As I sit here seething with anger, frustration and helplessness, I try to figure out how best to write this, taking what my parents have taught me about respect into consideration. As a parent, I want to throw respect to the winds and tell you exactly what I feel but precisely because I am a parent, I am going to try to be cool and clear so that what is more important, the message, gets across.
It is incontestable that our children have repeatedly been failed by the educational system over the last couple of decades, with a bygone approach. Attempts to bring it to par to guide our children in the wider world outside our borders have not yielded the best results. Since the pandemic, as we have faced unprecedented challenges, it is understandable that it takes some time to come round and come up with a formula that works best for everyone involved. What is however not understandable and not acceptable is that almost two years into the pandemic, the ministry is yet to come up with a constructive approach.
Once more, our children have to bear the brunt of ineffective leadership for how do you explain the fact that private schools, with more limited resources than the ministry, have been able to implement systems that ensure smooth transition to online schooling within months? We would expect that the Ministry, with after all, state resources would have been able to do same if not better. Maybe you should stress with your colleagues in Cabinet that whatever funds have been put up for Covid relief and whatnot should also be invested in the future of this country, that is its most important asset, the human capital of tomorrow. If the technocracy involved in your ministry is overwhelmed, maybe you should urge them to put red tape and ego aside and sit with aforenamed leaders of private schools to take a leaf or more out of their books.
Your dilly-dallying is not only cause for frustration but also cause for numerous ripple effects. How do you expect parents to figure out childcare overnight, when the day before you have announced that they, in so many words, should not be worrying about same since classes would be ongoing? Isn’t this a disrespect towards those men and women who are working their butts off to scrape money to not only feed their families but also contribute to the national treasure chest, off which many of you and your colleagues get the hugest part and which is not necessarily equivalent to the work done? Isn’t it a slap in the face of teachers, not only state ones, for let’s not forget that the management of private and public schools seems to be a family affair, whose hands are tied by bureaucracy but who are doing their best to diligently follow through programs to ensure that the kids get a maximum of normalcy in the classroom? Mostly isn’t it to the detriment of not only the education but the mental health of children to be playing with their time like this?
You might not be aware, Madam, that many children no longer rejoice when they hear that schools have closed their gates. Many of them become agitated, restless and anxious, because they now know what it is to be living in uncertainty in closed quarters. What is tragic though, is that these feelings of theirs are not necessarily due to a lack of solutions but rather a lack of vision.
I do not want to end this on a recriminatory note, Madam. I am after all also a concerned citizen along with being a parent. I therefore urge you to look deep into your own conscience as a parent, draw on your experience as a former teacher and act in the capacity of a minister, to do only your absolute best as the top of hierarchy of such an important ministry and to come up urgently with measures that will not give rise to two categories of students, and therefore citizens in this country. Team up with people who are innovating and succeeding, get parents and students on board, do not limit yourself to experts who sit in offices and have no real-time ground knowledge. Urge your colleagues in Cabinet to see that the future of this country does not lie in chasing a fool’s gold at the bottom of the ocean, but rather here, in the faces of the leaders and followers of tomorrow. We are in this together, Madam, do not alienate yourselves more than you already have.