Recently, sections of the media reported on robberies committed on some patrons after they would have left a fair held by a leading city school. While the criminal attacks were horrendous, also worrying were reports alleging unacceptable events unfolded within the confines of the school.
Reportedly, lewd music blared and the event prolonged late into the night. While these can be deemed as normal for certain types of events across the country, in this scenario, an institution of learning was the host. If the reports are true, and it should be noted that there has been no official contesting of what the media reported, then it is nothing short of being unacceptable.
Such a situation raises many questions. In planning the event, the organisers would have been expected to decide on the duration, more particularly, the close-off time. That information would have been a prerequisite for the purpose of Police permission, if necessary given that the venue is a school. Accepting that it was discussed and decided, the question of monitoring and implementation was, therefore, unavoidable.
Ultimately, the big question is: how could such music be allowed to play at a school event, which was apparently allowed to drag on late into the night? Unfortunately, that may not be a unique situation. There were concerns raised in the past over the conduct of some school events, including sports.
Regarding school sports, there were reported incidents of alcoholic beverages being consumed. While that could not have been a decision of the school, somehow liquor found its way inside. It could have also been possibly bought and taken in by some students. Whatever the source, and again if the reports are true, it speaks to a lack of monitoring mechanisms at some of these events.
In addition, concerns have been raised over some students being involved in other acts considered to be illegal or unacceptable for schools during official events. Only recently, it was discovered that ecstasy pills were being sold in some schools. This is frightening to say the least in the context of children being exposed and influenced and the negative repercussions possible.
It must be pointed out that many schools execute events that are free from such unacceptable behaviour. By and large, there are strong and meaningful relationships between teachers and the Parent-Teachers Associations (PTAs) that work for the best interest of the students and the schools. School events can effectively be executed as just that – school events. Other schools can, therefore, learn from those schools succeeding in this regard.
Over time, many have raised concerns about music laced with lewdness and incitement of violence. Public transportation, which many students use, is not free from this. Much has been said about the minibus “culture” of loud music, overloading and the alleged airing of adult content through DVDs – which is attractive to some schoolchildren.
The influence from this poses tremendous challenges to all with serious implications for society in the long run. It makes it difficult to dismiss any semblance of a direct correlation between violence and lewdness in some schools and the music and images the students are exposed to.
This is in no way suggesting that children can be completely insulated from these influences. That in itself brings its own challenges. While parents will do their utmost for such insulation, the reality of aspects of public transportation, easy access to undesirable content and the influence of some students through peer pressure are formidable to withstand.
Many schools have incorporated the use of digital technology to aid learning, with some allowing the use of personal devices. Nothing is wrong with that: adapting to an ever-changing world. That suggests clear and practical mechanisms are needed to try and ensure, as far as possible, that the technical tools are used for academic learning. It is not going to be easy, but the authorities need to begin engaging all involved to help derive the best possible solutions.
Monitoring of school events must be mandatory and if measures cannot be effectively implemented, then strong consideration must be given to not holding the activity. This, if not a current policy, must be made one across the board. This is where the Education Ministry must take a firm position and be seen to be involved in the process. By extension, the Police should ensure, by policy, schools’ fundraising events do not exceed a certain time in the evening.
There was an expectation that following the school fair in question, the Ministry would have been forthcoming with a statement either denying or denouncing what transpired with a firm position of it being unacceptable with clear guidelines given going forward. In addition, the organisers should have been asked to explain what transpired and corrective action taken where necessary.
The absence of such, at least in the public domain, could suggest that the incident was trivial and could embolden those who were involved. That does not augur well for the efforts to keep schools free from such influences.