An ice cold beer next to the school sports field, a glass of crisp white wine at a valediction, craft beers at the school market day. For some, this will sound like heaven. Others would be repelled by the idea. Should parents be allowed to enjoy an alcoholic beverage on school grounds? If so, should they bring their own or should they be able to buy it from the school?
The Sunday Times yesterday reported that a proposed amendment to the law will allow Western Cape schools to sell alcoholic drinks on school grounds during events where adults are present, such as sports and functions.
The draft bill in question, open for public comments, aims to change the Western Cape Provincial School Education Act 12 of 1997, to reportedly raise funds for the school. Western Cape MEC for Education Debbie Schäfer told the Sunday Times: "We cannot escape the reality that some parents like to have wine at cocktail parties, for example. The current legislation even prohibits that. People are welcome to make suggestions as to how we can limit abuse, but still allow freedom of choice."
The idea is that schools should be free to choose whether to sell booze at functions or not.
It's almost surreal that this would be proposed in the Western Cape: the province with its long history of oppression through the "dop" system (grape farm workers were paid in wine instead of money), the province with the highest incidence of foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), where violence and abuse fuelled by alcohol is rife.
Last year, the Western Cape Health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, said in her 2015/2016 budget speech that the incidence of alcohol abuse was "unacceptably high" in the province. She said the Western Cape government had "seen the devastating effects of alcohol and substance abuse" and that it placed an enormous burden on the healthcare system, costing the government R17 billion, reported Health24.
It's no secret: in South Africa, and the Cape in particular, teens and adults are boozing.
So if parents are regularly consuming alcohol already, why stop them from doing so at certain school functions, especially if it can bulk up the school chest? Especially since Schäfer promised that certain conditions would be included to protect children?
Well. Firstly, how would a school know that its parents will drink in moderation? How do you handle that one or several parents who can't handle their drink? Do you hire additional security for the event? How do you deal with the victimisation of the child/ren who were publicly humiliated by their parents' bad behaviour? What about possible damage to the school facilities, let alone drunken brawls and physical injuries?
How do you police which matriculants are 18 and allowed a drink, and who not?
I like my glass of wine and if I'm offered one at a school function, I'd think it grand. But to have a bar where the school sells booze? I think it's a bad idea.
How do you feel about the draft proposal? Do you think it's a good way for schools to raise funds and let everyone enjoy themselves? Or should schools and alcohol not mix? Vote below and send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may publish them.