One of the greatest challenges South Africa faces is rural poverty and education. This book graphically illustrates the conditions that make the dreams of a better life for all virtually unrealisable in rural areas. Through the voices of rural people themselves, the reader is told not only what the problems are but also what can and should be done. Emerging Voices is a richly documented portrait of the lives of communities in selected rural areas, and specifically their thoughts and feelings about education. It is a book that can come at no better time as South Africa is poised to launch a major offensive against poverty in rural areas. Education, this book shows, must be a central component of such an initiative. Collectively, the chapters illustrate the complexity, interconnectedness and intractability of the challenges that face rural communities and education in South Africa in particular and less developed countries more generally.
It has produced a rigorous and qualitative overview of the problems of rural schooling in the context of rural poverty. Through it, the reader comes to understand better the complexity of the problems of rural communities and schooling and the importance of listening to the voices of the rural poor. It makes clear that there are no magic solutions but does point to a singular conclusion that, the great majority of children in rural poor communities are receiving less than is their right in a democratic South Africa. Worse still, is the fact that this will have long-term effects on their opportunities for development, their capabilities and their lives. Moreover, the communities in which they are will continue to suffer the debilitating effects of poverty and inequality for as long as these problems remain.
Emerging Voices has the potential to enhance informed public discussion, debate and dialogue on the issues raised. Consequently, and given the political will, it has the potential for assisting policy-makers to make meaningful policy and other programmatic interventions to deal with the challenges of rural education and schooling.