Angela Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
BOYS’ schools in Bulawayo might soon consider enrolling female students as a way of eliminating violence among male students who continue to engage in public fights in the city centre.
Pupils from Milton and Gifford high schools have over the past years created a reputation of engaging in physical fights chasing each other across streets and around the city centre.
Yesterday, Milton High School hosted a cluster schools meeting which was attended by school heads, senior teachers and prefects from Townsend, Bulawayo Adventist (BAHS) and Gifford high schools.
The meeting which ran under the theme, “Promoting peaceful competition and co-existence in our schools,” was being held for the second time after the first was conducted in 2019 among the same schools at Townsend High School.
During the meeting, pupils were asked to list the reasons why there is continued rivalry between Milton and Gifford and why BAHS and Townsend are always affected by these fights.
Among reasons for these fights was the need to impress girls from Eveline and Townsend high schools, control territories in the city centre and the generational beliefs of enmity that are passed down to new pupils by the seniors during orientation.
Milton High School deputy headmaster Mr Malusi Mazibuko said one of the resolutions that have been considered was the issue of adopting mixed sex schools to mitigate violence between male pupils and creating a safe educational environment.
“This one is actually a long shot and it’s going to take a long time to implement, but with the continued street fights that continue to destroy our reputation and the violence that continues to hinder the co-existence of our schools, we might be forced to include female students in our enrolments and it is one of the solutions that were proposed by the students in our first cluster schools meeting in 2019.
“The rivalry between Milton and Gifford High Schools has been a part of these schools’ existence since their inception. Confined to sporting and academic success, the rivalry rarely spilled into physical confrontations as we see in the running street battles today,” he said.
“The two sister schools, Eveline and Townsend have unwittingly or otherwise played a part in this rivalry. They have been central to a lot of the fighting between the two boys’ schools as they are considered fair game by both. History records that Sir Milton and Lady Eveline were husband and wife and Milton Boys feel they have a rite of passage to Eveline girls. They have, however, extended that to Townsend which is geographically closer to Milton High than Gifford High school,” said Mr Mazibuko.
He said the reason why these fights have shifted from academic and sporting competitions and escalated into physical fights was the relaxation of rules that parents should drop and pick their children at school to stop them from having to pass through the city centre.
“These learners meet every day as they converge at the various termini in the city as they commute to and from school. Most of these learners are not steeped in the values of the schools. Where they come from, rivalries are settled the old-fashioned way of physical confrontation. Territories have been ‘declared and scent marked’, with Gifford controlling TM Hyper and Bulawayo Centre while Milton rules the roost at the Centenary Park, City Hall and Haddon and Sly areas,” he said.
Other possible resolutions that were proposed were an effective implementation of Guidance and counselling in schools especially for aggressive students, resurrection of prefect patrols in the city centre after school hours, introduction of curfews for children in the city centre, combined social activities and the effective uptake of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)’s Junior Call Programme.
The schools have also engaged the police, Childline Zimbabwe and vendors who work around the so-called territories to take pictures or videos of students who will be fighting in public and send them to any members of the four schools.
Schools like Milton have gone an extra mile to produce a seasonal school magazine that publishes issues that affect all the four schools and student-oriented activities that are being carried out.
Article Source: The Chronicle