Urgent intervention needed against GSS student violence!
Stories carried by this publication about the grip of Yizo Yizo style student gangs at Gaborone Senior Secondary School (GSS) do not only read like the script of the popular 1999 South African series, but highlight the same concerns about the break down in the learning culture, the helplessness of teachers, students and teachers.
It is not clear why a school in Botswana, a country often ranked sky high for democracy and rule of law by international indices- would sound like a violent prison, and with nothing seeming to be done about it. We hear that violence, drug abuse and brazen disobedience of authority are the order of the day at the school, and each time this publication follows up the story- no urgency seems to be attached to issue.
This is particularly remarkable if you consider that education in the country is already bedeviled by a lot of issues, chief among them- the bad results that are continuously posted by schools at all levels of our education system. Teachers at the school have expressed the apparent lack of interest from the Ministry of Education, after several of their colleagues and students were injured by the hooligans. While concerns have been raised at PTA meeting, with some parents urging the Ministry to take action, it, for its part suggested that the students should be rehabilitated instead of being expelled from the school.
While we accept that counseling and other interventions have their use, it is concerning that in the face of a tense and rowdy environment like GSS, the relevant stake holders are still dilly dallying instead of coming up with meaningful interventions which will guarantee the day to day safety of students and teachers.
We take this opportunity to call on the school’s Parents and Teachers Association to engage the school management on how it can help rescue this volatile situation. Instead of being a mere talk shop, the PTA should pressure management to come up with specific actionable short term and long term interventions and ensure that they are implemented. As stakeholders in the education and welfare of their children, parents should not place excessive trust in government red tape and leave the issue to the authorities alone. They too need to come up with interventions in the interim.
In fact, parents of students who go to the school and other members of the public in Gaborone Central should engage Botswana Police on how they can help secure the safety of students, teachers and property in the school. If this means a group of fathers of GSS students volunteering to do spot checks at the school at certain prearranged times intervals, or parents and authorities agreeing to engage security companies and other such practical measures, so be it.
It would be harrowing that after so many children were lost in the Matsha tragedy, others would be left to the devices of social misfits who we understand have thrown teachers of school flats as well as vandalizing school property. The situation at GSS is preventable, and while the ministry seems to be treating it as completely normal, parents should worry everyday and ask themselves if their children, and indeed teachers, are safe enough.
It is not clear what is causing the upsurge of the gangsterism rife GSS, but whatever it is, it is a bad omen for a country which should be celebrating peace and tranquility as a corner stone of its existence for 50 years. All stakeholders should be careful not to waste time and allow the possibility of fatal injuries to students or anyone who works at GSS. We also call on Gaborone Central member of parliament Phenyo Butale to engage the school management on bringing a lasting solution.