Monday, August 24, 2009
Due to car trouble I arrived late at school last week Thursday. Pulling into the parking lot I immediately sensed that something was going on. Entering the main schoolyard my intuitions were confirmed even though it was class time, students were standing around everywhere, chanting, singing and waving signs. This was strange.
The staffroom was abuzz with activity when I walked in. Teachers talking amongst themselves, others trying to create order. I asked a colleague what was going on.
‘The students are on strike,’ she replied.
On strike? I was surprised and amused at the same time. ‘Why?’ I asked her.
‘They are demanding their reports, they are demanding teachers, they are demanding to be taught.’
I went out into the schoolyard to speak to some students. I was the only teacher out there as the rest were seeking refuge in the staffroom or their offices. Here I saw messages that had been scrawled on pieces of paper, cardboard, wood – anything they could find. Messages such as ‘Fezeka has failed us’, ‘We demand physics teachers!’ and ‘We we want to apply for Varsity! Where are our reports?!’ were taped to doorways of classrooms and held high in the air while students chanted and sung songs of struggle and resistance in their mother tongues. (Needless to say I needed an interpreter to learn that these were what they were.)
Although my heart has swelled with pride for various reasons in the past, but the way in which it did so upon learning this information was different. I couldn’t believe it. They were putting their feet down and demanding the education they deserve. I was excited.
As discussed in previous blogs, the issue of teacher absenteeism and neglect is rife at our school, and I have been an active proponent of encouraging students to speak out against these injustices. For the most part my appeals have been just that, but it appeared that today was different. And the students were acting on their own volition! The issue of reports was because the students had not yet received any reports for the school year – not from March when they are supposed to be issued their first reports, not from June when they are to be issued their second reports. While no students have received their reports, the June reports are of particular importance to the Grade 12s as it is post-secondary institutions require students to submit them with their applications. It is now mid August.
There are a couple reasons why students had not yet received their reports. First and foremost is that there are some teachers who have not yet submitted their marks – for neither the first or second term. Secondly, there is the issue of teachers who do not come to school or leave midway or halfway through the term and do not return, feeling no sense of obligation to finish marking their exams or submitting marks
In an effort to appease the unrest, hurriedly-printed and inaccurate reports were distributed to students. I am still unclear on who made the decision to do this, and how they could have possibly thought the students would accept them. Of course they did not, and the strike continued for 2 more days.
On Friday after school the School Governing Board met with the entire staff, members of the Learner Representative Council and community members to reach a decision on how to move forward. It was decided at this meeting that teachers would not leave that evening until reports were properly assembled and marks recorded so that students could be issued their reports the following Monday. A group of us stayed at school until close to 6pm, trying to make order of the piles of incomplete mark lists, lacking marks because the teachers who were responsible for recording them had not done so or were no longer a part of the Fezeka family.
By Tuesday reports had been reissued and things had calmed down somewhat. Caught up with my own students and various after school activities I neglected to follow up with students to see if they were satisfied with their updated reports. As I did not hear anything to the contrary I assumed the matter was resolved. I was wrong.
It is now the second week of September and many students still have yet to receive accurate reports. As I sit in the office typing this there is a stack of reports next to me that list students having passed all their courses but because of a computer error (?) the result at the bottom of the page still lists them as not promoted. I am at a loss.
The student strike was indeed the first step in the right direction towards students taking their education into their own hands and sending a message that they refuse to put up with sub-standard education. Unfortunately, as is oft the case with expressions of discontent, this first step must be followed by many more in order to actually get someplace. I sincerely hope they have the courage to continue to demand their rights.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
What follows are a few outstanding examples of essays that my Grade 11 students wrote as part of their June exam. The question or topic they are responding to is written above the respective essays.
[Media Awareness] Today more than ever in history, young people are exposed to endless forms of the media [television, radio, movies, magazines, music, Internet] and advertising.
Write an essay describing what effect you think the media has on young people. Is it a positive or a negative thing? Be sure to support your point of view with evidence and examples from your life and experience.
Media have changed peoples life especially us as young people.
