Thursday, 23 October 2014

Life Orientation Skills

Any parent with children in a South African School will know all about this fairly new very important subject called LO - Life Orientation. If you fail LO you could fail the year. I don't know the intricacies of LO causing you to fail, but that is not the gist of this post.  Life Orientation Skills is self explanatory - giving you the Life Skills you need when you leave school and face the big bad ugly world. The jury is still out as to whether this is the case; but never the less it is a very important subject according to the department of education, not so much the children. As far as I am aware, LO is all about AIDS and HIV and the prevention of it and this, in my opinion has been done to the max. I say this with the utmost respect; deepest sympathy and most heartfelt empathy to those who have HIV and AIDS. Be it from promiscuity; prostitution or an infected needle through drug use or an innocent victim in a medical institution; the wrong relationship; infected blood - no matter how you were infected.

The reality is that in South Africa, teenagers; school going children and even babies have more chance of dying in a road fatality than they will have of contracting HIV. This post has been pending in my head for months, even before Chad went to book his learners. In fact the thoughts have been in my head years and years before I even started to blog, but I voiced my thoughts to Chad during the drive home after we had spent a frustrating morning at the Licensing Department, which I briefly mentioned over here. Getting your learners licence should be part of your school curriculum. They do it in other countries, so why not here in South Africa. I did hear that they are introducing it on a trial basis in some schools. I say it should not be on a trial basis, but mandatory as part of LO, BUT, it should be taken up a notch and should be implemented from grade one or from the start of LO. I can't remember if it is a Grade one subject - it certainly is a Grade three subject.

Chad and I had this discussion about first generation drivers on our roads; commuter cyclists that use the roads daily, but have not been taught rules of the road; we have people that have never driven in cars; because their parents did not have cars; their grandparents did not have cars, but they use the roads. People always have so much to say about pedestrians getting killed on highways - like what where they doing there. Think about it, you have your license or you live in  household with someone who has a license, so you know that pedestrians are not allowed on the highway - if you have never been told that, how are you supposed to know. If you come from generations of not owning a car - how would you even know what that little circle with a man and a line through it means. Lets not even go down the road of all those children who grow up in households with cars, owned by parents who speed; drink and drive; talk on their mobiles, whilst flying through red lights and pedestrian crossings outside schools - all these children learning from the totally wrong perspective.

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So in the spirit of the modern day trend of open letters, this would be my letter to the Minister of Transport.

'Dear Minister Of Transport,

I am writing to you as a concerned motorist and the mother of one teenager and a grieving mother of a "road statistic" that is what your wonderful amazing loving child becomes after dying in a road "accident". 

This letter is not your usual blame and accusation letter. I know that you are usually the one blamed for the corrupt cops taking bribes and you may or may not have jurisdiction over them. You certainly do not have jurisdiction over the suburban wife who had one too many glasses of wine at her book club; or the businessman who had one too far too many drinks at his golf club; or the mother who with her children safely ensconced in their car seats, goes speeding along suburban roads, because she is late and is not worried about the little child who has no option but to walk home from school that may just step in the road - after all speed does not kill. You certainly do not have jurisdiction over the dad who has far too many beers whilst standing around the braai criticising  our "corrupt" government and then gets in his car and gets pulled over by the cops and pays the "corrupt" cop a bribe in front of his children; their little minds like sponges absorbing what daddy does - that must be OK, because daddy can't go to jail with murderers and gangsters. Or maybe, daddy is one of those thousands of "law abiding" citizens who warn each other where the road blocks are. 

No my letter is not about that or the owners of companies who would rather spend their profits on overseas holidays than maintaining their trucks, so paying a small "tip" to a lowly paid employee to pass his un-roadworthy vehicle is a small price to pay to save towards his own luxury car or holiday or home. As the Minister of Transport, you do however take the flack for the carnage on our roads, no matter who or what caused the carnage and no matter what you implement to make our roads safer, you are criticised.

As the Minister of Transport, I urge you to get together with the Minister of Education and implement road safety into the very important subject, namely LO - Life Orientation Skills. Not only will you be equipping young adults with the skills to go out into the world, but hopefully, you will instil a culture of respect for road safety and rules of the road from a very young age.

I urge you to take road safety one step further. Start from the grade one curriculum, so that these tiny little minds; eager for knowledge will learn from a young age that speeding through a red light is wrong and not OK because mommy and daddy do it. Teach those children who may never have been in a car that crossing a highway is not allowed. How many times have you been at a traffic light with the green arrow for you to turn; the pedestrian light is red and a pedestrian crosses. It is frustrating and fingers fly; hooters blast; anger levels rise, but have you ever thought maybe that person has never been exposed to the Rules of The Road and has no idea what that little red man is all about.

Once children get to grade 11, doing their learners licence and passing should be part of the grade 11 curriculum. An inspector can come to the exam hall and the exams can be taken under his watchful eye and the teacher's watchful eye. This will not only get rid of most of the corruption at the Licencing Department, but also will get rid of the backlog when trying to make a booking and it becomes easier to drive without even knowing the Rules of The Road. Whether the children then get their drivers's licence is really immaterial, but could be added to the matric curriculum. However, it will give a whole host of citizens the knowledge of road safety and road rules that they will under current circumstances never know. It will stop the corruption caused from the inconvenience of booking and rebooking learners licences. The parents who have the funds, who will rather pay to guarantee a pass - (gee I did not know that was corruption) {insert sarcasm here} than take time out of their busy lives to stand in queues. 

Yes, we will still have people who will believe that they are above the law - there always will be, because that is the nature of the human species, but imagine how many "road safety and rules" educated people that we will have that we don't have now. 

I won't even go into the emotional; mental and financial burden and costs to the family of the victim, but the cost to the Insurance Companies; the medical aid companies; the burden on the Public Health system and resources; the cost to the economy - these are all astronomical costs that could and should be avoided.

As the Minister of Transport, both you and the Minister of Education have the power and means to give the next generation the power and skills to be respectful law abiding citizens. You have the power and means to instil a culture of respect for the rules of the road in young minds. Imagine the impact it will have on the economy and the country as a whole, if we could even halve the road carnage, just by tweaking the current school curriculum. It would not even cost any money to print new material or text books - the books are there, the tests are there - all we need is for the change to be implemented.

Let this be a solution to a problem that is just getting worse and worse.

Respectfully yours

A Concerned Mother"

And on that thought - let us be the change we want to see in the world.

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Have a wonderful Thursday and an even better weekend

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