We received a letter from the principal of my daughters’ primary school yesterday. He wrote of how the board considered closing the school on Friday in light of the expected widespread protests against the president’s cabinet reshuffle.


He told us that learning would go on as usual because the school did not associate with any political group. However, he went on to say, the school would respect the decision of parents who chose to protest with their children. He stated that the school would use this as an opportunity to engage learners on issues around protest action. In other words, they would use it as an opportunity to educate learners (at their level) about the demonstrations.


Should we be teaching our little people about politics? Are we not politicizing our kids at too young an age? Are we teaching them a culture of unruly behavior, of rebellion?


These are hard questions but we have chosen to discuss it with our 7 year old. We want her to learn that she has a voice and she can use it to express her opinions. Her opinions matter, both her assent and disagreement – even with her leaders. We want her to learn that her disagreement can be a tool to effect change but that it should never be accompanied by destructive behavior.


So in the conversation with my daughter yesterday, I explained that people march because they are unhappy with government. “Government, I thought it was because of the president that they are marching”, she said. I thought I was teaching her. But right there, was a lesson for me. The lesson that if I don’t teach my children, someone else will. The playground or some or other influential person will teach them how to perceive the world. Most parents would agree that not having control over what your kids take in, is placing them in harm’s way.


It also came to me that what we teach our kids about protest action will determine what kind of citizens they will become in future. And that’s all the more reason to engage them in the discussion now. We engage them to make sure that we raise involved concerned citizens. We do it to mould our children into conscientious leaders (different from our president) who understand that in the counsel of many there is wisdom. We do it teach them that their VOICES MATTER!



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