Let’s put my visits to the 10 plus primary schools with UCT Online High School into perspective.
For the past month and a half, I have been visiting primary schools in our communities, addressing grade 7 learners. Some areas were a little better off than others I have to say, but no matter where we found ourselves, the message was put across. And what we have witnessed is that all of these kids, no matter the area they come from, yearn for motivation, and inspiration, and need positive role models.
My role is to speak about the positive and negative experiences of social media, cyberbullying, Whatsapp groups amongst kids, gender-based violence, the importance of reading to comprehend better, and having respect for themselves, others and their teachers. You will be amazed at how intensely your kids listen to our messages. I always say we need to hit the ground running hard at our primary schools in order to prepare the kids for high school.
The challenges geography presents
The very sad thing is that you can actually see the difference in the calibre of questions coming from the different areas. Believe me, there’s a big difference. In my opinion, some of these kids coming from the more challenging areas need to work three times harder than the kids coming from the more affluent areas. And remember, they have more challenges surrounding them on a daily basis. It is a very sad thing to witness, but unfortunately, it's the reality. The great thing that UCT Online High School brings, is that it would put all these kids on the same level in my opinion. Every kid, no matter where they come from, gets the same quality teachers and mentors. Every child, no matter where they come from, now has an equal chance of getting into a good secondary school system, and with that comes the possibility of a great life. Regardless of the challenges up to that point, opportunities are there and available to all.
So the last fifteen minutes of our sessions were taken over by Cassiem from UCT Online High School as he lays out the whole school’s program. We try not to keep kids for more than half an hour as you lose them after that. The great thing is when he opens up the floor to questions — you will be surprised at some of the questions these kids have. So much interest at such a young age.
It's another option for kids which was not available a few years ago. The extra option gives parents peace of mind. I just read on social media that a friend of mine applied to 9 high schools and not one accepted his child. Then I looked in the comment section and over 100 comments from so many people who are in the same boat. And in walks UCT Online High School. Such a great option in the times that we live in with all the safety issues, bullying and social challenges our kids have to face these days. But, for me personally, the best thing about this program is when twelve-year-old kids come up to us after the session and say: "Sir, that was very inspirational and thank you for coming to our school. I will definitely give my mom the pamphlet.”
So, thank you to UCT Online High School for taking the initiative and recognising that these kids, from all areas, need inspiration, and also making a great option available to them if they're not keen to go to a traditional high school. Well done.