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The pros cons of life in boarding school

12 Apr 2021

Like any parent, Ms Bahidi Mosime of Otse wished for her six-year-old son to go to school despite the challenges she faced.

This though meant being separated from her boy to allow him to start school at Mokgenene Primary School, some 50 kilometres from Mosoke cattlepost, where she resided at the time. 

It broke her heart when the time came for her son to go to school as she watched him wailing the day government officials came to fetch the little ones from Mosoke cattlepost.

“My son and I were so attached and had never separated since I gave birth to him. 

That is why I could not bear to see him go and knowing that I will only see him at the end of the term did not help either,” she said.

Painful as it was, Mmalekgowa as she is affectionately called, could not at the same time subscribe to the idea of staying with her boy in the cattlepost for good because she wanted the best for him.

Nna ga ke a tsena sekole, ke sale ke tsewa ka bonnye ke ya go belegela bangwe bana kwa Mookane mme moragonyana ka boela kwano ka ke ne ke sa tshele sentle. Le nna ke batla go bona ngwanake a bereka ditiro tsa makgowa a tle a nketshe mo lehumeng,” she said, explaining the hurdles she went through in life and that she wants a better life for her son.

The first day without her son was the saddest thing ever experienced. 

Her mind was flooded with many questions, what has he eaten, will he cope, who will bath him and ensure that he goes to school daily?

Unbeknown to her, hostel life was not as bad as she thought because children were in the care of government officials employed at Mokgenene hostels and when schools went on recess, pupils were free to visit their families with transport provided for by government. 

However, Mmalekgowa was not happy to see the state her son was in when he came home during school holiday.

“Even though my son learnt to read and write, I was not impressed with his cleanliness. 

His hair had lies, but he had none when he left home,” she said with her face frowned.

But Mmalekgowa’s son, Thabo Mosime, now 27, shares a different view about life at Mokgenene hostels.

He confirms that the first two years of school were hard for him, but adapted as time went by.

“Facing life without my mother was unbearable the first few years of school to the extent that my friends and I escaped at some point,” he chuckled. Two days later his mother took him back to school because her son was her only hope.

The day he was brought back to school was his turning point as Thabo never looked back and got serious with school, which earned him a B grade in his Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). 

Fortunately for him, his older cousins made life easier for him by taking care of him.

Bontsalake ba ne ba ntlhapisa pele ga re ya sekoleng abe ba bona gore ke jele pele ga re ka emelela. Go ne ga nna motlhofo gore ke tlwaele sekole le fa gone pelo e ne e le kwa lwapeng,” he says explaining how his cousins made life easier for him by bathing and feeding before going to school.

Thabo shares that apart from missing his family, life at the hostels was not that bad because he lacked nothing since food, toiletries, school uniforms and other necessities were provided for by government.

“Our teachers and the matron were our second parents, they too contributed so much in moulding us into responsible young people. 

They encouraged us to work hard in our studies, something that earned me a B grade in the PSLE,” Thabo says.

Life at the hostels requires maturity and ‘I turned out to become an independent responsible person at a tender age’.

After passing PSLE, he proceeded to Mokobeng Junior Secondary School, where he also had to endure three years of boarding schools from 2017 to 2019.

Unlike primary school, he easily adapted to the secondary school environment because he was already used to taking care of himself.

“Our Guidance and Counselling teachers were always there to assist us whenever we needed help so I never had a problem during my entire three years at Mokobeng JSS,” Thabo states.

One good thing about a boarding school, he says, is that one gets to be independent and study without being disturbed, something that does not happen when one stays at home. 

Having spent most of his life at school came with some disadvantages as Thabo reckons that he struggled with domestic chores like chopping wood, milking cows and making sour milk. 

With a third class grade at JC level, Thabo got himself an admission to Shoshong Senior Secondary School and later Boitekanelo College.

Lemogang Tshupelo of Otse also had no regrets about boarding school as she reckoned was better than being a day scholar.

“I never missed home because we had care takers who were like our second parents. They helped us with homework, bathed us and ensured that we attended school without fail,” she says.

The sad moment she says was the time when parents came to collect their children’s academic reports and got to learn about their children’s academic performance.

“Our parents missed this important moment because they lived at Sonowe cattlepost, about 80km from Otse, so our reports were always collected by the care takers instead and gave them to us to deliver to our parents at the end of the term,” Lemogang recalls. ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Kgotsofalang Botsang

Location : Otse

Event : Interview

Date : 12 Apr 2021