My grandchild can’t read or write

| Selby Nomnganga
Mr Thomas Lenyibi (79) in his wheelchair in the shade at his home in Paballelo, Upington. He lost his legs to diabetes. Picture: Selby Nomnganga.

A pensioner who only had two years of schooling taught himself to read and write, while his grandson, who has reached grade 9, can’t read.

Timothy Lenyibi, now on pension, only had two years of schooling, starting when he was 14 years old. Before that, he was a child labourer herding cattle on a farm near Bloemhof in the former Transvaal.

“The farmers would ask the workers, do you have sons? Then all of the boys would have to work,” says Lenyibi.

But after his father died, in the two years at school in Taung, he learned to read and write in his home language SeTswana.

Then as an adult, he taught himself to speak and read Afrikaans. “I learned Afrikaans from speaking to others,” he says.

He reads the Afrikaans Bible and he reads newspapers to improve his reading abilities.

“I read my own letters. I don’t ask anyone for help,” says Lenyibi.

And yet, he says, his grandchild, who is now in grade nine, cannot read the Bible.

Due to disciplinary problems, Lenyibi was called to his grandson’s school at Carlton van Heerden. In his presence, his grandson told the teachers that he can’t read. Lenyibi asked how his grandson got to grade nine while unable to read.

According to the principal, Reverend Andries Pretorius, the school does have such cases.

“It is the system,” that puts them through the grades, he says.

“Adjustments” are made for the age within which phase of schooling each child should be. The regional department of education makes that decision.

A teacher said they would have to provide extra classes. Pretorious said that extra classes sponsored by a mining concern were discontinued without any explanation.

TOPICS:  Education Society

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