Are we giving birth to dull kids?

Oh well, the junior school results came out again two weeks ago and once more, they are nothing to write home about. In fact, most of the candidates have since moved on to ‘bigger’ schools and by now they should be settling down, adjusting to their new schools.

Just like the previous year, the results were bad, with fewer than five students attaining merit passes.

No one seems to have any immediate solution, the students themselves are clueless. A week ago I met with one of them who lives up my street. The boy attained a grade C and has been admitted at one of the schools in Gaborone. Shrugging off his shoulders as I asked him about his performance and that of his school, the boy told me that he thought the problem lies with his school. I asked him why and he replied with a simple, “just”.

I always remind my children that they are lucky, extremely lucky not to have been brought up by my father. I know I am not alone on this one when I say that although back in the days our parents were not as hands on as today’s parents, they took great interest in our school reports! Theirs was an obsession. Our parents would allow you to run amok and do whatever you wanted throughout the term (as long as you did your chores at home) but the last day of school was their time to shine as they demanded your report!


Speaking of the last day of school, this day also not only was my worst home but at school too! Any product of the old tough schooling era would tell you that there was this age old tradition where students ‘closed schools’ with other students. On this last day of school, after general cleaning which involved removing everything from the classroom, scrubbing the class before applying candle and paraffin polish, everyone would then gather for the last assembly. At this assembly, we would sing louder than usual, and then listen to the last announcements which often went on and on.  What made these announcements long was the knowledge of what happens after assembly. The custom was that after the last prayer, the principal would then shout “Hip Hip!”, to which the school would respond with a loud,”Hooray”, and this is where the problem was. For these were no ordinary “hoorays”, hooray meant a hot slap or kick, or even both on anyone within your arm or foot’s reach! In my entire schooling life at primary school, I was victim to this cruel practice only once. I wonder whether this is still practiced at government school, whether vulnerable children are still not protected from primary school bullies, or whether students still get home on the last day of school at break neck speeds?

Getting home, the ordeal would be far from over. Because then we would have to surrender our sealed reports to our parents. My father had his own end of term ritual. On this day, all the children in my extended family would all surrender their reports to my father. Once he returned home from work, he would first go behind the house to harvest a few whips before going through the pile of reports, one by one.

The clever ones would place theirs strategically at the bottom, hoping that by the time their turn came he would be tired. It didn’t always work, because most of the time, by the time he got to last reports he would have been fired up and very angry! Luckily for my own children, I don’t practice that old age family tradition on them because if I did, I am sure they would have long run away from home. Which makes me think; could this be the greater problem, that today’s parents are no longer in full control, or could it be that we are simply just giving birth to dull children nowadays?

How come others pass and others fail? Last year I credited the failing rate to non-involvement by parents, but this year I am not so sure anymore. Worse, I reasoned that the modern parent, especially the one in town, is busy living their own life, too busy to care about their child; but how come the results show that town children performed way better than those in the rural villages? I think it is time we accepted that our generation is just busy giving birth to not so bright children. Our parents fared much better.

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