Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Journey With Injustice, Part I

After five years in South Africa, I thought I pretty much knew what to expect... and then my daughter entered high school. Unlike in the U.S., high school in South Africa is from Grades 8-12. Many schools require the Grade 8's to go through an initiation during the first week. If you are looking for an American equivalent, it's akin to what university students who want to join a fraternity or sorority must go through - hazing.
haze, v. To subject (freshmen, newcomers, etc.) to abusive or humiliating tricks and ridicule.
My daughter had to wear her uniform inside out and backwards, paint her face to look like a clown, wear three ponytails in her hair and a large nametag the size of a paper plate with ridiculous information written on it, and she was not allowed to wear shoes. She was made to walk barefoot on hot cement, had to hold hands with other random Grade 8's and march around the school, was subjected to long hours at school, and had to ask permission to greet anyone, addressing them as "Commander" or "Admiral". The worst part was when she had to spend the weekend at school, was deprived of sleep, made to write a test on the history of the school at four in the morning and then shouted at for not performing well. Needless to say, the result of this week left my daughter in tears every day, terrified of making a mistake, fearful of every teacher and Grade 12 student, and not wanting to attend school ever again. What happened to the "Learning is Fun" mantra that is part of the American mindset? Are different countries' systems of education that different?

I was shocked. I was horrified. I wanted to howl and throw a temper tantrum and cry "Unfair!" I paced in my kitchen. I ranted and raved to no one in particular. I was angry. I wanted to give the school - and the whole country - a piece of my mind. This was unjust!

But what to do?

1 comment:

Nikita said...

This is ridiculous! Spent time at school over the weekend... what happened to my poor country [since I left]... it wasn't like this a couple of years ago... silly school and silly Gr12's. It was all good fun when I was at school, we laughed and everyone else thought we were looking silly [including ourselves], but at school and 4 am a test...madness and no 'method in it'.

I agree walking bare feet on the South African hot cement is NO joke. If I were you, I would have gone to the headteacher and complain. I remember myself - those Gr12's looked like BEAFY men from beyond space to me! and the girls... they looked like 30 yr-olds [scary] [I was quite 'small']

Do go to the head, it doesn't do the children ANY good to treat them like this. Ponytails and face painting is ok, but....there are limits to everything. I hope she is OK!