By Barbie Sandler

Cape Town - We are told 81% of Grade 4s cannot read with meaning in any language.

A ticking time bomb indeed!

What an indictment on our country. Now we can start at home. 62% of households have no father figure.

They have sired a child. But left the bringing up to the mother and she then passes the problem onto the gogo.

The gogo probably has never learnt to read either, so cannot help the child in any meaningful way.

They certainly don’t have any books at home. Most of these households live under the poverty line so the children are stunted in growth due to lack of good nourishing food.

A lot of these kids are born to mothers who have imbibed alcohol so these kids have foetal alcohol syndrome. They then go to school hungry and tired as they have probably been up late.

One reads many times of small children who have disappeared and the mother says they were playing outside at 8pm. When they get to school they have maybe walked miles; they are hungry and tired which is a recipe for disaster.

Now we also see if KZN is anything to go on, that the kids may or may not get a meal when they do get to school.

Then we can start on dysfunctional schools and poor teachers. Teachers training colleges were shut down and teachers replaced. We sadly see the results today across the board as it is not only in reading and writing that our kids are failing, but in maths and the sciences.

We have 12 official languages and about 30 unofficial so how on earth are kids, if they are going to be taught in their mother tongue, ever going to read a book in their own language?

We know that is never going to happen!

We need to up transport to schools (how difficult is that)? We need to make sure that kids all get a nourishing meal on arrival. Too late by lunch time as the teaching has gone over their heads by then.

And I know there will be many who disagree with me, but I say start English in the classroom ASAP.

All my friends who speak fluent Xhosa and Zulu all learnt it as small kids on their farms. By high school it is too late.

If they are to eventually get into the job market it is no good only being fluent in say Pedi. That will get them nowhere. All my friends overseas who live in France, Holland and Germany have kids who are fluent in three languages.

There is no ways our kids can become fluent in our 12 official languages, so find one that will be useful to them in the world they are growing up in.

We need to get good heads round a table to sort this out before we actually become bottom in everything. We are not far off that now.

Cape Times

* Do you have something on your mind; or want to comment on the big stories of the day? We would love to hear from you. Please send your letters to [email protected]

2023-05-24T09:29:56Z dg43tfdfdgfd