It took me quite a while to decide on what to write this week until I saw a news item on the South African based TV station E, about a mother who got crashed to death in a stampede outside the gates of the University of Johannesburg.
The unfortunate mother had come to hand in application forms for her child when she met her death. Seeing her body lying still on the grounds of the university, I could not help but think of the fact that she died in the process of ensuring that her child accesses quality education. If you don’t think that is love, then I really pity you.
Schools across the country re-opened at the beginning of this week and I found myself reminiscing on the strong words that wise and caring parents often told their children as they left for school. I must admit I was a beneficiary of such words of wisdom at every beginning of the term from my mother.
On such occasions, she would firmly urge me to remember to work hard and not to bring shame to her in any way while at school. Any child with a functioning brain would tell that those words carried so much weight. They were not mere accompaniments to the ritual of farewell but wise counsel to be ignored at one’s own peril.
Back in the day, it was common for one to make rounds checking on uncles, aunties and older cousins before heading back to school. The trick was that, on mentioning that you were returning to school soon, your host would feel obliged to pass you some pocket money to take to school but not without a reminder of what you is expected of you.
Anyone who cared to know that you were in school would use the chance to remind you of the importance of hard work and discipline while echoing the common African adage about, ‘a child being raised by a village.’
What I often learnt from those parting words was that, in the first place, I was expected to work hard while at school. Good grades never came on a silver plate; students had to put in time and effort, in order to reap big at the end of the term.
The other hidden message was that our parents were indeed stakeholders in our education. If indeed a parent forks out large chunks of their money to ensure that their child gets a good education, then they have every right to urge you not to put it to waste.
Those parting remarks were also always pregnant with the reminder that it was important for you to maintain high levels of discipline while at school so as not to shame your parents and family in general. Once someone has bothered to put you in school, all they need to see is a good report card at the end of the school term and not hear summons from the school’s disciplinary master.
It is always very embarrassing and demeaning for a parent to work hard, spend money on school fees only to get called from his duties weeks later, to report to school and listen to a disciplinary case of a misbehaved child. These people certainly have better things to do.
The mother of all messages embedded in those parental parting shots and, I am sure many parents continue to make the same call to their children to this day, was that education is the key to success and a visa to an improved life in future. With this, parents were simply trying to make it crystal clear that education was the only chance children had to lay the foundation for improving their lives. Only a fool would squander such an opportunity.
Let those who have ears hear and take heed of what their parents say to them before they go to school. One word to the wise is enough.