Most of us are familiar with the common adage: “Ignorance is bliss”. And while this might apply to some circumstances, in others, ignorance could be the very thing creating some of the world’s most pertinent issues.
This is why I think it’s nothing short of a tragedy that SA’s education is in the state it is.
I was lucky enough to go to a pre-school, then a private school, and then a university. Working in the media, I have also been exposed to a range of issues and opinions. But the vast majority of the South African population is not this privileged.
Schools continue to go without teachers and basic supplies such as textbooks, paper to write on or even desks. Many cannot even afford the uniform required for them to attend school.
In fact, poverty is so dire in our society, that simple things such as a girl’s menstrual cycle is enough to keep them from going to school, because they cannot afford sanitary wear.
When researching for a story I published on the lack of affordability of SA tertiary education, I realised just how few South Africans achieve high school education, let alone higher education.
We have a nation in which many young people are ignorant regarding sexual education. With many of our government schools unable to teach learners about health and sexuality, how can we expect the HIV and Aids epidemic to stop, or the rise in teenage pregnancies?
Without education regarding human rights, many go without knowing what they, as a human, are entitled to. A more sinister product of this is that many don’t understand what their fellow humans are entitled to. Even in university some are ignorant about what rape is, with some not believing in marital or male rape at the hands of a woman.
And while SA allocates a larger portion of its budget to education than other countries, it is simply not enough. I refuse to believe we simply do not have the funding when so many government officials live in mansions and drive cars whose cost could fund the entire school career fees for numerous students.
With a skills gap, our economy suffers. We need better education.
With lack of health and sexual education, our bodies suffer. We need better education.
With lack of education, our minds suffer. We need better education.
But with our government, millions of South Africans continue so suffer. When will we get better education?