TV has drag us to make wrong desicions because we want to follow the fame and don’t want to listen to our biological parents. Since the media have been allowed to show everything we are falling apart.
People now don’t want to attend school because of media. Some of them they see easy ways of getting money, those ways are not good, killing people, robbing innocent people because they have been exposed to easy ways by media.
Children are carrying guns in streets, smoking in streets because they see States boys doing those things on TV and that’s not that they thinks it is, because states boys are just acting or casting movies when they do that.
Some parent are killing their children like media parents play big role on getting behind media are a big support. How can you let your child watch TV all night but you are in the house? You call yourself a lovely parent you are killing your child future.
Children are bunking schools today even here in my school they say we are coming from rich families like USA countries that’s what media encourage? I’d better not be involved in media in my life.
Children are making stress their mothers because of what have seen on TV like clothes, shoes they put their mothers unders a lot of pressure wanting those things.
In all media has demolished our lives we must try to make a plan before this thing of media goes further.
[Community change] Many young people turn to crime, violence or engage in unprotected sex (putting them at risk for STIs, HIV/AIDS and pregnancy) our of boredom. What do you think can be done to help lessen this problem? What are some suggestions that you may have for what communities, schools, youth groups and families can do to help prevent the boredom that leads youth to taking part in these activities?
Write an essay discussing three ideas you have to help keep young people away from crime, violence and sex at an early age, and how you think these ideas can help change the future.
In my essay i will be talking about commit change and what i think can be done to help solve this problem and violence and drugs.
Many young people turn to doing crime in many ways because of the drugs they are doing drugs are so bad especially on young people cause they engage themselves on bad thing and end up hurting people who are close to each other like hurting a community members you end up hurting the whole family. And drugs are not good at all because when you are using drugs you are killing yourself and orthers around you and you will end up going to prison cause you will be caught with a drug and you will be not in a good place there it will not be the life you use to live when you were outside stop using drug young people drugs are not good at all.
Young people end up engaging themselves in violence and unprotected sex and they get infected with disease like stis and HIV and Aids and remember you are still young to get involved in sex and stuff. You end up being dead cause you will be infected with Aids and it kills there is no cure for it so as a young person dont engage yourself in those things. and also teenage pregnancy is also one of thsoe problems experienced by young people.
In order for young people to stop engaging themselves in those bad things they do they must focus on the important thing happening in their lives like doing their home chores, spending time with their family and spend much more time on their school work because education is the key to success and by focussing on their educati they will experience big things beautiful things are get a decent job and have a big family and being parent so young people stop engaging yourselves in bad things.
I am going to talk about the changing of youth thoughts which lead to a bad life and then regret it.
Most of youth involve to all this stuffs under certain circumstances. Some is becuase of poverty and some is choosing bad friends and not listerning to their parents and their fall in huge mistakes which their can't afford to handle and they finishing killing themselves.
I think as South Afircans especially parents must stand against these problems to save their childrens because most of parents have fell a deep pain about their childrens choosing a wrong path. Because everywhere in the world people are facing these challanges in order fix this matter we must stand up and fight it.
Communities, schools, youth groups and families as i have mentioned above we must come witha new system to the youth lifes for instance in schools there must be mroe say and teach the youth about the way to success before ruining their lives
I think all this kind of drugs can be ended maybe some of the youth will stop what their started doing.
My essay i think can make a huge difference in on life before choosing a wrong path.
[Hope for the future] Apartheid officially ended in South Africa in 1994 yet today, 14 years later, there is still a big difference in how many people in this country live. What are your thoughts on this? How does this make you feel? Do you think South Africa will ever be a country where all of its people live equally?
Write an essay describing your thoughts on this, examples from your life to support your view and what you think it will take or can be done to create a truly equal and free Rainbow Nation.
In this essay i am going to write about the Hope of this country and it's future as well, and how do i see this state we are livig in as an African.
In South Africa our country the are many different types of races and they treat others different to others.
