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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On "Tough" Posh Malawian Schools and dress codes


Posh schools in Malawi are a hybrid of quality education and snobility...and a sub-hybrid of nostalgic-colonial-eraism and cosmopolity. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt! From Primary to end of secondary,went to two that classified as posh posh (but then if you count every African school with a pool as posh then 3)whether I got quality education is debatable, whether I'm a snob, well I flatter myself that I'm not, so why then does my nose always point upwards (gravity is losing it's strength)and on the colonial nostalgia, I treasure all the fun stuff like games of rounders, hockey....I think the printing press at ol' Cambridge needs to move to Nairobi. Cosmopolity? that's a plus in this global village.

Anywho, it was quite interesting to chat to a new breed "posh-schooler". She's 11. Back in my day, you expected two things only from a posh school: 1. posh, and 2. posh. but this girl goes to a religious posh school and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the tales she was telling me.

Let me paint the picture here. Imagine Malawi suburbia, the works, rich dad, rich mum, housemaid, nanny, gardener, and guard - all to pander to every whim of Suburb prince or princess. Granted not all kids in Malawi suburbia are obnoxious but a fair amount are. In comes this big religious posh school that aims to put things right. At first I was quite elated, didn't mind someone finally sweeping the night clubs of bored under-age students but then listen to this and oh! disclaimer- conversation paraphrased;

"So kid, heard your school is super cool" (trying to be "in" with the young 'uns by using the overused word "cool" you see, clever me)

"Umm, not really, I'd prefer it if I were a day-scholar."

"Why is that, you are 11, you must love being all independent, somewhat, down there in boarding school?"

"Independent my foot, we can't even wear pants!"

"You can't wear pants? Most of your clothes are actually pants."

"yeah, but our principal reckons some girls were wearing pants that were too tight so school rules now say no pants for girls. and for skirts, we can only wear skirts that are an inch below the knee!"

I looked at her with pity, I thought back to the days when I was 11 and it was plain illegal in Malawi to wear short skirts and pants. I'm all for modesty but I never see why an 11 year old should wear an ugly frock, women's style skirts and no jeans. Anywho, the conversation went on...

"What happens when you break the rules?"

"It depends really, sometimes you have to go down flights of stairs on just your knees, we call that detention."

Back in my day, detention was staying in a classroom studying while everyone else was having fun.

"But sometimes it's corporal punishment."

I have no issues with corporal punishment, I have had my share of hidings and they did me good.

"Can boys sag?"

"No way, pants for boys have to fit."

Poor hip-hop star wanna-be suburb princes... heh heh heh Eish!

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