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This is very much the sad reality of the impoverishment that is deeply entrenched in our society.
As some of the learners are excited about being at school and wearing new uniforms and so on, others are worried about their uncovered books. For some, teachers will be yelling at them about books that are not covered and are going to be used daily for the next 10 months.
To this effect, last year my friends and I came together and bought material to cover school books for the less fortunate. That is, scissors, paper and plastic covering, name stickers, pens and seal tapes. We managed to aid more than 150 primary school learners in the village of Phake, Mpumalanga, in the Dr JS Moroka Municipality.
Again this year, l consulted with some of the schools in Pankop and Phake to check if the situation of the learners has improved. I found out that more learners are coming to school with books that are “naked”.
This took me back to when I was a primary school learner. My books were covered, but they were covered with the brown cover that was more affordable for many poor families. This brown cover did not help our situations at all. Those who had colourful and illustrated covers used to tease some of us who were less fortunate and had the dull brown cover.
As child, I would simply get upset, cry and move on. I made the mistake of not reporting my peers. Luckily, it was most likely a child like me, with books that were covered in dull brown who obtained the highest of marks or results.
However, I don’t think it is right for a child to be mocked or to worry about a situation they cannot do anything about. At times, the teachers threaten to send the children home because their books are not covered.
Again, the child suffers from the actions of his or her parents. We could all argue about how irresponsible the parents are. We could even go as far as talking about why someone would give birth to a child when they cannot even afford the mere basics, such as book covers. All those points are valid. Nevertheless, they are not going to change the reality of rural children who just want to go to school and learn.
Anne Herbert once said we must “practise random acts of kindness and senseless act of beauty”.
We thought that we could cover one thing, which is their books, and let them discover their talents in the classroom. And if you are also interested in helping in this act of kindness, you are more than welcome to donate or buy material to aid these kids from impoverished families.
We hope to help more than 200 learners in 2020.
Kabelo Chabalala is the founder and chairperson of the Young Men Movement (YMM), an organisation that focuses on the reconstruction of the socialisation of boys to create a new cohort of men. Email, email@example.com ; Twitter, @KabeloJay; Facebook, Kabelo Chabalala
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