into getting their kids to pass Matric. Their parents pin their every, poor, sad and uneducated hope on these children. Yet even the top performers in these township schools do not have what it takes to earn a place at a prestigious university.
There are not enough teachers who actually give a damn who make it their priority to equip these children with the correct information to get out of the township and make something of themselves. Why? Because despite the fact that education gets the largest allocation of the national budget, that money is not making its way to where it is needed most, the salaries of the teachers. Passion does not, sad as it is, pay your bills.
How is it that as educated and empowered South Africans we can allow this injustice to continue without asking someone to be accountable. Yes education is a basic right, and we make education available but should we not have an equal platform for every learner. Should my child truly be at a disadvantage in terms of their basic education because I cannot, for whatever reason, afford private schooling?
I have this need to recruit people, industry experts, mothers, teachers and just educated people with access to information to take the time, genuinely just time, and mentor or guide or just talk to some of these kids. Answer their questions, tell them what they need to get to where they want to be. Print them some information, get them some brochures. Tell them about bursaries and student loans. Present options like skills programmes for those not likely to thrive in mainstream education. Share your knowledge, share your time, you could change a life.
These kids have dreams, and drive and motivation just like we do. There is a gap between what they know and what they need to know to get there. Can we in some way, some small way, start to bridge that gap?