Social issues: Mainstream School

Ever since I started on this home school journey, I’ve found myself noticing how outdated the concept of school is. When we visited Ihla de Mozambique, it looked like there were more school aged children, out of school than there were, in school.

Some were fishing, while others collected shells to sell. As we walked past the local school during their break time, I wondered what a different life these kids in uniforms would have, from those who were earning some money so that their family could eat that night.

Social issues: Mainstream School

School is a privilege in Southern Africa, not a right. There are so many social issues around going to school, that it isn’t a possibly for many children. School requires not only expensive uniforms and shoes, but also transport that ensures you get there on time for an 8am start. What about stationery and access to learning support like libraries?  It demands time in which to do homework, and a home environment that is conducive to getting work done.

It doesn’t take children into consideration who need to look after younger siblings and family members. School expects an adult presence to, if not offer some help, then to take on the adult responsibilities required of a home.

The reality is that for more and more children, this kind of social structure is just not possible. When your parent leaves home before sunrise in order to get to their job and arrives home after dark, you are the “adult presence” for the younger members of the household. You have to manage the logistics of feeding them, getting them to school and helping them when they get home. If you are a parent of a school aged child, picture everything you do in a day, done by an 11 year old.

South Africa’s economic and social climate means that you cannot assume that the people, who you are competing with in the job market, finished school. And you cannot arrogantly assume that the fact that you have completed your schooling, means that you stand a better chance, at getting that job.

The way things stand at the moment, it is far more useful to have a driver’s license, than it is to have a Matric certificate. A driver’s license means that you can work for a courier or food delivery company. It means that you can start your own taxi business or sign up to work for Uber.

What does your Matric certificate guarantee? When half our matriculants can’t read or write, nothing. It guarantees nothing.


  1. chastin dreyer

    November 21, 2016 at 10:38 am

    I agree so much with this post modern day schooling is lacking in so many ways and just not conducive to stimulating the kids and allowing them to just be kids as well, many kids are on anxiety meds etc because the workload is just so much with a lack of actual teaching as the teachers do not have the time or resources to put in the time the kids need they are so busy doing admin work and assessments, the environment also as you said does not cater to kids with home issues or kids parents who cannot meet the financial obligations school demands, they say fees must fall I agree but I think it should be for primary education rather, the schools are also not suited to children with anxiety or social disorders or most learning disorders and high end spectrum disorders either.

    1. rumtumtiggs

      November 21, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Chastin. Every time I’m tempted to send my kids back to school (because I don’t feel like I’m doing a good enough job) I remember that however little they are learning with me, they are still learning more than they would at school, where they hated it because of the bullies.

  2. Tandy | Lavender and Lime

    November 22, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Child headed households are the reality nightmare of our time. Formal education is not always the best education! Sometimes having a skill is far more valuable.

    1. rumtumtiggs

      November 23, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      Education happens all over Tandy and that’s why I’m glad you specified “formal education”. We need to stop looking at certificates as a measure of knowledge and give more consideration to people with life experience. For example, a parent who has left the work environment to raise their kids should praised for their commitment and hired back into the workforce for their multi tasking skills. Unfortunately, the world hasn’t reached that point yet. Not in South Africa anyway xx

  3. Gingi Freeman

    November 23, 2016 at 6:38 am

    People often do not realize how lucky they are to have schools to go to.. I was talking to someone from Belize who said that some areas the communities are too far from schools of any kind.. crazy to think, living in Cali my whole life… –

    1. rumtumtiggs

      November 23, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      What I found interesting Gingi was the fact that some children were in school, while other’s weren’t. I wonder if the children who aren’t in school will have more success in life, or less. There is obviously no way to tell but I feel sorry for the kids who would actually love to attend but are unable to due to their commitments at home. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m glad I found your blog :)

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