Decades ago, at school, discipline was key. At Thornton Road Primary where I started school few kids had contact with white or black people. We existed in different worlds, which was Apartheids plan.

Since Apartheid was harsh, faith in God and education was measured our only salvation. Poverty was real as many kids came to school without shoes. The Afrikaans speaking kids were regularly given bread and soup ironically the English speaking kids did not eat the state funded food.

When disciplined at school, you did not complain as parents usually agreed with the teacher. Teaching was a respected profession which enticed the best minds. The Principal and school inspector were moral and honored community elders. Schools were valued institution even though we had no grass, swimming pools, computers, visual Aids, no Science lab or anything for that matter.

Kensington High School was no different. Most knew, to escape poverty, learning was key. Apartheid engineered rules and costing made UCT and Cape Technical College a dream for most, UWC and Pentech was barely within reach. Though school was free, Apartheid made life needlessly difficult.

Most brown people had just enough to survive yet there was an overall respect and dignity that today seems distant. While there were hooligans, they were few and did not bother ordinary people.

Today, parents and kids who play no role in the success of the school seek to inspire chaos. Principals and teachers are in an endless “defense mode” as some parents regard their child as immune to fault. Oddly the parents who will fight for their child’s right to whatsoever, is often unable to teach the child manners. While the National Education Department introduces more law, School Governing Bodies wonder if the bureaucrats have any classroom or school managing skills.

Everyone has rights which they want to enforce but few care who endures the outcome. How are educators to teach kids, discipline when discipline is absent inside the child’s home. The problem is that some parents lack the skills to raise kids. People want to live as they please and expect others (the school, the church, the mosque, the state and so on) to sort out their mess when things go wrong. The kids lack manners and discipline because their parents lack manners and discipline.

Already expert teachers are resigning and retiring. New teachers who see the rising tide of insanity bearing down from parents and department, are looking elsewhere. Soon we will be left with those who teach, purely for the wage as the passion was lost years earlier.

When school rules require change, parents must do so via the school governing body, their elected agents. If students are allowed to appoint teachers and Principals with mere protests, what is next?

Can anyone of us, non-teachers imagine what life is like with 40 learners who all require attention?

Elected structures are ignored as emotions outweigh reason. Since racism is one problem, we must battle the racist. However, as a society we cannot measure every gripe as racist. We must also not allow covert agendas to subvert codes of discipline that has worked, in pursuit of abstract racism.

In the words of the wise, it is not what we do for our kids but what we teach them to do for themselves and for others that will make them and us honorable in respect of humanity and God.

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress