Written by Gabriela Motroc & François Firket.
Today, we experienced three different South African Schools (one High School of Maitland and two primary schools of Khayelitsha) which brought us several insights on the South African society. Maitland High School addresses the needs of townships students and refuges students. During our visit, we met with students from all over Africa who shared their feelings and concerns with us. Asked on the difficulty to confront the challenges generated by school while getting little inputs from their parents, the students expressed with a lot of maturity their willingness to work hard and achieve their life’s plan. They insisted particularly on the fact that education constitutes their only chance to escape from poverty. The students added that although friends from your neighborhood could have a bad influence on your capacity to fulfill your goals, you are the only one to determine your destiny. We would hardly expect such life insight from European student of an equivalent age.
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After leaving the high school, we headed towards the biggest townships of Capetwon called Khayelitsha. Upon our arrival, our guide took us through section D of the townships. While moving around these temporary house made out of woods and plastics, we tried to grasp the living conditions of the inhabitants. In the first primary school of Khayelitsha, we were positively surprised by the quality of the teaching material. Soon we understood that the school enjoyed the support of generous donators. There, we met a British volunteer who was busy teaching English to pupils of the school. In South Africa, only a few people have English as their first language. Therefore, literacy in English seems to be a major burden for South African kids. In the second primary school, the quality of material was not so good and as if the poor environment would not be enough, safety is another issue. Lately the school had suffered from several robberies.
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Overall, we had the feeling that the appearance presented to us did not match the reality which inhabitants of the townships are facing. Growing up through such area, it is no wonder the South African education system is so unequal.
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