Colleen Figg

'92% set to fail the year'

2007-09-28 08:54

Colleen Figg

The other night an emergency meeting was convened at my daughter's high school (she's in Grade 8). The purpose was for us as the parent-teacher body to decide on a way forward, following disastrous end of term marks across the board for the Grade 8 students.

It was reported by the principal that the behaviour of the Grade 8 classes is almost uniformly obstructive and rebellious, verging on the anarchic. Furthermore, he said, there were hardly any students that could read properly, and their writing and comprehensive skills in the two main languages of English and Afrikaans were worse than sub-standard; with many students not even being able to read aloud from a book and not having the faintest clue what comprehension and précis are all about.

I heard from the principal himself that primary schools are in the habit of pushing up marks and generally covering up for students who are not making the grade, in order for them to make way for the new wave of students coming in for the new year.

This means that if a parent does not make a habit of checking homework and keeping tabs on his child, the chances are he will never know whether his child can really cope or not, until that child gets to Grade 8 and the wheels fall off when the independent exams set by the Department of Education have to be passed.

The Constitution

The chairperson of the governing body then took the floor to report how he and his fellow governing body members spend at least an hour every morning, from 07h30 to 08h30, walking to the nearest shops and student hang-out points to chivvy along students who habitually dragged their heels to class.

He said that often when they encountered these students they were answered with utter disrespect, even sworn at, for trying to insist that they get along to school.

Some students spat at their feet and said that they had no right to try to force them along to school, and that they would get there in their own time. Other students cited their rights as laid down in the Constitution, whereby it is said that children must be treated with respect and dignity; and stated that if someone tried to force them to do something against their collective will, that was in direct infringement of these rights.

It would appear to me that the hard won freedoms so many people fought for; many paying with their lives; are now being abused by ignorant teenagers who have no true concept of freedom, nor of the obligations and responsibilities that go with the 'rights' they so vociferously demand.

It is alarmingly apparent that none of those with the loudest voices have any true concept of freedom, dignity, respect or decency and that they are seemingly quite happy to abuse the system to see that they are allowed to do things on their own terms.

Even more distressing is the short-sighted nature of this particular point of view. While everyone is wasting time at this school, and refusing to work in class, do homework, or in many cases even attend school, is anyone spending any time at all thinking of the future? It will be pretty bleak with no education, is all I can say.

This is not an ordinary teenage rebellion; this is anarchy, with nearly 92% of Grade 8 pupils looking set to fail the year. Where they will go to from there, I dread to speculate.

Send your comments to Colleen.

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