EDITORIAL | SA’s locked-down youth have become our teachers

Ideas

EDITORIAL | SA’s locked-down youth have become our teachers

Adults should take to heart these ingenious and challenging insights from young South Africans

Editorial
Image: 123RF/luckybusiness

If you think all The Youth are sitting around idly during lockdown, chewing up bandwidth on Snapchat and Tik-Tok and driving their parents to the brink of insanity with their demanding boredom while waiting to hear when, if ever, schools will reopen, you are wrong.

In SA, a group of teenagers have collaborated remotely to build the website Ukuzibuza, which means “to ask oneself”.

Their mandate is to create a space for expression. “This website was created with the many high school students seeking a sense of productivity from home in mind,” they say. 

They want to “continue the process of learning far beyond the classroom” and “extensively convey the many thoughts of people our age”.

These thoughts might surprise some adults. 

Neo Khambule submitted a letter titled “Validating Social Movements” which interrogates the #menaretrash campaign.

Neo asks: “What should you do when you are the target of a movement that you want to support? The first, and arguably most important thing, is to acknowledge why this movement exists, and what role you have or haven’t played in that – both currently and historically. With that base understanding, it is extremely difficult to go wrong. 

“The second thing is to know that by supporting a movement, cause, or viewpoint which targets you, you are identifying with a group of people that expect change or action from you, and you need to be willing to accept that responsibility. 

Merging under-performing and higher-performing schools would transform inequality of opportunity in the system.
Ruby de Lanerolle

“Embracing this responsibility may take the form of internal change as well as trying to influence others – your family, friends, school, etc. There are many ways to participate in and inspire social change.”

Ruby de Lanerolle contributed a plan for reducing educational inequality. 

“Merging under-performing and higher-performing schools would transform inequality of opportunity in the system,” she wrote. 

“This would consist of combining the schools’ students, teachers and finances, and using both locations. The original schools would become one school run from two locations. The better resourced school sites would still offer superior infrastructure and amenities (at least within the short term), so in order to promote equality, the students would change location on a weekly basis.”

Jo Theo’s moving poem about abandonment, Poached, contains these lines:

next time 
He won’t knock
i need to remember to lock 
He can’t see who i’ve become 
i can’t believe who i’ve become 

nothing but a figure
whose name is never known 
and game never shown 

a place holder
a restless being
a broken doll
a fatherless soul 

Young people can post whatever they like on this forum. In a music review of Mac Miller’s posthumous album, Circles, Sazi Bongwe writes: “Mac Miller deserved more days. Yet, the value he expresses in a single day comforts me more than anything else. I know that for as few days as Malcolm got, he made the most of every single one of them, and in doing so touched an innumerable number of lives. I challenge each of you to do the same.”

There are many more heartfelt, ingenious and challenging insights from extraordinary humans not yet old enough to vote. 

A closing quote from the Ukuzibuza mission statement: “We hope that this website can be a space for us all ... one which displays the variety of knowledge, passions, talents and ideas that we as a collective possess so abundantly.”

If there was ever a time to learn from The Youth, that time is now.

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