ISSUES AT STAKE: Pupils are Davids in a world of Goliaths

PEOPLE don’t commit suicide because they want to die; they do it because they don’t want to live.

More so the fact with children, who are born with an inherent instinct to laugh, play and have fun.

How tragic, then, that an 11-year-old primary school learner should decide his young life is not worth living (as reported in our front page article last week).

It is not our place to go into the reasons behind this tragedy, or to apportion blame – a thorough investigation by the police and Department of Education will no doubt follow swiftly.

What is worth comment, and the subject of this discourse, is the tremendous pressure on learners and their parents to fulfil all the responsibilities relating to schooling.

Take the financial burden, for example.

So many people have been retrenched and putting food on the table is a battle.

Sometimes there is simply no money for school fees, extramural activities, project material and a host of other school extras.

The child then gets to bear the brunt of teacher/staff pressure and embarrassment or teasing from his/her peers.

Add to that the heavy homework load that inevitably ends up being the joint responsibility of the parents; not to mention the projects that require working into the early hours.

What then about those parents who work shifts and are not there to supervise and assist with homework and projects?

In fact, they might scarcely see their children while on certain shifts.

When do they then get the chance to talk about school and to learn of any problem or need the child might be experiencing?

It is welcome to note there are moves afoot to do away with homework entirely, as in other countries.

Children would then be free to participate in sport, or to simply have the time to be children at play.

The point is, it’s tough enough being a learner or a parent… or a teacher for that matter, as the demands escalate.

But three facts remain.

The first is that pupils should never be ridiculed or singled out for matters that are their parents’ responsibility, such as school fees, books, uniforms, and so on.

The second is that teachers should empower their learners – as opposed to exerting power over them.

That’s called bullying.

And it is terrifying to children who have neither the strength nor capability to oppose it.

Thirdly, parents should try as much as is possible to stay in touch with what is happening in the lives of their precious offspring.

Dave Savides

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