Formidable challenges await young people – Bishop Steve Moreo
Posted by Roger Dickinson on 12 September 2023, 18:40 SAST
Media release by the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, the Rt Revd Dr Steve Moreo, on the dire state of education in South Africa – Thursday 2 February 2023
While congratulating those who have passed their matriculation examinations, Bishop Moreo said that he had been approached by a delegation of young people in his Diocese about the difficulties they face in regard to education. In the Diocese of Johannesburg in particular, and in the country in general, the state had failed over decades now to provide adequate educational facilities for all learners.
“Reports in the media, from parishioners and from the general public make it clear that in many instances the state has dragged its feet in ensuring that there is a holistic approach to providing an educational system for South Africa’s children and youth which will build a country for the future.”
He said the group of young parishioners had put the challenges facing them succinctly: “In earnest, when matric results are released annually, there is no one who speaks to the challenges that are faced by the pupils in their early grades of formation and yet they’re expected to matriculate with exceptional results. It is known that repeating of a grade is less encouraged, and students are ‘encouraged’ to pass and move to the next grade even though they do not reach the required mark for promotion. The education system of this country continuously fails the young people, and some are more technical than the others, yet trade education is not encouraged. Today in our country we live in a society that certain skills and trades are undermined. Yet the young people are continuously living without proper education and with no trade to work on to use for their own sustainability”.
Bishop Moreo said there were many matters that could be commented on but confined himself to the following points following the latest matric results.
Bishop Moreo says that it is clear that formidable challenges face South Africa in the light of the release of the recent matriculation results, and the educational system in general.
- Schools still exist where learners do not attend regularly, not because they do not wish to do so, but because of adverse weather conditions that could prevail and mean that they are not sheltered from the elements while they are being taught.
- Media reports have suggested that there are a number of schools in the country where students attend only on certain days due to the shortage of classrooms to accommodate them. One example of this is the Simunye Secondary School in Bekkersdal on the West Rand. A group of young parishioners have reported to him that it was only in June 2022 that they were promised a school building, following the establishment of their school seven years previously – in 1995! Obviously it will still take many months, if not years, to construct the school, if ever;
- Many of those who pass matric find it impossible to bridge the hurdle of entering tertiary education. Even those who do are often left with no option other than to take care of themselves because of social situations in which there is no support, for example, given to those who may be coming from child-headed families;
- Those who make it to university find the transition so difficult that they become part of a large percentage of dropouts at the end of the year;
- The argument is often advanced that in this technologically advanced world it should be easy for young people to access the resources needed for their university education. This argument is facile since most young people lack the considerable finance required to have access to data which the South African government has allowed to become prohibitively expensive;
- Many young people with no or inadequate means find themselves in the sex industry, some of whom look no older than barely teenagers. Many find themselves trafficked for sex work, with some becoming sex slaves.
Bishop Moreo said: “The fact is that many young people, particular those who did not pass, find themselves outside the educational system and without jobs in a country with massive unemployment. There is a thin line between having nothing to do on the one hand, and becoming depressed and resorting to substance abuse and other deviant behaviour. This is a direct result of the lack of planning by government and its poor educational system.
“The church, as an integral institution of society, does its best to provide programmes for young people. But, unlike the state, the church does not have the billions of Rands to use as resources. Yet it will continue to do the work to which it is called by the Christ who said, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me.’
“In our political system in South Africa, it remains the responsibility of the state to provide an educational system that not only provides schools, well-educated teachers, access to universities and TVET colleges, and the prospect of jobs for all and a thriving economy. That is what we looked forward to in 1994. Current reports of the state of education provided by the government, and the highly negative consequences of its failure to provide a wholesome and holistic educational process, make it clear that the state has failed parents, their children, and future generations. That is the seriousness of the situation,” Bishop Moreo said.