Congress of South African Students (Cosas) has called on the government to provide free uniforms to poor pupils next year as a way of encouraging the poor and bridging the gap between the rich and poor in the country.
One of SA government’s concerns in the democratic era is how to narrow down the widened gap between the rich and the poor in the country.
Government has through its policies, tried to achieve success in redressing past discriminations against the poor as well as address quality of life issues.
However, the Cosas believes that since the government is already able to feed pupils through the national school nutrition programme, and provide free textbooks and other pupil-teacher support material, it should also be able to look into provision of school uniforms to pupils whose parents are unable to afford them.
Cosas secretary-general Khulekani Skosana said government should be responsible for providing uniforms for school pupils especially the ones in primary and high schools, the way the government is able to buy uniforms for prisoners.
We are demanding free uniform for students in primary and high schools,
We still have students who walk to school barefoot and we think that is an embarrassment to the country. We’re calling not only the government but the community at large to ensure that come 2017, there is no student who goes to school without a proper uniform.
There should be no student who is turned away from the classroom because they are not wearing a uniform because they cannot afford it,” Skosana said.
According to him also, Cosas was already in consultation with several provincial governments to ensure they come on board and provide all poor students with uniforms next year.
The organization would also work with the Department of Basic Education and the National Education Collaboration Trust to discuss how to assist students who are in need of uniforms especially those in rural and township areas.
The organization said its a way of restoring and retaining the dignity of the black child and would want to bring in the Presidency and the ANC to support its campaign.
Skosana said a lot of pupils are publicly disgraced by teachers in classrooms for not having school uniforms and said the campaign hopes to bring an end to that.
He said it is important that the campaign is implemented, particularly in the Eastern Cape where there are still a lot of rural schools and students cannot afford uniforms, and in KwaZulu-Natal too.