June 15, 2009

Skipping School

A well-known obstacle to education in the developing world is attendance. Sometimes kids just don’t go to school and there’s no truant officer to make them. And oftentimes, they have legitimate reasons for not going.

Luleka, one of the students we support in high-school, missed a day of school because she had to take her younger sibling to the clinic. Their mother was busy taking their brother, who had just had a seizure, to the hospital. Luleka got the role because she’s the oldest daughter.

I don’t know the name of this student but her mother had to work in town one day, which meant the older child had to bring her younger sibling to the clinic and miss school in the process.

Xolelwa, the oldest child in this picture, is one of eight or nine daughters (I keep losing track) in a family. She’s also already an aunt several times over. The three children in this picture with her are a few of her nieces and nephews. I haven’t seen Xolelwa miss school because of these nieces and nephews but she spends a lot of time caring for them in the afternoon. I wonder what it’ll do to her back, having to carry them around from such a young age?

I used to get frustrated when I saw children we support not in school. Now, I just give a resigned sigh. I don’t know how money alone can solve a problem like this.