Opinion and Analysis
Our youth need good role models
Posted Sunday, July 29 2012 at 18:54
When I recently drove past a scantily dressed young woman in downtown Nairobi, I recollected the Education minister’s remarks on school skirts. I thought to myself, “Is this perhaps the route some of the unconscionable young ladies may go?”
Yes indeed, some school uniforms can be improved with a little innovation.
But as designers get working to accommodate the minister’s observations, I am for instance sure that no bank manager, permanent secretary or religious leader would allow the woman I mentioned above into their premises. Something would intuitively caution them, as it should always caution us, that the line is crossed.
Those of us who have visited Strathmore University or Kianda School, both of which maintain dress codes, will have witnessed their cool mannerisms of dress. The young men and women in these institutions, which have strictly enforced their dress codes for long, actually look very decently dressed. And both have proceeded to produce excellent graduates for our public and private sectors. A good look at our best performing schools will also reveal that most observe fairly decent and modest uniforms.
The minister must help us in restraining evident excesses in our schools and universities. Mini skirts or shorts and excessively revealing necklines aren’t the way to go. Yet, fashionistas will advise that one could keep clear of these yet emerge looking chic in school or work place. But concerns on our youth go beyond dress.
We too must reclaim some of our young from the mistaken notion that extreme consumerism and aplenty, irrespective of the means to it, is the norm. Some of the publicly reported incidents are food for soul searching and reflection among parents and teachers.
These include the deliberate burning of dormitories in a number of schools. For a young man or lady to go buying petrol for the purpose of setting their school alight, something is quite wrong.
We’ve also had incidents of students caught in University of Nairobi’s halls of residence with firearms. It’s anyone’s guess what such arms had been or were to be used for.
And just recently, some USIU students were reported to have abducted then murdered one of their own after attempts to extort her parents for cash.
We’ve read worrying accounts of young girls and boys who set out for university only to end up in dubious missions in urban areas seeking quick cash. Others have been recruited into outlawed sects and went on to cause great harm to society.
These incidents should jolt parents to question our parenting styles. They should jolt us to interrogate the role models we expose our growing children to.
Clearly, no child wishes to cause suffering to parents or country, but with the wrong values cultivated during early childhood, they will. We must, therefore, be careful as we work towards our social and economic grandeur.
We must pursue legitimate wealth. We must demonstrate that hard work, integrity and honesty informs wealth creation.
Personal integrity, space and respect for others should guide us as we pursue our dreams. We must not confuse and misguide the young through contradictory actions and utterances.
As a parent and policy maker, the minister and other policy leaders for that matter, must exercise caution in all public utterances they make in order not to aggravate an already bad situation by giving mixed signals to our growing youth.