It takes the whole vil­lage to raise a child

CityPress - - Voices - Madimetja Mo­got­lane voices@city­press.co.za Mo­got­lane is a pub­lic ser­vant

One of my high school mem­o­ries is of my prin­ci­pal or­der­ing me to shave my dread­locks off. I found his or­ders pe­cu­liar, as I saw noth­ing wrong with my hair­style.

I was at the zenith of my adolescence, char­ac­terised by in­fer­nal im­pu­dence, and chal­lenged him to give me money to please his de­mands. I knew in­wardly that I dis­ap­pointed him with my crude re­sponse, since he had in­vested his trust in me, both ed­u­ca­tion­ally and in my promis­ing soc­cer ca­reer.

I liked my dread­locks a lot. The girls were crazy about the bleached mop on my head, and I es­pe­cially en­joyed hear­ing their spon­ta­neous bois­ter­ous screams on the side­lines of a soc­cer pitch, shout­ing my name every time I had the ball at my feet.

His dis­like of my hair­style didn’t stop and he kept on ca­jol­ing me to go bald. He asked one of the teach­ers to in­ter­vene – the same teacher hap­pened to be my dad’s cousin, and the prin­ci­pal knew very well that I would ul­ti­mately oblige.

One day, when com­ing back from school, I saw a white Toy­ota jalopy parked at my grand­mother’s house. I knew it be­longed to that stooge of a teacher who would pre­clude my free­dom at school.

As hard as I tried to keep look­ing good with my dread­locks, they tried to knock sense into my head about the im­por­tance of lis­ten­ing to my teach­ers. I re­luc­tantly re­lented and opted for a new hair­style.

What brought this vivid mem­ory back is the re­cent de­plorable ac­tions by Gaut­eng school kids who con­de­scend­ingly boy­cotted classes, de­mand­ing to wear skinny pants. Just as I wanted to look good in my dread­locks and re­fused to have a hair pol­icy en­forced on my head, they wanted to be at their el­e­gant best in their tight-fit­ting pants.

To them, their ac­tions, which left teach­ers and par­ents in shame, were im­pec­ca­ble as they wanted to make a fashion state­ment. But, to so­ci­ety, the proverb that “it takes a vil­lage to raise a child” was ren­dered fu­tile.

These are the same young­sters who are en­vis­aged as fu­ture lead­ers but, in­stead of treat­ing school as an in­sti­tu­tion of learn­ing, they turn it into a bas­tion of crime, where cases of beat­ing teach­ers, car­ry­ing weapons to school and bul­ly­ing other pupils are of­ten heard of. I also didn’t like my khaki school uni­form, but I had to wear it – not only be­cause of school pol­icy, but be­cause it pro­moted a cul­ture of ho­mo­gene­ity at school.

As much as I do not blame them for their ac­tions, I think now is the time for teach­ers and par­ents to work in uni­son for the ben­e­fit of pupils’ fu­tures. It is also un­for­tu­nate to state that, even if we can now start teach­ing the present gen­er­a­tion about con­ven­tional be­hav­iour in schools, we re­ally need all the re­sources and power avail­able to in­stil this kind of ed­u­ca­tion into our com­mu­nity.

We may be the­o­log­i­cally di­vided as a coun­try, but I am of the opinion that re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion needs to be rein­tro­duced as one of the sub­jects at schools.

This will serve as a di­vine clar­ion call to what God once proph­e­sied in the book of 2 Chron­i­cles 7:14 when He said: “If my peo­ple, who are called by my name, will hum­ble them­selves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will for­give their sin and will heal their land.”

Gaut­eng Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Panyaza Le­sufi put it suc­cinctly: “Few things in life are as clear as ado­les­cents’ seem­ingly in­nate drive to as­sert their in­de­pen­dent judge­ment of so­cial af­fairs. It is not un­com­mon for mid­dle and high school pupils to chal­lenge var­i­ous man­i­fes­ta­tions of au­thor­ity, and openly voice their opin­ions about the jus­tice of the sit­u­a­tions they en­counter at home and at school.”

I fully align my­self with his sen­ti­ment, that some of this way­ward be­hav­iour is in­flu­enced by the ado­les­cent stage dur­ing which is­sues such as al­co­hol, drugs and crime can con­trib­ute to the pupils’ un­con­ven­tional con­duct.

But teach­ers can­not do it alone. Par­ents must play a pri­mary role and the com­mu­nity should also get in­volved. Af­ter all, it takes the en­tire vil­lage to raise a child.

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