Pupil's heartfelt plea to Education minister

GLOBAL CALL: Cotlands and UN agency to push for free education across the world from December 8

27 November 2017 - 07:01 By By NIVASHNI NAIR
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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. File photo
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. File photo
Image: Supplied

Dear minister, please reduce my school fees so my mom can stop crying.

Grade 4 pupil Thabiso Hlongwane wrote this to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga as part of a Children's Day initiative - co-ordinated by nonprofit community development organisation Cotlands and the UN Children's Fund - in which pupils made suggestions on what should be done differently in schools.

Thabiso spoke of his family's plight to pay for his schooling as part of the UN initiative commemorated on November 20.

"I love my school and enjoy playing with my friends and will like the minister to help my school with books so that my mom can be okay because my father is not working and my friend's father is also not working. I would like money for school fees to be half because my mom is always crying."

Cotlands CE Monica Stach said the letters were an attempt to alert Motshekga to what children regard as important.

The latest annual Unesco Global Education Monitoring Report found that, despite the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 calling for 12 years of free education for all, only 45% of South African adolescents complete upper secondary education.

About 94% of children complete primary education and 83% complete lower secondary.

The report states the quality of education in South Africa is suffering because only 34% of pupils achieve at least a minimum proficiency level in mathematics at the end of lower secondary education.

The report's spokesman, Kate Redman, said Thabiso honed in on one of the research's core findings.

"We found countries making the greatest progress towards universal primary and secondary education were those that provided free education, including books and other costs related with school.

"We support the child's call, and add to it, emphasising the need to prioritise education in the national budget so that money is never a barrier for the poorest to access school."

Redman said the report showed children and the youth played a part in improving education. "This was seen in action with Fees Must Fall protests and is something we will be promoting from December 8 by holding governments to account for quality, equitable education the world over."

Stach said society often disregarded children's voices. "All children's voices across the world must be heard by adults who share the child's life space because children are rights bearers.

"Society disregards the voice of children and we plan, on behalf of children, to listen to what they say they need. The younger the children, the more challenging it is for adults to hear children's voices," she said.

Basic Education Department's Troy Martens said Motshekga has not received the letters yet.

"However, we welcome them and she looks forward to getting the views and comments from our children when they are delivered."

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