Kieno Kammies from Cape Talk, despite being a Roman Catholic, is pushing the view that condoms should be available in schools. This is in parallel with the report today that a girl has been removed from school for being pregnant, with talk of special arrangements being made for the young father too. Anyway, a fellow phoned in – let’s just call him Malcolm – asking “where it will all end?”. He pointed out that morning sickness will cause class disruptions and the school won’t be able to produce hockey teams, and therefore home schooling should be the preferred option. Apart from which, the government should fix the problem instead of wasting money on expensive cars and hotels.
The logic of Malcolm’s remarks is astounding. Firstly, removal of a learner from the school because of pregnancy doesn’t help the hockey team – whether she’s at school or not, there is still a gap in the team. Secondly, morning sickness only differs from other illnesses and even painful periods in terms of cause – these are all handled in the normal course of events. Thirdly, it’s been shown that government corruption, although extensive in absolute terms, wastes a relatively small percentage of the annual national budget.
Malcolm referred to the death penalty as a lesson in social control, saying that without it, people can go about killing people with reckless abandon – and therefore the same principle applies in this situation i.e. that by accommodating pregnancies in schools, all incentives to remain un-pregnant are removed. I beg to differ with this woolly and reckless thinking. In essence he wants to punish young people and remove opportunities from them because of some sort of transgression of a moral code – a transgression that in his view somehow creates a “stain” on society. I believe that the real solution is to ensure that opportunities for advancement are available to all learners, whatever their circumstances – as the constitution of this country states.
“Where will it all end?” – nurseries and professional childcare in schools with proper community medical support, that’s where. Why not? Many companies do it for their employees. And so learners can see first-hand how to care for infants in a responsible way, they can see the effects and burdens (as well as joys) of such a responsibility on the young parents in an environment that is supportive rather than judgmental. And getting back to Kieno’s condoms, provision of good family planning at schools can make the very real connection between sexual activity and its consequences. As he points out to callers that say “They shouldn’t be having sex at school” – “Sure, but they do – and that’s the reality”. Are schools not meant to be preparation for adulthood, an environment to teach life skills? Then they must step up – use words like “sex”, “penis” and “vagina” (to be fair, even my child’s primary school does) and teach the risks and responsibilities that go with the sexual power that young learners have. And maybe – just maybe – build a generation for whom sex is a life pleasure and community builder rather than a dark, secretive, illicit and often violent act that is tied more to social power and rape in this country.
What’s really at issue here? I reckon it’s a fear of watching a new generation doing things differently to the current one. Malcolm, like millions of others, is afraid of seeing critical and sensitive social issues being managed by society in a way that is foreign to him, that somehow offends his views on the sacrosanct pillars of morality that he’s grown up with, which – let’s face it – were probably based on religion. What this issue does is challenge the idea that preservation of the tenets of religion should be the ultimate objective, rather than achievement of a solution that is practical for society. Such a challenge goes to the roots of how the Malcolms of the world establish their spiritual and emotional equilibrium.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.