Our education system is going through some pretty difficult times, teachers' morale is at an all time low, students took the presidents' call for following and abiding by D's a little too seriously. We need to do something, that is quite clear. Policies have to be put in place to usher the new generation into a more admirable direction as individuals, leaders of the communities and the country need to stand and pull together to guide these young ones, let them know that getting an education is an important aspect of life. After the form three results debacle the president released a statement urging people not to finger-point, urging the public to work together to make sure the same thing does not happen. What was expected of him as the president, obviously. Imagine my shock as i browsed last week's papers to hear the president of the Republic say he does not read newspapers or books because they are 'boring'.
Personally i found this really insensitive and a bit reckless, something we have come to expect from the president to be fair, he usually says things that leave me going 'huh', do you know the tsunami Barrack Obama would come across if he was to say in no uncertain terms that someone is 'fat'? like our president saw fit to say to describe Mma Tshireletso in one instance? What was more shocking was the way the public took it to be a joke, the way the 'victim' Mma Tshireletso took news that she could break furniture due to her weight a joke.
Coming back to the issue at hand, the president was bang out of order in that regard, at a time we are desperate to inspire our children to be something more than what we have aspired to we should not have a leader telling them books are boring. The president might not have a role model as he is said to have pointed out on many occasions but there are thousands of children out there who watch and want to emulate what the president is doing. as Sonny Serite said in an article he wrote for the Sunday Standard last week
'Some of us have kids who look up to the president. Imagine if I tell Thabang to go to his bedroom and read books and he tells me he doesn’t want to read because he wants to become president.
And by the way, my son has already asked me to buy him a quad bike because he saw the president riding one. Now you see how our children follow everything that the president does.'
Reading has got me through some pretty dark places, reading has molded me as a person, as a man, reading has broadened my mind, reading has given me direction and showed me role models and their importance, i get the same thrill from reading and writing the president probably gets from riding a quad bike or flying an army helicopter. I fail to understand the boring part of books. I do not get it. I just finished re-reading Steve Biko's I Write What I Like, not a boring book by any stretch of the imagination.
Like Lauri Kubuitsile, Author and self professed avid reader posited in her column for The Voice, we are not only mad because we love books, we are mad because of the impact this will have in a country desperately battling lack of reading and bouts of anti-intellectualism.
At a time our teachers feel utterly unappreciated how does the president want them to feel?
I agree with the sentiments of Tobakani Rari, Secretary General of the Botswana Secondary Teachers Union (who by the way i know is an avid reader being my former teacher and all) who feels the president should apologize for what he said, it was wrong, not something he should have shared with the public.
Books are not boring.
Not at all.