The Department of Basic Education under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and the Botswana Institute of Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Offenders (BIRRO) have partnered to march in an attempt to raise awareness about the problem of drugs, tobacco and alcohol among students on March 14.
In an interview, the Secretary General of BIRRO, Modise Mandolo said society should not point accusing fingers to the teachers for the recently released disappointing J C and BGCSE results.
“Even if you go through the mall you will pass 50 students, wearing school uniforms but blowing cigarette smoke in the air. The society knows this though nothing is done to eradicate it. Why then should we blame teachers or even the Minister?” observed Mandolo.
He said a person who is addicted to tobacco smoke cannot concentrate or reason well in the absence of smoke for a certain period of time.
Mandolo observes that before society can start blaming others for children’s failures there is need to ascertain if indeed the students where in the right condition to receive the education or they were seeing stars in broad daylight due to high levels of Kush in their system.
“We need to make an individual ready to receive education, we need to make them clean in minds first so that when knowledge is imparted to them their minds are free of calamities so that they can easily grasp,” the eloquent Mandolo stressed.
“Knowledge no matter how small it is, has to go into an individual through the brain, and that brain need not be damaged or unable to grasp for it to retain. And if it is a proven scientific fact that alcohol and drugs affect a teenager’s cognitive ability, then which part of the brain do we expect him or her to use in order to receive the education?”
These he said are issues society has to confront before laying blame on others for student’s failures and the downfall of the country’s education system.
Dubbed “Making a pledge to be a non-user of drugs and alcohol today, for tomorrow and the future” the march is scheduled to start in four points of Gaborone city.
There will be a route from Bokamoso, Mogoditshane, Ledumang and Tlokweng that will converge at Gaborone secondary School. There speeches will be presented by among others ex-convicts who will be sharing their experiences on the use of drugs and alcohol and how it ended landing them in prisons.
“The theme is coded in this way so that students can easily identify with, it is an individual theme not a group phenomenon meaning a pledge is made by an individual on his/ her own through our support,” he said.
In light of this that they have embarked on a campaign to go around schools trying to teach, sensitize and discourage students from using drugs and alcohol. In their campaigns they teach students using their own experiences and lives as testimonies.
“We believe that experience is the best teacher, hence a person especially a student will likely listen to someone who has done what he is talking about rather than listen to someone who has read about it. Is time we accept that as much as teachers are qualified, they cannot get students out of the drugs and alcohol euphoria simple because students view them as teacher who their job is to tell them what the text books say, therefore we want to emphasise that indeed teachers cannot fight this problem on their own. Hence we need a neutral person who is not involved in the academic lives of the students in anyway, someone who is able to inspire them through his life experience and that’s where BIRRO comes in,” explained Mandolo.
BIRRO is an NGO made up of ex-convicts who have self-introspected their lives and decided to live a better life and also change other people’s lives. Politicians and various celebrities are expected to grace the event.