Discrimination in our countryt is a living thing. Many people feel ofended by others almost every day in this democratic country of us. we as africans are discriminated by other groups like other whites still have racism i know it from me last mont i went to a party in Good Wood we were waiting for our transport to pick us up about 2am and as we are waiting police white police came to us and searched us and they got nothing and they opened the spray guns and the choking guns to us. And told us that this is not our fucken Guguleth and sad to me you are now in the boors place there's no (kak) they don't take (kak) so i still see this country as a racis and a country that has no good future amongst the races we live with everyday.
Equality is a thing that a black person will find once in a while. i see this as a useless relatiship and ended up being understanded by the others who come from the overseas countries not those we live with in everyday life.
So people must not just do anything to others because God knows the prosperity of a person.
The black alws feel offended so as this is happening this discrimination i say so i dont think our country can have a good future because in our every day life the must be a big stone un front of us. Why Africans? Why our people?
If you as a new person in this country can just go to our places and just look you'll have/see a big difference with the whites are living in.
The black singer called (Mzwakhe Mbuli) has a song saying (Nobakunini Kuzokulungo), no matter when everything will be fine so a black person alwys say it will be better. People use to say blacks used to be a race that suffers but i dont think it is over or that i am mistaken about the way life is to our people.
In this essay i have written about the thing that our people expirience in their daily life but no offence!
[Personal Growth and Development] “It was at that moment that I knew my life would change forever.”
Write an essay in which this sentence appears. Be sure to describe the event that caused you to feel this way and how your life changed as a result, for better or for worse.
The time I knew it all, all the drama I have been through I never though I’ll make it that it would change from who I was to who I am I thought I had it all from my friend’s rapist, alcoholic mother and an abusive boyfriend that turned my life around.
It was drama only. We were scare, hurt and shocked at the sametime. My friend was rape in the room next to mind I just couldn’t believe I felt I have betrayed her but no. She couldn’t sream for help and I dint to couse we woud have been dead can you image a gang rape? Those scard, angry eyes of those men it was if I was dreaming a nightmare but no then trashed naked on the stadium OH it was painful.
At home I couldn’t focuse, I was so distracted my mind was seeng hearing my friends pain at the samtime percuted by my alcoholic mother who drank every night sleeping with not even knowing their names, so I have to search for her every inch of corner tarven to tarven I was stressed, alone and bored I life. I needed love.
I mean love of support so I turned to this guy. As I was confused and stress I told him everything all about my life he ment the world I was just hideng those stress by being with him and it go worse. He started being abusi emotional verbal and physical as I dint see it at first I thought he loved me it got worse lost my 1 ear hearing and sight now I knew it was enough.
I wrapped but my things under-go council at my community and realise the way more to life than that I found love, love that I feel by my self.
IT WAS AT THAT MOMENT THAT I KNEW MY LIFE WOULD CHANGE
The soft summer breeze came in softly to the ghastly sun shining over the horizon. Making my way home from school, it was on the same day on which I learnt a very cruel lesson. I still knew that this would happen but not like it did, well it was at that moment that i knew my life would change.
My home is situated on the crescent valley of Leloaleng near the historical cave of Mesotho, Masitise. I was in love with Dibuseng, the chiefs daughter and had been told many times to back off, but it was as if instead of blood I had iron fillings flowing through my vein and someone was holding a large piece of magnet over her and nothing could separate Dibuseng and I.
We were strolling near the tarred road that zig-zagged like a huge snake. At one point we sank seemingly in merriment as we carresed each other. We were so mesmerised that we were oblivious of an intruder. It was at that point that the most unspeakable tragedy unfolded before my eyes.
As we walked a black BMW 320i model pulled up a few metres away from us. The big man walked flamboyantly to us. He did not greet but kissed and hugged Dibuseng and told her to go to the car and instantaneously pulled a gun from his waist and told me to seat. My mind was numb as this horrendous drama happened. He said in this hoarse voice "stay away from my wife because next time i will kill you," and fired eight bullets on my knees. It was at that moment when my life changed.
I do not recall what happened afterwards but woke up in hospital and told that my life will be spent in a wheelchair. Since then I have never loved a woman and all my dreams have been torn apart my life has veritably changed. That horrendous drama changed my life forever. Since then I have not been very coherent, I have changed.