Concern for children not in school

Yasmine Abrahams with one of her pupils.

A Parkwood community worker has taken it upon herself to assist children who have still not been enrolled in school.

Yasmine Abrahams started the Jabulani Centre in Blackbird Avenue in 2000.

The non-profit organisation feeds hundreds of children daily and runs several programmes to uplift and empower the community.

She started a home schooling initiative this year after noticing children of school-going age and some in school uniforms, roaming around without supervision. She decided to call them to the centre to give them educational lessons.

“Previous years I noticed it and wanted to create a programme to help these children but this year I saw many more children who were supposed to be at school roaming around. I knew we had to do something because these children were at risk as they were unsupervised and roaming the streets,” said Ms Abrahams.

This was worrying as the first school term was almost complete.

She then decided to invite the children to take part in their home-schooling programme until they are enrolled in schools.

“My daughter is trained in Early Childhood Development (ECD) and we give the children educational work and let them colour. This way they are learning and in a safe place and not at risk. While we do this we try to find placement for them at schools in the area. There was absolutely no place at Parkwood Primary School but luckily we got one of our learners in at Montagu’s Gift Primary School” said Ms Abrahams.

Community worker Keith Blake said Ms Abrahams’ actions are invaluable: “Realising these children are becoming streetwise and not educational wise, instead they were losing wisdom due to not receiving an education and they were essentially on the back foot. Ms Abrahams decided to open and invite vulnerable children to attend where they can at least get basic education and have a fair chance.

“Ms Abrahams needs to be applauded for the educational initiative. She stressed to me her two goals, teaching these young children discipline and respect and to empower them in their school career and I hope other community leaders take up the pen and paper as what Ms Abrahams did,” said Mr Blake.

Bronagh Hammond, Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson, said over 2 000 children were still not placed in schools at the time of Southern Mail’s enquiry last week because there were no available spaces at schools and because of late registrations.

“This figure decreases day by day and the department is working to resolve the last remaining unplaced learners. Our district staff are using all their resources to find extra space for learners wherever it can be found,” said Ms Hammond.

She said the head of department also made an appeal to all schools to accommodate additional pupils, where possible.

“Various interventions have seen the number of unplaced learners decline. Unfortunately, we had a second wave of late applications at the end of January – following month-end – which contributed to additional learners coming from other provinces. In December, we warned these parents that should they apply late in our province there could be a long waiting list to accommodate them,” said Ms Hammond.

She said Ms Abrahams must advise parents to contact the Metro South Education District for assistance with placement.

The other reason children were not placed in schools was because of parental negligence.

Ms Abrahams said most of the children who are at the centre have not been enrolled because they do not have birth certificates. “This is very irresponsible because their parents need to get their children birth certificates and to get them registered and enrolled. My goal is to get these children enrolled at schools but I need the parents to do their part because at the end of the day it’s for the benefit of their children,”said Ms Abrahams.

The WCED encouraged parents to enrol their children for the 2021 school year online. The application process was opened on Monday February 17 and closes on Tuesday March 17.

Parents can apply at https://admissions.westerncape.gov.za