A parallel world for Girl, 15, of Jules High*

2010-11-20 14:11

It’s exams and Girl, 15, of Jules High is on her way to school in a taxi. There’s no exam that day but the teachers have arranged extra lessons for the following week’s rigours. Before she started high school Girl, 15, had researched good schools.

Her family, like many others in Chiawelo, wanted to school her outside of the dysfunction of township schools and she chose Jules High as the best within the price range.

And it had been a good choice. The principal, Mr Van Vuuren, was dedicated to old school principles: on time, in class and relevant education for his young wards. He ran a tight ship where teachers supervised learners from the start of the school day until the very end.

There was no time for loitering as 2010 had been a disruptive year, what with the strike and with the long holidays occasioned by the Fifa World Cup. So the Jules High learners were in class, swotting over their books in the old-fashioned way. The teachers kept a professional distance from the learners but their ­curriculum was modified by modernity itself.

So, in Life Orientation there were open and spirited discussions on sex and sexuality. With the aid of the education department the school had learner material that taught these mature-beyond-their-years young teenagers about the 21st century birds and the bees, where waiting until you’re married (or at least deeply in love) is as out of fashion as first-version Nokia ­mobile phones.

The teachers knew their young sheep were sexually active from a very young age and that they required realistic shepherding. So, they were taught about the unrealistic images from MTV, which often glorify gang-rape and early sexualisation. They were taught to delay their first time and to see sex as an activity for a loving relationship. And with a platter of extramural activities, including at least six sports codes, the teachers exhausted the rampaging hormones to send the learners back in the taxi too tired for anything except supper and ­another set of revision, ready to conquer the exam and the world.

Meanwhile, government had also seen research showing the average age of first sexual activity was getting younger and younger so it had amended the Sexual Offences Act, which incorrectly labelled underage sex as rape.

* This is an alternative story of what could have been for Girl, 15, of Jules High, who was raped by video and by the system in the past fortnight. She has missed her exams.

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