Salomo Ndeyamunye yaNdeshimona
As the Namibian school calendar winds up and we write our final examinations, many schools have experienced the worst behavioural revolts.
It is nearly normal for learners to change their behaviour, attitude and acts when many are writing their end-year-examinations. Mostly, the change in attitude is never positive. A minority embrace this opportunity as a life-changing occurrence of their life, while others see it as the end of days.
Musician Omzoo once sang “Osikola is over”. This opinion piece will dangle around the expression shared in his masterpiece music, Osikola is over, meaning the school is over. In his music, he narrated the hardship of after-school life, and how he played when he was in school. Metaphoric music to educate us not to play with school.
It is at this year-juncture that some Namibian schools experience the worst anxiety amongst learners, as they fear the outcome of the final examinations in grades 11 or 12.
They end up hallucinating and experiencing the worst kind of episode of nervousness, which sometimes leads to suicide, and hospitalisation, whilst some have resorted to seek refuge in church and prayer to find any kind of help they can secure. I am no psychologist. Thus, I will leave that to them to figure out a way we can deal with and handle it. Mental health is a topic of its own.
However, of late, it has played a colossal role in societies, and it affects almost you and me equally.
This article centres around behavioural change in our learners.
The chameleon-like change from well-behaved learners to the worst behaviour that one can ever tolerate. Our learners turn violent and barbaric, leading to them vandalising school property, bullying others and fighting, which has lately led to big losses and injuries.
School buildings have been vandalised in many schools, by the learners who have been using them for ages, and who look forward to having the future generation use the same facilities, despite the state in which (they) vandals leave them. The notion of “osikola is over” seems to mean the school is over for me.
Thus, I have no reason to leave the school intact, as it is of no need. Even nomads never destroyed their shelter when they trekked on, but for these 21st century learners, it’s a fashion to destroy the school and leave it in the worst state one can ever imagine.
Nomads always think futuristic, as they may come the same way again, and our grade 11s of last year learned this lesson as they were made to re-write after the exam leak of a century.
Windows, graffiti on walls, ceilings, toilet pots, beds, lockers, mattresses and so on are disfigured to a point that when a sane person looks on, their heart bleeds.
These scenes are common in our schools, although some reach the newsroom and are reported to the authorities, and actions are taken. The rest are left for the school to do minor renovations, year in and year out.
It is time that we put our heads together as a nation, and look after what is ours as public schools are the worst victims in this scenario. Many culprits have gotten away with this for years, and schools are left wrecked.
Our education ministry has passed circulars and directives that schools should not withhold learners’ reports or certificates, as it’s tantamount to denying them education.
Despite the claim being partially true, the school suffers, and the government is forced into extra spending to repair broken school property.
There is a need for a law that would hold these unruly learners accountable for any damage they cause.
Although it is hard to catch them in the act and prove their crime, as they use the night cover, at least if one can be held accountable, it will deter others, and act as an example.
It’s time schools invest in surveillance to catch culprits. If caught, we should consider withholding their national certificate and statement of results until they have accounted for the damages.
We shall also look into making them pay the full examination fee that the ministry had paid on their behalf.
We shall look into blacklisting these unruly learners, and depriving them of any benefit such as study funding with NSFAF.
After all, it’s a privilege and not a right. An alternative to corporal punishment advice is that we withdraw privileges, instead of punishing learners physically.
We shall also look into opening police cases, as these are criminal acts, and the law is clear on them.
However, most importantly, we should raise awareness, and involve all stakeholders to play a role in educating our learners and children to act as responsible citizens.
Media houses would also come on board and raise awareness on this. Parents should play their advisory and upbringing role, and educate their children at home.
All in all, we should assist schools in safeguarding the government properties in their custody.
Thus, we should advise them to enact laws within their school rules and policies that are strict on dealing with this ill-behaviour. I also call on our education ministry to add their voice to this cry as they will be louder and not diminutive as this one, or so I shall submit.