I am frustrated. I guess the way I feel is not unique to myself, but to every parent who cares about the future of his/her child.
For two years now, our children have remained home, without any education. Some of them have their future ruined forever because they got pregnant during this long stay at home. Others have also started indulging in substance abuse; such as alcohol, drugs, and marijuana. A sad situation, indeed.
When the COVID 19 pandemic hit our country last year, everyone thought it was just for a few months and the situation would get back to normal, especially as far as schools were concerned. This was never to be. Some schools started some makeshift arrangements to see children continuing with their education. But this only worked for a few children. Virtual learning has never been explored in the country before. We all preferred face-to-face training. Rural schools suffered the most.
The events of the past months in the country have made the situation worse. The political misunderstandings have punched the last nail on our children’s future. When the COVID 19 cases dropped and the government announced the opening of schools, one heaved a sigh of relief. We thought our children would now continue with education. But, sadly enough, it didn't happen. Schools began to experience worse demonstrations that resulted in the loss of lives and injuries to our future generation.
As a parent and a concerned citizen of this country, I feel our children’s future is not being given due importance. This applies to both the government and the pro-democracy pushers. Using our children to push a political agenda will never work, especially at this juncture when they have already lost two years in education. While some argue that the children will catch up once the situation normalizes, I do not see that. Some of the children will never return to school, which will impact the country’s literacy rate in the future.
The number of teenage pregnancies is likely to grow, again contributing to unwanted pregnancies and possibly increasing the number of HIV cases in the country. Already current statistics indicate the increase in new HIV infections amongst young people aged between 17 – 24.
Of course, the safety of our children and the protection of property is a concern for all of us. But the question remains; Are we doing enough to ensure the best future for the children of this great Kingdom of Eswatini? Has the government done enough to ensure that children continue with their education as required, despite the current situation? Has the government invested enough resources to address the issues of inequality in our education system?
We all agree that the efforts applied do not come up to the level that will bring the best out of our children during this time around. Government partners have invested a lot of money in coming up with online learning sessions for our children, but this is not helping. Some children never listen to the radio or even watch the local TV stations to follow these lessons. No matter how much you try as a parent to make them use these platforms for learning, they don’t. Some argue that they do not understand anything taught by the educators on the radio. Then I am asking myself if there is nothing more than the government can do to ensure that the education of our children continues smoothly.
It’s a pity that the attitude and conduct of some teachers have been found wanting. They have turned classrooms into political sessions, instilling the spirit of rebellion amongst our children. In teachers we trust, but some are selling us with an old penny. They are supposed to mold the character of our young ones, bringing the best out of each one of the pupils in their classrooms. Using the approach applied by other countries when they fought for their political freedom may not work well for us as a country. I believe we are unique as a nation and we should always be thinking about the future of our children.
My appeal to all stakeholders is that whatever is done should be done in the best interest of the child. We should not regret tomorrow for having contributed to the destruction of our own children’s future, leading to the destruction of this country. Government should consider coming up with incentives for those teachers who are committed to continuing with lessons despite the bleak situation in the country.
Scottish Qualifications Authority, UK
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