The class of 2018 started writing their final exams this week. I am sure exam rooms across the country are filled with anxiety and excitement. This is it. A discussion on talk radio a few days ago about the ubiquity of taverns and shebeens in the townships sparked this article.
I grew up in Mdantsane, East London. I wrote my matric and attended my first year of university while residing in Berea, Johannesburg. The daily struggles that matric students face resonated with me and all the memories of loud music while trying to study or get some restful sleep came flooding back. By-laws have to be enforced more, the same way they are done in more affluent suburbs. Not only does noise have an adverse effect on study time for learners and students, it impacts on the quality of sleep, which affects attention in class and productivity at work. By the time learners reach the classroom, they are already at a disadvantage and can’t engage meaningfully in class and are exhausted.
Without trampling on small businesses, all our rights have to be respected and catered for. In every other street there is a tavern or shebeen that plays loud music until the wee hours of the morning without consideration for neighbours and the greater community. It is a nightmre, especially for immediate neighbours. Their front yards are turned into parking lots, their fences into urinals and their walls vibrate from the sound that emanates from these taverns.
It’s an unwanted sound fest. In the city centres, shop owners outdo each other with sound systems to “attract” customers. Many establishments operate as restaurants by day and clubs by night. This is prevalent in the CBDs like Johannesburg, where a large number of the population resides in apartment buildings in areas like Hillbrow and Yeoville.
These and many other obstacles will be shared by learners when we all page through the newspapers in January in anticipation of the matric results. We will read of all the challenges they have had to overcome in obtaining their matric which have been pretty much part of their lives since they started school – such as studying by candle light, without teachers, and the recent tragic blaze that displaced many families in Khayelitsha etc. I take my hat off to these learners – some will emerge with distinctions and bursaries to study at some of the best universities, despite these adversities.
The socio-economic standing of our population can’t be fixed by a single action or in the short term but thorough long-term collaboration and co-operation. Authorities have to actively eliminate barriers to learner and student success, particularly those they can control, and ensure that learners have adequate sleep, time to study and a chance to succeed without extended interruptions – not only during exam time but all year round.
Success in school is not transferred from dedicated teachers wielding magic wands in the confines of a school. Learners have to return to their homes to rest, to practise and to master content. All stakeholders have a role to play, including the communities our learners reside in.
All the best to the class of 2018. DM
Sean Mbusi is an education technology entrepreneur and the founder of A+ Education