Pupils need help with uniforms in winter

WINTER BLUES: The poor state of school infrastructure and expensive school uniform makes life unbearable for schoolchildren, particularly those in townships and rural areas in the Eastern Cape Picture: SUPPLIED

To address poor conditions in schools, it is important that corporates, philanthropists and non-profit organisations come together and donate school uniforms to disadvantaged schools in Eastern Cape townships and rural areas.

This would help ease the burden of school uniforms, especially during the imminent winter season.

This is according to a statement from the Latita Development Trust.

The winter season is approaching and the state of school infrastructure in South Africa and the Eastern Cape in particular is alarmingly poor,” says founder and CEO Asanda Madikane.

Poor families face the same dilemma every winter: to provide heat or food?”

Madikane goes on to say that adding the need for winter school uniforms to keep the children warm while they are away from home, studying, makes it “a three-way deadlock”.

Just like those parents or guardians, we are also faced with a choice: to either glorify the magnitude of the problem at the start of each academic year or to propose practical solutions. The Competition Commission intervenes to regulate fair competitive behaviour and enforces guidelines such as the accessibility of school uniforms through competitive and trans-bidding measures. However, the anti-competitiveness in the textile and manufacturing industry persists and parents who are especially from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds continue to struggle.”

According to recent statistics from Statistics SA, the unemployment rate increased by 1.7 percentage points to 32,5% this year and the rate is particularly higher among black Africans (36,5%) compared to other population groups. Moreover, Stats SA also reported that more than six out of 10 children are multi-dimensionally poor.

These statistics highlight the grim reality that many South Africans are facing and how they are affected by the alarming rate of unemployment. Although parents have an option of taking their children to state schools, they cannot afford the ever increasing cost of uniforms each year because their income affords them a basic living standard.

The winter season is approaching and the state of school infrastructure in South Africa and the Eastern Cape in particular is alarmingly poor. Most of these schools have broken furniture, classrooms that are too cold because of broken windows, mouldy walls and plaster falling off the ceilings. As such, Amnesty International, a non-governmental organization focussing on human rights, released a report last year addressing education in South Africa. In this report, the schools in Eastern Cape and Gauteng were specifically singled out as having the worst conditions. 

These schools in the rural Eastern Cape are in a dire state with classrooms that are debilitated and learners have to walk a considerable distance when going to and from school. While the solution to eradicate the problem of poor infrastructure in schools is not close to being resolved, coupled with the issue of the correct winter school uniform, being warm during this time will mean the learners have one less concern to worry about.”

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